All of us can relate. Before offering some encouragement, though, let me remind you what a gift it is to know you sometimes fall short. Many people have the illusion of virtue when in fact they are drifting away from God. The Pharisees that attempted to trap Jesus in speech thought they were serving God.
Why we falter is simple: we have not yet committed ourselves completely to Jesus. Like the rich young man, we are unwilling to give some things up: “There is one more thing you must do” (Mark 10:21). The Christian is called to give up anything that stands between him or her and God. Jesus says this over and over again in many ways.
The only way to spiritual perfection is through Jesus. I’d recommend the books in the reading list, but consider reading “The Hermit,” by Torkington first. Obviously, read the Gospels first, if they are not already imprinted in your heart and head.
Rather than trying so hard, try this: instead of seeking perfection, simply seek to remove obstacles to prayer from your life. Listen for the Father’s call, and put aside anything that gets in the way. We do not become good on our own, nor do we “decide” to pray. God calls and sometimes we answer. He calls us to prayer constantly, but some calls are stronger than others. Whatever “messing up” is for you, it probably keeps you from prayer. Simply seek to pray constantly. Catholics have the tradition of going to church daily and praying before the Blessed Sacrament (the presence of Christ in the Eucharist). Even if you are not Catholic, consider going into a church daily (at lunchtime?) and praying for five or ten minutes. Beg God for help, and pray for others, too. Find a way to do this daily, if you can. If you miss, don’t feel guilty, just go the next day.
When you fall, return to God immediately. Meditate on the wounds of Christ and how ungrateful we are for salvation. Thank him for his love. I hope this helpsï¿½ Please pray for me.