“Ask a Priest: What If I Pray a Lot But Don’t Feel Closer to Jesus?”

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Q: How does one know if he/she is disposed to receive the graces of Communion? I wonder because, for one thing, it is hard to be patient with difficult family members, and if I have so much trouble loving others, then how can I love Christ? I have been going to daily Mass, confession at least twice a month, often weekly, daily rosaries and read the daily Mass readings before Mass and reflect on them. Recently I have been trying to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. I also volunteer at the church food pantry and spend at least an hour a week in front of the Blessed Sacrament. I have the desire for holy Communion but often do not feel any closer to Christ, and I know it’s my fault, not his. Lately the scriptural “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him” [Job 13:15] comes to mind. – M.S.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: If you are doing all those things you mention with good intention, don’t worry. You are likely receiving grace from your communions.

The point of prayer, etc., is to give glory to God and to help you stay humble. It’s not about consolation.

If you don’t feel any consolation, it is possible that God is simply purifying you.

The fact that you continue to pray, despite the lack of consolation, means that you are making a greater effort to pray; you are using your will to help you focus on prayer. All that is good.

Jesus might be closer to you now than ever before. If you feel a bit in the dark and can’t feel his presence, relax. Sometimes the darkness can be a sign of God’s closeness.

That might sound counterintuitive. But remember, God is mysterious. Growth in holiness is ultimately God’s work in you; it’s not something you earn by your deeds.

It would be good to stay the course for now. Think about finding a solid spiritual director or regular confessor who can guide you. And keep working on the charity with the difficult family members.

Perhaps your problem is not that you don’t love them. You might just have trouble liking them in any given moment. But liking is not the same as loving. Loving means you want the best for them and that you are willing to sacrifice for them.

A book that might help you is When the Well Runs Dry: Prayer Beyond the Beginnings, by Jesuit Father Thomas Green.

Count on my prayers.


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  1. As I recently heard in a video on LOVE… Love which is OF GOD, Spiritual God Love is not based on ‘feelings.’

    If doing all those spiritual ‘acts of faith’ you are doing… keep in mind that ‘we do nothing except by His spirit that guides’ (we can’t pray, we can’t attend to Mass, we can’t attend to confessions… of our own mind and our own will’ IMPOSSIBLE) Therefore, HE who is God, Father Son and Holy Spirit is leading; as Father M pointed out.

    Remember when you went to school, and began to learn to read…you were doing everything as you were
    taught to learn to read… writing down the ABC’s… writing down words from black board. Reading the
    one word picture book CAT DOG APPLE… but at that time, did you ‘feel so smart?’ No, you didn’t ‘feel
    any different’ than when you couldn’t read SEE JANE RUN . . . RUN JANE RUN.

    The ‘disciplined daily duty’ of learning to read . . . brings greater understanding of reading for comprehension and expression of ideas. And all the ‘acts of faith’ you mention will bring ‘slow and steady’ the FAITH growth
    to your spirit. (but as Father M said, for now God is letting you show Him who want Him close) Growth in FAITH is a slo-oooow transformational process… not a ‘once saved always saved’ idea. Consolations and
    awareness of HIS PRESENCE (that is always with us) take time. Faith isn’t about ‘feelings’ . . . it’s about
    FAITH . . . seen or unseen, ‘felt’ or ‘not felt’ To KEEP DOING WHAT WE OUGHT… is FAITH (go to Mass,
    Examine Conscience, attend to confession, pray the Rosary, meditate slowly on one passage from Bible)
    Greet God and our blessed Spiritual Mother upon waking in a.m. and before bed in p.m. (silent prayer ok)
    Mary hears and Jesus hears and God, Father hears by the power of the Holy Spiirt (counselor)

    Keep on keeping on… persevere. (and be aware of the GOOD that surrounds each day… little ‘tiny good
    things’ (the sun is shining, the garden is growing, there’s happiness in home generally (not perfect but there)
    REJOICE … nothing of good happens without GOD. (do not SIN, and HE’S ALWAYS WITH US) Do good for
    others and dress simply and modestly in respect to our humble Lord.

  2. ACTS of FAITH is also known as religion… and the objective of a religious practice (Liturgical worship, taking and eating with a purity of heart that came as result of Baptism … purity of love for God for God’s sake, begins with Baptism of SOUL, NOT that we are completely perfect here and now… with that initial grace from God, we then can learn of God, and ACT in GOD… and purge of self weaknesses (God will provide the opportunities to show us where we are weak (concupiscence) We are IN but NOT OF the natural material world… and SLO-OOOOWLY we grow the spirit of Christ, (12 fruits at basic thought there are many fruits of Christ’s spirit) There will be slips (as He slipped 3 times carrying His cross) Why? our main ‘cross’ . . . we are human persons (with a soul) and prone to emotions. Emotions are good, they warn us of ‘dangers’ . . . a dark street puts a healthy fear, and not to ‘go there.’ Anger can be justified . . . enabling us to pray for a solution to some interaction with ‘a riler of our emotions.’ Such anger WITH CHRIST produces a better world for self and others (maybe getting an ‘adult’ movie theater out of a neighborhood) Anger at those who call us ‘dumb’ . . . WITH HIS HELP brings us to work harder in school.

    But ‘not all are of spirit love’ and they use human emotions to ‘control’ whom they see as weak rather than meek. Christian Sacramental Religion is a virtue that protects ‘from the world’ of mere natural flesh.
    (in the world, but not OF that pull down world) We of Christ, pray for such others; we are justified to sometimes keep a distance, but we pray and offer up for them as HE DID on that cross to the ‘know nots.’
    And MIRACLE… He draws us ever closer to HIMSELF. IN THE WORLD, NOT OF ‘THE WAYS’ OF THE WORLD. GOD always wins…

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