The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no. 66)
Praying Every Day:
Help From the Church's Treasury of Prayer
In my last reflection we recalled St. Paul's words about prayer. “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). And I suggested that that, for most of us, a constant habit of prayer begins with a regular discipline of “saying our prayers”. This involves saying a chosen set of prayers that have been commended to us by the Christian devotional tradition.
The Church teaches us that morning and evening prayer provide the most natural structure for a life of prayer. There are many forms of prayer provided for the start and the end of the day. If you do not already have a fixed order of such prayers, I recommend two very fine publications. The Handbook of Prayers, published by the Midwest Theological Forum, provides a brief order of prayer for morning and evening, along with a wealth of resources for praying and living the Catholic Faith. A second publication is the beautifully printed Magnificat—a monthly missalette received by mail (www.magnificat.com). Many thousands of Catholics, especially young adults, subscribe to Magnificat, which provides, not only morning, evening, and night prayers, but also the mass readings and prayers for every day of the month. Both publications provide online resources.
Along with a guide for morning and evening prayers, it is a great help to have a few memorized prayers to carry with you throughout the day, prayers that can be quietly spoken or silently called to mind in the midst of the day's responsibilities and challenges. Many Catholics know by heart the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel—a cry for protection and strength in the spiritual battles we must fight every day. Here are some lesser-known examples of what I call pocket prayers.
In times of temptation:
O Lord, almighty and everliving God, you have brought me in safety to this new day. Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin nor be overcome in adversity, and in everything I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
In the afternoon hours:
Heavenly Father in whom we live and move and have our being: We humbly pray you so to guide and govern us by your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life, we may not forget you, but remember that we are ever walking in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
We give thanks to you, heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ your dear Son, that you have this day so graciously protected us. We beg you to forgive us all our sins and the wrong which we have done. By your great mercy defend us from all the perils and dangers of this night. Into your hands we commend our bodies and souls, and all that is ours. Let your holy angels have charge of us, that the wicked one have no power over us. Amen.
At any time, the prayer of St. Ignatius Loyola:
Lord Jesus Christ, take all my freedom, my memory, my understanding, and my will. All that I have and cherish you have given me. I surrender it all to be guided by your will. Your grace and your love are wealth enough for me. Give me these, Lord Jesus, and I ask for nothing more.
I don't need to remind you of the beloved Hail Mary, a prayer that, in its repetition, enfolds us in Christ's love; and the prayer that is the fountainhead of all prayer: Our Father . . . . These prayers we “pray without ceasing” because through them we enter the mystery of a never ceasing Love.
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