With St. Ignatius "whose heart was
always striding forth in eager desire
for Jesus." (From the plaque)
Here's what happened. I went on a 3-day silent retreat at a Jesuit Center near Reading, PA. I've taken personal retreats before and usually I study a book of the Bible then pray for long chunks of time. But this time I was tired and stressed out, and had to force myself to go. When I arrived, I struggled to get into retreat mode, but it just wasn't happening. I was sitting there in a daze.
So I gave up and went for a walk. After a while I stopped and began reading the Psalms aloud, beginning with Psalm 1. No thinking, no analysis. I just read aloud with expression, then moved on to the next one. I was amazed at how that simple practice made the Bible come alive again for me. Then I started praying aloud too. And the more I read and prayed aloud, the more I felt God was present with me, and that we were having a dialog.
By the end of the 3 days I had done a lot of walking, and a lot of Bible reading and prayer outside. I made it all the way to Psalm 81. I learned that experiencing God's presence comes in "moments," 5 minutes or so when I become very aware of the Spirit's presence. Those are times of pure joy and renewal. But then, the moment dissipates and I realize I'm thinking about golf, or work, or something I want to buy. My attentiveness to God drifts. Instead of feeling guilty, I just say, "OK, that's it for now...", and get up and walk to a new place and begin again.
If you're experiencing the dog days in your devotional life right now, I’d encourage you to take a walk with a small Bible and begin reading it aloud and talking to God. You’ll be amazed at how soon you’ll feel in step with the Spirit once again (Galatians 5:25).