A Common Yet Dangerous Problem in Prayer

It’s a common problem in the life of prayer.

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Sometimes in meditation, particularly when using spiritual reading, people think they’ve had a prayerful encounter with the Lord because they experience some kind of pleasure. I don’t mean a sensible pleasure or “feeling”, so to speak. Rather, the kind of pleasure that comes more from an increase in knowledge, instead of charity.

And since prayer is the movement of the heart toward God, this can be dangerous.

An over-emphasis upon knowledge leads to pride, instead of the humility necessary to enter into communion with God. “‘Knowledge’ puffs up, but love builds up”, says St. Paul (1 Cor 8:1). Knowledge can lead to self-love instead of self-gift because you have turned inward. You end up loving yourself more than God.

This was part of the proud downfall of Adam. He succumbed to the “advice” of the Evil One to “be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:5) (emphasis mine).

True prayer is rooted in love of God and has its end in him.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that knowledge is a bad thing. Quite the opposite. In fact, in The Dialogue, St. Catherine of Siena says that “knowledge must precede love.” After all, how can you fall in love with someone you don’t know?Man or Pastor studying teaching the Bible

Would you really take some stranger seriously who walked up to you and declared, “I have no idea who you are, but I’m in love with you!” The Doors may have had a hit lyric with “Hello, I love you won’t you tell me your name”, but the idea itself is ludicrous. In fact, taking the time to intentionally grow in your knowledge of God can actually be a demonstration of love.

Study is good! It’s necessary!

Even so, while knowledge provides a firm foundation, it is not the goal. It cannot become a substitute for relationship. Knowledge brings God down towards us, but love draws us up toward God, says the great 20th century Dominican, Fr. Garrigou-LaGrange.

Love is what unites us with God, not knowledge.

Of course, as Catholics, we’re not “either/or” people. It’s a “both/and” faith. Study the faith so that you can increase in love. “We know him,” says 1 John 2:3, “if we keep his commandments.” And the greatest commandment is to love.

God bless!


P.S. Don’t forget to grab your FREE copy of my quick guide to deeper prayer 8 Ways To Jumpstart Your Prayer Life! It’s an easy step-by-step guide to help you rocket to God!

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014: The Gospel Accordion to Bob Rice

catholic_FINAL_150Question: What do adoption, 80s singer El DeBarge, and the spiritual life have in common?

Answer: Bob Rice.

Any man who plays the accordion (and has an album starring said instrument titled “The Gospel Accordion to Bob Rice”) is just a little on the unusual side. But if by “usual” you mean boring and predictable, I’ll take unusual any day. And trust me when I say this show was anything but boring and predictable. It goes in a lot of crazy directions, all of which point up to Christ.

In addition to the oddities of his instrumentation, Bob is an author, speaker, 10603272_781091235278561_2546200645156400065_nmusician, and theologian. Many of you have experienced his dulcet tones at a summer conference at Franciscan University or another venue. For those of you who have not, you’re about to.

Five will get you ten that you’ve never heard some of the things you’ll hear on this podcast anywhere else. Grown men aren’t supposed to have this much fun.

So buckle up, prepare to smile, and click the “play” arrow below for a good time.


And don’t forget to head over to iTunes and leave the show a rating!

Doing so helps promote the podcast and gets Catholic material in front of people who may never otherwise be exposed to the faith. Thank you!!51bvKGuldNL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_51FKkjy27KL._SX421_BO1,204,203,200_


If It’s Not Working, Break It!

The one thing we don’t want when learning a new skill, or even practicing an old one, is bad technique.


I like to golf. In fact, I was a caddy as a kid. And there was one particular member who always requested me to carry his bag for club tournaments. Thankfully I was in good shape, because he was terrible. Half the time his drives would travel two fairways to the right…a fore-gone conclusion, if you will.

Even so, he never attempted to change things up. He never adjusted his swing, so it continuously yielded mixed results at best. Good golfers adjust to what works.

The spiritual life is somewhat similar. Technique is key. The Catechism says having the will to pray isn’t enough. You have to learn how to pray…learn the proper techniques.

That being said, don’t get hung up on techniques just because you’ve always used them.

Like a golfer who buys a new set of irons, don’t be afraid to try something new or change things up if what you’re doing no longer helps you talk with God. Meditative prayer isn’t a time just to tick off your favorite litanies or devotions from your spiritual “to do” list.

Handsome young man praying in a churchThe goal is relationship.

Of course, don’t stop a particular prayer routine or technique because you’re just not “feeling it”. Prayer isn’t about emotion or feelings.

On the other hand, if you’re growing and your method or routine is no longer actively helping you engage God, dump it like a bad putter. Because the life of prayer is somewhat fluid, there may well be a time when you go back to some of these methods and routines. But if they’re not useful right now, get rid of them.

People who keep slogging their way through their method of choice (e.g. rosaries, liturgy of the hours, litanies, etc…) no matter what, will eventually wear out. Prayer will become a burden because they’re not allowing the relationship with God to grow.

So take a quick inventory of what you’re doing in prayer. If it’s drawing you closer to our Lord, have at it. If it’s not, put it in the garage next to your old set of clubs and grab yourself a new “prayer putter.”

God bless!

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P.S. Don’t forget to grab your FREE copy of my quick guide to deeper prayer- 8 Ways To Jumpstart Your Prayer Life! It’s an easy step-by-step guide to help you rocket to God!