Institute speaker offers seven ‘secrets’ of saints, others for success in prayer

Before the Diocesan Summer Institute closed in Peoria June 4, keynote speaker Dan Burke offered seven “secrets” of saints and others who have success in prayer.

Establishing a sacred space, dedicated to God and used solely for this purpose, is one of them. Another is setting aside sacred time.

“If we don’t do this, we will never make progress in prayer,” said Burke, who is the author and editor of such books as “Navigating the Interior Life” and a series on spiritual direction.

“We live and act as if God’s not really real,” he said. “Give time to God and never give it to anything else. Schedule your prayer time before you schedule anything else. If you try to squeeze it in, it will never happen.”

Sacred attention — filling your mind with God and gently rejecting all else — takes a long time to develop and may be the hardest part of prayer, Burke said, suggesting that spiritual reading can help people identify that works best for them.

Having a “rule of life” is also beneficial because it spells out how you’re going to give yourself to God in very specific ways, he said. Religious communities have these “rules” and the friendship, support and reinforcement that members offer to one another is very important to growth in prayer.

Burke encouraged those who aren’t living in community to find it by developing friendships with people who are on the same path and then leaning on one another for solidarity and accountability. Regular meetings are essential to success, he said.

Spiritual direction and regular confession also are key for intimacy with God.

He cautioned them against trying to do too much at once, noting that “the enemy” can use over commitment “to crush you.” Pick one, do it for 30 days or longer, and then move on to the next area, he told them.

“Remember, these are habits and virtues that you’re not capable of doing all on your own,” Burke said. “When you begin to fight this battle, the enemy will do all that he can to stop you, which is why you need community to help you. So pick some ground and take it and never give it back.”
Related story: Archbishop Sheen attributed everything to his consecration to Mary, says Institute speaker


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