Constant Prayer

Posted on May 1, 2012 by


Focusing on the Lord

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

— Romans 12:12

Over Lent, one thing I concentrated on is my prayer life, as I’m trying to develop the habit of “constant prayer”. A lot of people misinterpret the Biblical phrase to mean that you should pray “all the time”, but it actually means that you should pray regularly, steadfastly, faithfully, diligently. That you have set times for prayer and you stick to them, day after day, hour after hour (hence the term “praying the hours”).

We’ve come to associate constant prayer primarily with Muslims (who call to prayer), but that’s actually a habit they picked up from Christians (bells or chimes), who picked it up from the Jews (horns). Some Catholic clergy are still required to pray the hours, but we laity and non-Catholics haven’t taken that vow, so it’s optional for us. But it is a great option.

Since Jesus was a Jew and they prayed at least three times daily, we know that He also practiced constant prayer. We can see it in the New Testament passages referring to Him and the Apostles going off to pray at regular times.

Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.*

— Acts 3:1
* (3 pm, as they started counting at the “first hour“, which was 6 am.)

Keeping Time by the Book

After Matthew 6 was read at Ash Wednesday’s Mass, I felt inspired to integrate the Lord’s Prayer into my day and to spread my studies and prayers out along the hours, instead of cramming them into one enormous evening spot where I nod off halfway through.

My routine loosely follows the structure of the Divine Office (also called the “Liturgy of the Hours”), broken down into seven parts because of tradition.

Seven times a day I praise You, Because of Your righteous ordinances.

— Psalm 119:164

Lauds 6am

Morning Prayer

Before breakfast The Daily Offering to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Terce 9am

Daytime Hours

After morning chores Lord’s Prayer, Sign of the Cross, daily Mass readings Alternate: attending church
Sext 12pm After lunch Lord’s Prayer, Sign of the Cross, catechism study
None 3pm After picking the children up from school A decade of the rosary
Vespers 6pm

Evening Prayer

Before dinner Magnificat
Matins 9pm

Vigil

After putting the kids to bed Lord’s Prayer, Sign of the Cross, religion study
Compline 12am

Nightly Prayer

bedtime Prayers with my husband

Yes, I do the same thing every single day. No, I never get tired of it. I can feel a sense of calm wash over me as soon as I begin each session, in fact, and when I’ve fallen out of the habit I start getting stressed out again.

This structure provides me with a framework for my prayer life, and helped me get over my “I can’t think of anything to say” mental block. I find that I now actually read the books, rather than just “meaning to” read them, which was what was mostly going on before. I used to just plop down and start reading, but I find that opening with a prayer gets me in the right mood to focus on the teachings.

I do all of the readings on my Kindle, as I’m too lazy to juggle a bunch of heavy books and rosaries and things. If I’m not home or am somehow busy when one of the hours strikes, I just pray the hour and catch up on the rest later. Right now my “religion study” is a one-year chronological Bible. After that I might do a one-year study of Saints for Catholic Moms.

Try It Yourself

Each session takes between ten and twenty minutes, so that’s over an hour per day spent in prayer, reading, and meditation. I love the thought that there are people all up and down my time zone who are praying at the same time that I am. I also like that I interact with God in all sorts of moods, so that I can bring all of my thoughts to Him in real time. This also pushes me to pray when I’m “not really feeling it”, which helps me to reconnect with God when I’ve become preoccupied by the temporal.

It was definitely easy to fit into my daily schedule, once I got used to the pattern, and I really feel like it’s bringing me closer to Peace and to the “silent evangelization” that the Pope has recently called for. I know it seems daunting, and when I first heard of it I thought, “That’s crazy! Who has time for all of that praying?”, but I highly recommend you give it a try. If nothing else, you could simply stop and say the Our Father three times a day, or something.

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the wicked, Nor standeth in the way of sinners, Nor sitteth in the seat of scoffers:
But his delight is in the law of Jehovah; And on his law doth he meditate day and night.

— Psalm 1

Posted in: Religion