Darkness in Prayer: A Lover’s Game?

Do you ever feel like God is not listening? Is prayer just merely a game to God? So many of the saints have gone through seasons of dryness and darkness in prayer. In today’s episode, Dr. Edward Sri looks to the wisdom of St. Catherine of Siena, a Doctor of the Church, who shows us how to faithfully respond and cooperate with God amid those most difficult seasons. 

Snippet from the Show
“Prayer is the meeting of two desires: our desire for God and God’s desire for us.” 
St. Catherine of Siena 

Quotes from today’s episode are being taken from When You Pray, Dr. Sri’s new study with Ascension!

You know prayer is important but still find it challenging. Perhaps it’s hard to find time, or you’re unsure what to do when you pray. Or maybe you feel discouraged by your weaknesses and your inability to overcome them.

If you have any of these feelings, you are not alone. Many of the saints struggled in prayer. They were like us. But each time they fell, they got up again and learned to rely more on God’s grace.

What God did in the lives of countless saints, he wants to do in the lives of ordinary people like us. And that’s what this study is about: the journey of prayer God wants to take us on.

Authored and presented by Dr. Edward Sri, When You Pray also features Fr. Jacques Philippe, Fr. Josh Johnson, Fr. Gregory Pine, Sister Josephine Garrett, Fr. Donald Haggerty, and Sister Maris Stella. To find out more, click here!


When Prayer is Difficult, We Can Often:

  • Feel like a failure.
  • Feel like we’re doing something wrong.
  • Feel like we didn’t follow the proper technique.
  • Feel like we aren’t trying hard enough.
  • Feel like we’re bad Christians.

What Could Be Happening in Those Moments?

  • God could be testing us: are we searching for consolation or for him?
  • God could be purifying our love.
    • “There are [some people] who become faithful servants. … But their love is imperfect, for they serve me for their own profit or for the delight and pleasure they find in me. Do you know how they show that their love is imperfect? By the way they act when they are deprived of the comfort they find in me. And they love their neighbors with the same imperfect love. This is why their love is not strong enough to last. No, it becomes lax and often fails. It becomes lax toward me when sometimes to exercise them in virtue and to lift them up out of their imperfection, I take back my spiritual comfort and let them experience struggles and vexations.” (p. 54) 
  • God could be increasing our humility.
    • “‘I do this to bring them to perfect knowledge of themselves, so that they will know that of themselves they have neither existence nor any grace.’ When we experience our poverty in prayer, when we acutely realize that we don’t really know what we’re doing in prayer, it humbles us. It makes us realize we don’t have it all together. We come to a deeper appreciation for how dependent we are on God to help us pray.” (p.54)
  • God could be saying, “Sometimes, I pretend not to hear you.”
    • “As he tells Catherine, ‘I come and go, leaving in terms of feeling, not in terms of grace, and I do this to bring them to perfection. … I call it a ‘lover’s game’ because I go away for love and come back for love—no, not really I, for I am your unchanging and unchangeable God; what goes and comes back is the feeling my charity creates in the soul.’” (p. 55)
    • “Sometimes, to test your desires and your perseverance, I pretend not to hear you. But I do hear you, and I give you whatever you need, for it is I who gave you the very hunger and voice with which you call me, and when I see your constancy, I fulfill your desires.” (p. 56)

What Do We Do When We Face These Struggles?

  • Examine our conscience: “God, why do I really come to you in prayer?”
  • Persevere through prayer, no matter how dark, dry, or pointless it feels.
  • Trust God: “You may not sense my closeness, but it doesn’t mean I’m not there.” 


  • Visit Dr. Sri’s website at www.edwardsri.com and to book online events with Dr. Sri email events.edwardsri@gmail.com
  • Find more of Dr. Sri’s episodes at www.ascensionpress.com/allthingscatholic 
  • Ascension is pleased to offer our new and improved online bible study programs and sacramental preparation programs digitally to help you minister with flexibility. Go to www.ascensionpress.com to view all our offerings

Dr. Edward Sri is a theologian, well-known Catholic speaker, and author of several best-selling books. His work with Ascension includes study programs such as A Biblical Walk Through the Mass, No Greater Love: A Biblical Walk Through Christ’s Passion and Mary: A Biblical Walk with the Blessed Mother. Several of Dr. Sri’s programs were filmed on-site in the Holy Land, and feature immersive video explorations of the sacred sites where Jesus, Mary, and the Apostles lived and died.

Dr. Sri is the host of the acclaimed Ascension podcast All Things Catholic with Dr. Edward Sri.  Together with Curtis Martin, Dr. Sri is a founding leader of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), of which he serves as senior vice president of Apostolic Outreach.

Dr. Sri lives with his wife Beth and their children in Colorado.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Never Miss an Episode!

Get show notes, exclusive bonus content, and more sent straight to your inbox.