Thursday, February 27, 2014

Do You Have a Prayer Plan?

St. Paul, in his first letter to the Thessalonians, commands us to "pray without ceasing" (5:17). A question immediately arises, how can we, as laymen, do this? We are, after all, called to be "in the world", although "not of the world" (Jn 17:16). Pope John Paul II stressed the "secular character" (as Vatican Two termed it) of the laity saying,
"the lay faithful 'live in the world, that is, in every one of the secular professions and occupations. They live in the ordinary circumstances of family and social life, from which the very fabric of their existence is woven'. They are persons who live an ordinary life in the world: they study, they work, they form relationships as friends, professionals, members of society, cultures, etc" (Christifideles Laici, 15)
Given this particular calling of we the laity it is apparent that we are not called to a monastic existence, but we are still called to holiness and indeed to constant prayer. Which leaves us to ask, how can we do this? How, practically, can we live a more prayerful life?

One way is to adopt a Prayer Plan, something I have done with the New Year and have found to be immensely helpful. Instead of merely praying when the Spirit moves me (although I certainly pray then too), I make sure I pray certain prayers throughout the day. This keeps me coming back to God, makes me pray in a variety of ways, and helps me to actualize St. Paul's teaching.

Here is what I try to do each day.

After Waking Up.
Morning Offering.
Three Hail Marys for purity.
Prayer to Saint Joseph for aid at work (Mon-Fri)
Bless myself with Holy Water.
After Breakfast.
Read a chapter from the Bible.
Pray the Saint Michael Prayer, Angel of God, and to St. Thomas Aquinas with kids before school (Mon-Fri)
Five Minutes of Mental Prayer.
After Lunch.
Pray the Rosary (Mon, Tues, Thur, Fri) or the Divine Mercy Chaplet (Sat, Sun, Wed)
After Dinner.
Pray grace (before dinner)
Pray with my children before bed (bless them with Holy Water)
Pray with my wife.
Before Bed
Spiritual Reading (right now I'm reading Furrow by St. Josemaria Escriva)
Three more Hail Marys for purity.
Examination of Conscience (I use the Seven Deadly Sins)
Bless myself with Holy Water
Night Prayer

It's not a ton of prayer, but it keeps me coming back to Christ throughout the day. I also try to remember to offer up certain tasks at work to the Lord.

Your Prayer Plan might look very different. It might include other prayers, might follow the liturgy of the hours, might include daily Mass, might be longer or shorter, but I strongly recommend setting out some basic prayers to say at various times throughout your day to keep you ever in mind that our true home is not in this valle lacrimarum, but with Christ.

One last tip, don't start with too much. If you don't pray daily, just start with a short prayer in the morning and before bed and slowly work your way up to a fuller daily prayer routine.

What does your daily prayer plan look like?


  1. Wow! That seems like a LOT of prayer to me. Don't sell yourself short!

    I have come to understand that passage a little differently, in that to me it's less about formal or ritualized prayer and more about a state of mind in which I am constantly turning my mind toward God, over and over during the day. Although I often feel that I *should* be doing more frequent, more formalized prayers. I've begun lately to sit in silence first thing in the morning, just trying to quiet my mind and listen. That's what I'm most in need of.

    1. I find keeping to the prayer plan helps me to constantly turn my mind to God, something I can struggle with otherwise with all the distractions of daily life. Certainly, practicing the presence of God is a great way to "pray without ceasing"!

  2. I definitely support planning out prayer times. It's so easy to fall into the trap of saying you'll only pray when you feel like it and then somehow never "feel like it" ever. If you commit to praying grace before every meal, though, then you will pray even when you don't feel like it—which is often when you most need to pray.

    1. Absolutely! I've find having regular prayer times to be a great way of making sure I'm praying only when I "feel like it".