Changing My Daily Prayers

I read David Torkington’s “The Resolution to end all Resolutions” and started a new prayer routine three years ago.

My starting point was Lauds and Vespers from Liturgy of the hours. Don’t be too impressed. Lauds was recognizable after my adaptation. But I reduce Vespers to something I could reliably remember, late in the day.

Morning and Evening, Memorizing and Me

When I started, my morning and evening routines totaled 520 words, including the Lord’s Prayer in both.

I made a printed copy of both sets, and still use the ‘morning’ copy. The ‘evening’ copy, not so much.

Like I said, I reduced that set to something I could reliably remember. Which isn’t much, late in the day, when I’m well past peak mental performance.

I’ve idly speculated that there may be blooper tape analogs in the heavenly realms, recording my prayerful efforts on the borderlands of sleep. And that’s another topic.

Ideally, maybe, I’d have had morning and evening prayers memorized before I began. And recited all 520 words flawlessly each and every day for the last three years.

That didn’t happen.

Bitterly berating myself for memorizing what I can and reading the rest is an option. But not, I think, a reasonable one. I might as well wail and gnash my teeth because I haven’t memorized Sacred Scripture. All 73 books.1 And that’s yet another topic. Topics.

What Prayer Should Be

Backing up a bit, should I be praying at all?

Briefly, yes. Emphatically, yes. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 25662567))

And what is prayer, for that matter?

Prayer is — should be — “a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God.” (Catechism, 2258)

Speaking of which, I’ve heard and read that each of us should have a “personal” relationship with God.

I think I know what folks who say and write that mean. But the exhortation makes little sense to me, until I remember what’s meant.

The way I see it, I’m a person. God is three persons. A “personal” relationship strikes me as the only sort we could have. Getting back to prayer —

More About Prayer

Prayer is a gift from God, a covenant and communion. (Catechism, 25592565)

We’ve got five sorts of prayer: blessing and adoration, petition, intercession, thanksgiving and praise. (Catechism, 26232643)

I’ve felt, and feel, a bit awkward “blessing” God. Remembering that I’m reflecting blessings that come from the Almighty helps. (Catechism, 2626)

Should prayers be spontaneous or routine?

Yes.

Routine, scheduled prayer is a good idea. Spontaneous prayer is a good idea. Praying only when I feel like it, not so much. (Catechism, 2629, 2650, 2698)

Prayers aren’t just reciting phrases and performing predetermined gestures. Believing that prayer works if I go through the motions, doing a strictly external performance, would be dropping into superstition. And a bad idea. (Catechism, 2111)

Thinking about what a prayer’s words mean is important. (Catechism, 2688)

Prayer is a gift of grace. It’s something I can’t do unless I decide it’s worth the effort. (Catechism, 2725)

Prayer is a battle against attitudes I’ve learned from “this present world,” pitfalls dug when time did not yet exist; and against my own shortcomings. (Catechism, 391395, 27252728)

That sounds, and is, very far from easy.

Happily, there’s help available: drawing from two millennia of Christian experience, built on a much deeper foundation. (Catechism, 26852690)

Prayer is always possible. Even when it’s not easy. That’s a good thing, since trying to be a Christian without prayer won’t work. Prayer makes sharing the love Jesus has for each of us — all of us, everyone — possible. (Catechism, 27422745)

Spending Time

I checked off ‘fifteen minutes of daily prayer’ on a ‘what I’ll do this year’ form distributed at a Mass before Lent.

I thought I was already doing that. My morning prayers, plus a varying set of intentions, felt like at least fifteen minutes.

I was wrong.

Checking the clock before and after told me that I was putting in five minutes. If that.

My short-term solution was to add a Divine Mercy Chaplet to my evening prayers.

That was an interesting experience. And, if my ‘blooper tape’ speculation reflects reality, added a reel or two to the collection.

When Lent started, I started my usual Lenten Chaplet and moved the Divine Mercy Chaplet to morning prayers.

My morning prayers now take nearly 20 minutes. Not that protracted prayer is better than momentary meditation or concise contemplation.

But I figure that spending time praying, focusing on God, is a good idea. And that it can’t hurt to take maybe 20 minutes each day doing so.

The Lenten Chaplet will be over when Lent is. That will leave me a few minutes shy of my target again. My plan is replacing it with the Rosary.

Mostly Links

I’d talk about prayer and COVID-19, but Deacon Scott Dodge did that yesterday:

I thought he made sense.

I thought I made sense in these posts, too. Your experience may vary:


1 Sacred Scripture’s books:

About Brian H. Gill

I'm a sixty-something married guy with six kids, four surviving, in a small central Minnesota town. I mostly write and make digital art. I'm only interested in three things: that which exists within the universe; that which exists beyond; and that which might exist.
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