St. Teresa of Avila, a doctor of the Church, described contemplative prayer to her sisters of the Carmilite Community, so that if and when they experienced this form of prayer, they would know what they were experiencing.
Contemplative Prayer as described by the Saints - Dry Desire, Ardent Yearning.
Often, after one has experienced consolations, one feels nothing at all. They have no desire to pray or prayer comes very hard for them. Even thinking and understanding becomes hard. St. Teresa of Avila says that what the soul suffers at this time is indescribable. But during this time the soul is purified [The Book of Her Life, ch 30:11-15].
In times of aridity when I am incapable of praying, of practicing virtue, I seek little opportunities, mere trifles, to give pleasure to Jesus; for instance a smile, a pleasant word when inclined to be silent and to show weariness. If I find no opportunities, I at least tell Him again and again that I love Him; that is not difficult and it keeps alive the fire in my heart. even though this fire of love might seem to me extinct I would still throw little straws upon the embers and I am certain it would rekindle."
St. Therese of Lisieux, Thoughts of Saint Therese, The Little Flower of Jesus, Carmelite of the Monastery of Lisieux 1873-1897, translated from the French Pensees by an Irish Carmelite, quoting XVI Letter to her sister Celine, (IL: Tan Books and Publishers, 1915) 3.