Spiritual Sloth



Recently, I have had trouble praying. This extends into my spiritual reading, something I quite enjoy. I have been confessing and attending mass regularly but that doesn’t seem to help. I just wondered if anyone had any advice or prayers that helped them.

Thanks so much


when you say you have trouble praying, what do you mean? do you mean that you’re having difficulty getting yourself to pray, that you feel nothing when you pray, etc?


spiritual sloth is not when we feel spiritual dryness, but when we don’t try. If we try to pray, that pleases God even if we feel nothing.

In fact, I believe that when we choose to pray, or choose to follow God, despite our feelings or in opposition to them, that pleases God even more than when we experience consolations in prayer. Because when we have consolations, it’s easy to pray, isn’t it.

When it is diffucult and we still choose it out of love for God, that pleases Him very much.

God bless


This is so timely…I was about to start a thread on this same subject! BTW ~ do you live down the street from me?! My best friend and I have been discussing this on and off these past months. We wonder just what is really is and how to identify it and how to live through it. We both have an active prayer life, attend Mass during the week, belong to faith enrichments study groups, everything that you mentioned above.

I even bought a book by Kathleen Norris Acedia & me and have not even opened it. So I am not sure it is dryness or acedia. I continue to my spiritual routine…however it takes everything ounce of my will.

Please talk to “prayerchanges” and me about spiritual sloth/acedia.

ps ~ thank you “prayerchanges” for posting this question since I have been pondering it for a long time…and you posted it on my birth day!


Yes. Thank you from me also, regarding this question.
I experience what you call “spiritual sloth” - and I experience it regularly.
No excuse for me. I hope your thread is read by many. We tend to put so much ahead of prayer. God must be so disappointed / angry with me.


Generally if we feel like something is keeping us from communing with God as we wish, there is indeed some spiritual lesson that we are supposed to learn. But we cannot learn the lesson merely by our own efforts. We can’t figure things out by our own intelligence no matter how hard we try, but God can, and will give us the light if we persevere in faith, hope and charity. No matter what, keep praying, and be patient with yourself, too. Anxiety about spiritual dryness can lead to more detours. I’m also trying to learn the virtue of patience myself. It is said that patience is the guardian of all other virtues.


Acedia & Me is a wonderful book. Here is a selection from it:


And another personal piece on it:


And a Fr. Barron piece titled Called To Holiness that has more:


This is a great topic BTW



I agree with Monica it sounds like dryness not sloth. All the saints went through it and we all experience it at some point in our spiritual life…just keep plugging away. Try saying aspirations throughout the day and spiritual communions often. I have read in the book My Imitation of Christ, that greater grace is given or rather there is greater merit when the feelings of devotion is taking away and we keep on praying and doing all of the spiritual exercises.


Spiritual sloth for me is when I let other things get in the way of my prayer life. I notice it most when my routine changes - holidays, summer, etc. - when my days are less “busy”. It seems when I have a lot to do that I can almost always find a spot for prayer. But when things are at a slower pace, I tell myself that I can “pray later”. And sometimes later never gets here.

Advice from my confessor includes: Putting some structure in my day. Not that every second has to be accounted for, but at certain points, certain things need to happen. Remember that it is the QUALITY of prayer that is important; not the QUANTITY. Whatever you pray, however you pray - it is important to be faithful to it.

My 2 cents.


There’s a Thomas Merton quote in that acedia&me book I linked before that says “sometimes just wanting to pray is the best prayer” or something like that.



I recommend meditation. Make yourself aware that God is present with you and meditate on that for a little while, considering the fact that He is present, possibly imagining Him in your mind’s eye or dwelling on the fact that He is present in your heart. Pray, before beginning, for God’s help and guidance. Turning your mind onto some image of Christ in your mind will help center your concentration. Perhaps read a Bible story and go through it picturing it in your mind. Also, perhaps try going through a day considering everything a gift from God. If it is a small annoyance or suffering, offer it up to union with His Passion. If it is a gift like someone being nice or funny or the food being good or anything else, thank Him for His kindness.

These kinds of exercises may very well help make spiritual life more engaging.


My dear friend

Perhaps God has removed His help a little to make you grow stronger. A bit like a baby being weened off the bottle. It’s like running in sand for training and when you get back on the track it’s so much easier. Just persevere and help will come again when you’ve grown. You are much more advanced in the spiritual life as and when you receive less help but persevere even if you think your not progressing or seem slack.

Just trust God and all will be well.

May God bless you:thumbsup::slight_smile:


Thank you so much


“As the “eight bad thoughts” of the desert monks eventually became the Church’s “seven deadly sins” acedia was dropped from the list, and the monks’ profound understanding of the common temptations that all people suffer lost ground to a concept of sin as an individual’s commission of a bad act or omission of a good one. This in turn led to a superficial form of self-justification, for instance: If I don’t overeat, then I’m not guilty of gluttony; if I don’t commit adultery, I am free of lust. The new emphasis on acts also contributed to the Church’s power; it alone could identify the acts that it alone had the power to absolve. The monks’ subtle comprehension of temptation as thoughts that the individual may identify and resist before they turn into harmful actions was largely submerged. The insidious thought of acedia was not easily defined as an act, and it was soon subsumed within the sin of sloth.”

I’ve found Norris’ writing on acedia fascinating and speaking to a lot of my struggles to seek holiness.

My latest installment of reading selections here:





Dear ConservativeOne,

You wrote:
“No excuse for me. I hope your thread is read by many. We tend to put so much ahead of prayer. God must be so disappointed / angry with me.”

One of the things I love so much about my new faith–Catholicism–is that the Church teaches that God does not have passions like we do. He is not angry with you or disappointed. Rather, He is always in encouragement and mercy mode–though sometimes the methods He uses may not always feel encouraging or merciful. But He is God and He ALWAYS does what is best for us.

He will keep calling you to Himself, and you will respond to Him. Then a dry spell, or even a deliberate drawing away from Him, but then He sweetly calls in a way you can hear Him and you will respond again. His grace is not only sufficient, but merciful. It matters most that we get up again and follow Him, no matter how many times we stumble in our devotion to Him.

God’s blessings to you–and don’t let “the accuser of the brethren” have access to you. Tell him to shut up and “get behind me”!


To Gabriel -
Thank you. I’ve been off Board for awhile and just stopped in today.
I wept at your reply. Hadn’t thought of it that way. God & Our Lady bless you.


We grow in the virtue of faith when we pray without feelings. The Lord wants us to grow, and He allows this to happen to us.


Dear Conservative One,

You are most welcome, and thanks be to God if my words helped you. My priest tells me in confession to be a little easier on myself–to treat myself like Jesus does: gently. Forgiveness is necessary for my sins, but the good news is that He is faithful each time to forgive. It’s up to me to allow that forgiveness to take root in me and pray for eyes that see Christ as He is really is. “For His love endures forever.”


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