Silence isn’t just exterior: Silence is where this prayer we are longing for takes place but silence is even more important interiorly than exteriorly. Of course it is important to create an outer atmosphere that isn’t noisy and distracted but the most important silence must be cultivated within. Prayer is so much more about God speaking to us than it is about us speaking to God. Its easy to “unload” on the Lord during prayer with our petitions and needs but we must remember that God wants to speak to our hearts and He will if we give him our loving attention and strive for silence. Work for silence each day and have a time for petitions and needs so that we don’t worry when we are trying to listen. Once we gain interior silence exterior matters very little. Interior silence is where we meet the Lord
Sin affects our intimacy with God: God still draws us to himself even as sinners but sin does have an affect on mental prayer. First of all many sins interrupt our inner silence. This is especially true when it comes sins against charity or brotherly love. They creep into our mind even when we don’t want them. Sin also makes us feel hypocritical. Its hard not to feel weird trying to pray when we are so sinful. We seem to think that we should approach the Lord only as a spotless being but we will never become spotless without approaching the Lord as we are. Not complacent but damaged and in need of repair. If you are continually striving against sin you will see progress in prayer and vice versa.
Make an appointment and keep it: I have known so many people who are totally faithful to daily prayer but they fit it in whenever they can. Its not a set appointment they just make sure that they take the time to pray before the day is over. While this probably works for some people it is definitely better to keep a schedule for your prayer times. I’m not comfortable with the idea of “fitting” God into my schedule. When we have an “appointment” with God it says that it is important and we won’t interrupt it for other things. Prayer is a primary duty of a Christian put it into your schedule.
We can’t be saints without prayer. Invest time and effort into your time with Jesus. Work hard and the Holy spirit will do the rest.
When it’s God who is peaking…the proper way to behave is to imitate someone who has an irresistible curiosity and who listens at keyholes. You must listen to everything God says at the keyhole of your heart. St. John Vianney