How to Pray as a Catholic
Pray constantly. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:17
St. Paul wrote these words as part of his final exhortations to the church at Thessalonika. If you are like most people, you might find this to be a challenge. After all, how is possible to pray constantly?
The word constantly implies that we are doing this on a regular basis. For instance, you might say that you are constantly checking your email. That means that you are probably checking your email many times per day including at least several times each hour.
If we are to pray constantly in the same sense that we might check our email, we need to consider how that can be done.
From my own experience, I would like to share seven practical ways in which you can pray constantly. All of these are easy and simple to implement.
Also, note that these seven ways also describe how to pray as a Catholic. The Bible is a Catholic book because it comes from the Catholic Church. So when St. Paul urges us to pray constantly, he is encouraging us to pray as Catholics.
1. Morning Offering
The morning offering is one you probably know, but it is often one that we neglect. The prayer falls under the category of short daily Catholic prayers, but that does not mean it is unimportant or one that should be ignored.
It is a simple concept but a powerful one. The idea is that at the start of the day, maybe before you even get out of bed, you offer your whole day to the Lord. It is a great way to start your day on the right foot.
This is the day which the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it. ~ Psalm 118:24
Every day comes from God, and it only makes sense to give Him our day in response to the gift of each day He has given to us.
You know that your day will have ups and downs, but you can offer all of that to God. And you make that offering to the Lord in union with the powerful Sacrifice of the Mass through the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Here is simple morning offering:
through the Immaculate Heart of Mary
and through Your Most Sacred Heart,
I offer You my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings
of this day for all the intentions
of Your Sacred Heart,
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
throughout the world,
in reparation for my sins,
for the intentions of all my relatives and friends,
and in particular
for the intentions of the Holy Father.
If you do not already know it, write it down on a 3x5 card and put on your night stand so you can pray it first thing tomorrow morning. Make it a part of your Catholic daily prayer routine.
2. Driven to Pray
A second way to pray constantly is to pray when you are driving. We often spend quite a bit of time alone in our cars going from place to place, and that can be time to spend in prayer.
It might mean turning off the radio or the podcast or the audio book, but it can be worth it. It might be okay to listen to those, but it might be good to take a few minutes to pray, as well.
What do you pray about when you are in the car? The short answer is anything.
One idea is to pray the Rosary when you are in the car. No, I am not suggesting that you actually pray with your Rosary in hand. That seems like it might be dangerous. Instead, pray the Rosary by using your fingers to keep track of where you are in the decade. You can even keep a firm grip on the steering wheel with two hands. Just use more pressure on a finger to indicate which of the ten "beads" you are praying. Also, say the prayers out loud to help you keep track and to add a vocal part to your prayer.
That might not be for everyone, but if you have a fairly easy drive ahead of you, praying the Rosary can be a great way to pray and prepare you for the next thing in your day.
Another idea for praying in the cars is to simply have a conversation with the Lord. Just talk to Him as if He was right there with you in the car.
You can start by asking Him to be with you as you drive. Then, think about what is in on your heart. Share that with Him. Tell Him about your day. Thank Him for things.
3. Call on the Lord
Virtually everyone today has a smartphone. And, despite the prevalence of texting, many of us still use these for making phone calls. Or some of us (me) also have landline phones or phones at work that we use.
Well, before you make a phone call, talk to the Lord first. Ask Him to be with you during that phone call. It is a way of letting the Lord be part of everything in your life and showing how you want to do everything in accordance with His will.
You might remember to do this if you are concerned about the call, but try to remember to do it before any type of call. It could be a sales call. Or it could be a call to your best friend. Or it could be to place an order or make a reservation. It does not matter.
The prayer can be simple: Lord, be with me during my phone call with ____________. Or, you could pray: Lord, I pray for whomever I speak with on my phone call. May they know that You love them.
It might seem strange, but give it a try and see if you enjoy your phone calls more.
(You can also do this for text message chats. It is the same idea. Just say a prayer before starting your chat.)
Want to learn more ideas about how to pray?
4. Wait on the Lord
Despite all of the conveniences of the modern information age, there are still times in life when we have to wait in line. This can be a good time to pray, as well.
Instead of pulling out your phone and checking your social media accounts, text messages, or email, you can think about praying to the Lord while you wait your turn in line.
First, you can talk to Him about your day. Maybe you are frustrated. (Remember, you are waiting in line.) Tell Him that and offer your frustration to Him. Or thank Him for something. Maybe ask Him for help with the rest of your day.
Second, pray for the cashier, postal worker, bank teller, barrista, store clerk, etc. Just say something like, "Lord, may that person know your Divine Mercy."
Third, pray for the other people in line. (They might be impatient, too.) You could pray that they might be drawn closer to the Lord that day.
Try this and see if it does not make a difference in your attitude and the interaction you have when you get to the front of the line.
5. Meet up with the Lord
Many times throughout the day we have to meet with people. It might be a meeting at work. It might be someone coming to fix something for us. It might be a doctor's appointment. Or you have to take your pet to the vet.
Take a moment before each of these planned meetings to say a prayer for your meeting and for the person with whom you will be meeting. Pray that all goes well with the meeting, pray for any needs that the person might have, and pray that you might be a blessing to that person.
If it is a work meeting, you might already be asking the Lord to end the meeting as soon as possible, but consider that you can pray during the meeting for the discussion to be productive or to break through a logjam. You can also consider praying for the needs of those are there. You might not know what they need, but the Lord does.
6. Praise the Lord
During most days, good things happen throughout the day. And when those good things happen, do not forget to thank the Lord. Perhaps you find a parking spot. (It is always good to ask for help in finding one, too.) Then thank God for that.
Or something goes well at work. Or it is a nice day outside. Or you hear from someone you have not heard from in a long time. Or someone in your family does something nice for you. If it involves a person, be sure to thank them. Then thank God for it, as well.
The important idea is that whether things are small or big, it is important to remember that, "every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights." (James 1:17) It is always good to remember to thank God for things throughout the day. It gives God the glory and it keeps you in a better frame of mind.
Right before St. Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to "Pray constantly", he exhorted them to "give thanks in all circumstances". (1 Th 5:17). Remembering to thank the Lord throughout the day is great way to do that.
7. Be Inspired
All day long, each of us have inspirations. It might be an idea for something we want to do, or it might be something we want to eat. It is an inspiration.
When it comes to prayer, we can be inspired throughout the day, as well. These types of inspirations generally come through our senses of sight and hearing. We read something or we hear something, and we are inspired with a thought. For instance, you read about a natural disaster and the people who are affected. Or you hear about a concern shared by your child or a colleague.
Take that inspiration and immediately say a quick prayer. Pray for those who are hurt and need help. Pray for your child or your colleague in the moment.
Why do that? Well, although we are less likely to forget some spoken or unspoken requests for prayer. Many times we will. If you pray in the moment, you will have interceded for that person without forgetting. Also, you can ask the Lord to help you when the situation might be particularly difficult and you are not sure what to say or do.
The basic idea is to say a prayer in the moment before you forget and to also help you keep in contact with God throughout the day.
Seek and You shall Find
Prayer is communicating with the Lord, and just as we look to find ways to communicate with friends, family, and colleagues, we should be looking for ways to talk with the Lord.
The way to do that is to look for God throughout your day. He is everywhere. He is in the people that you meet. He is in the good thoughts that you have. He is in your prayers. He is there with you in the circumstances that you encounter.
Jesus is Immanuel, that is "God is with us". He is not just Immanuel on Sundays or when we think about Him. No, He is there at all times, and He wants us to talk with Him.
He is thinking of You constantly, and He longs to hear from you. Yes, He knows everything, but He still wants to hear from you as you share your heart.
He wants to have a relationship with you. And that means being in communication with you. So take time to speak with Him in prayer throughout your day.
I think that if you start to use these seven ideas, you will begin to pray more throughout the day, and you will being to find even more ways to pray constantly. And, remember, as you fulfill St. Paul's exhoration, you will be praying as a Catholic.
As a recap, here are those seven ways:
1. Pray a Morning Offering Every Day
2. Pray while driving or when you are stuck in traffic
3. Pray before you communicate with someone via the phone, text, or email
4. Pray when you have to wait in line
5. Pray before you have a face-to-face meeting with someone
6. Pray to say thank you to God throughout the day
7. Pray when you are inspired with an idea
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