From "The Prophet: The Inner Meaning of Prayer" by David Torkington. Not an easy read, but definitely worth it for those who are searching for something more in their prayer life.
When a beginner is passing through his first fervor, everything seems easy. Prayer is full of sweetness and light, and so it is often helpful to impose some physical mortification with moderation, such as fasting, so that their empty stomachs can remind their arrogant minds of their human weakness, that their early success in prayer can easily make them forget. When a person is languishing in a spiritual desert, as you will soon find out for yourself, there's more than enough dying to be done without insisting on further self-imposed mortifications that can easily break the camel's back long before the next oasis comes into view.
When the spiritual traveler finally comes to settle in the promised land, he has such an abundance of everything that he desires, that he must needs express his gratitude in the language of true love which is sacrifice. Beginners always make the mistake of trying to copy the great ascetical practices of the saints: their heroic virtue, their self-denial, their almost super-human love towards others, without realizing that all this is but the outward expression of a love that fires them from within.
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Here is the principle. Don't give up anything you like or enjoy, save sin - except in so far as it prevents you from having consistent quality time each day for prayer, for it is there that you will learn how to open your heart to the love that will eventually enable you to do all, and everything, that is quite impossible without it. Don't let your youthful enthusiasm kid you into believing that it is all too easy. When love begins to purify the dross that is within you, you'll suddenly find that it is all too difficult. (From pp. 93-94.)
Readers of this blog since 2003 might see shades of the spiritual journey described briefly above in my posts. As a young, radically renewed Catholic, I jumped into things with so much passion and fervor. I reached a point, however, of recognizing that I was trying too hard, that perhaps God was not asking all that I had given up from me. I am slowly moving in my spiritual travel towards a quieter, less activity-centered expression of faith, and I am grateful for the resultant intimacy in my relationship with God.