Prayer Routine: Month Eight

Jesus said we should always pray. Our Lord gave us pointers about prayer, too: the parable of the persistent widow and another about the pharisee and the tax collector. That’s in Luke 18:114.

Maybe someone’s taken those verses and decided it means that Christians should be saying prayers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Or at least until our voices give out or we drop from exhaustion.

I’m pretty sure that’s not what our Lord had in mind. Prayer is important, though.

“Rejoice always.
Pray without ceasing.”
(Thessalonians 5:1617)

One of the ways we “pray always” is by doing vespers.

These evening prayers have been around longer than my civilization’s current iteration, in one form or another. They’re currently part of the Liturgy of the Hours.

Doing that is part of being a priest or deacon. Some monastic orders follow it, too. It’s not just for those folks, though.

Prayer didn’t start with Liturgy of the Hours. Not by a long shot.

In a sense, we’re surrounded by ongoing prayers that started long before we did. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2569)

“World Without End” and Me

“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the firmament proclaims the works of his hands.”
(Psalms 19:2)

Anything I do very likely won’t add much to songs and praise mentioned in Job 38:7 and Psalms 19:2.

Fretting about that doesn’t make sense to me. Neither does brooding on where I fit between the wealthy man and the widow in Luke 21:14. I figure praying is a better use of my time than worrying about it.

The start of Luke 21 is more about charity than prayer, now that I think about it.

I started a new prayer routine February 13. A little over seven months later, I’m still doing it. Pretty much.

The routine is two sets of prayers, one in the morning and the other at night. They’re based on Lauds and Vespers.

I start with the Lord’s prayer and wrap things up with a doxology I know —

“Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.”

Maybe you’ve met someone who insists that prayers aren’t really prayers unless you use a particular language, or pray in a room without windows — or adhere to some other custom.

My native language is English, so that’s what I use. I nearly always do the morning set at my desk, since that’s where I keep a printed copy of the prayers. But I don’t think that makes my prayers better or worse.

I think picking a location and time is a good idea. It helps me remember what I’m supposed to be doing.

‘At my desk’ won’t work for everyone. I don’t see a problem with that. Many folks don’t have desks, and wouldn’t need or use one. No problem there, either. Not that I can see.

Not Perfect, Praying Anyway

The morning set isn’t an issue. I’m awake by the time I sit down, and have a printout to help me remember what I do.

The evening set is another matter.

The good news is that I don’t need a cheat sheet for the Lord’s prayer and doxology.

That’s bad news, too; or could be, if I rattled the words off without paying attention.

Particularly if I got the notion that external form was the important part. (Catechism, 2111)

I don’t always remember the evening prayers while I’m at my desk. I’m not particularly alert that time of day, so more often than not I’ve gone through the rest of my evening routine before noticing that it’s time to pray.

Writhing in guilt and anguish over my failure is an option. But not a sensible one, I think. Instead, I’ve made a point of remembering what my prayers say.

Not the exact words, but the sequence of ideas. That’s a bit easier for me to remember, and lets me do the routine no matter where I am. Staying awake through the whole thing took effort a few times, and that’s another topic.

Surrounded by Beauty and Wonders

Basically, prayer is a relationship with God, a gift of grace. It’s something I decide to do, or not. (Catechism, 22582565)

Prayers can be spontaneous and should be routine. It shouldn’t be all one or the other. (Catechism, 2629, 2650, 27002719)

It depends partly on what sort of prayers they are. (June 11, 2017; February 19, 2017)

Another way to sort and label prayers is by what they’re about. We’ve got prayers of blessing and adoration, petition, intercession, thanksgiving, and praise. (Catechism, 26232642)

Petitions, asking God for something, are requests, not demands. I can’t make God do anything. Maybe that’s obvious. (Psalms 115:3; Catechism, 268)

My morning and evening prayers have some routine petitions.

I could add personal requests, too, but generally do that outside of the routine. ‘Extras’ for the morning prayers come from a local prayer group. I’m on their calling list, giving me opportunities to pray for others.

If I had to pick a favorite sort of prayer, it’d probably be praise and thanksgiving.

No matter where we look, we’re surrounded by beauty and wonders. I like telling God how much I admire this universe, and my gratitude for God’s work — and mercy.

“Indeed, before you the whole universe is as a grain from a balance, or a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth.
“But you have mercy on all, because you can do all things; and you overlook sins for the sake of repentance.
“For you love all things that are and loathe nothing that you have made; for you would not fashion what you hate.”
(Wisdom 11:2224)

More, mostly about prayer and thanksgiving:

About Brian H. Gill

I was born in 1951. I'm a husband, father and grandfather. One of the kids graduated from college in December, 2008, and is helping her husband run businesses and raise my granddaughter; another is a cartoonist and artist; #3 daughter is a writer; my son is developing a digital game with #3 and #1 daughters. I'm also a writer and artist.
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