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I have been asked several times about my prayer routine and how to deepen your prayer life. I thought I would write a post outlining just what I do just in case some of you may be interested as well.
This is just an outline of my personal prayer time as it looks now. I thought it may five an example of how to deepen your prayer life.
My prayer has grown in the amount of time, the place I pray, the content, and the order in which I pray certain prayers over the years. It is ever-changing and I think it is supposed to be that way.
This is what I do. It doesn’t mean this is the right way or only way to pray. It is just what I do.
Maybe you are reading this and God has put the desire in your heart to be more committed to prayer. I hope this outline may give you some ideas and a place to start.
How to deepen your prayer life – beginning
I have been praying for as long as I can remember. It was always part of my life growing up. I have always made sure to say grace before meals and to pray before I fall to sleep. These simple prayers said faithfully kept me thinking that I was surely a person of prayer.
But, as I got older and began to experience the true joy, faith, and spiritual depth of committed Christians around me, I realized that my prayer life needed some serious attention. I wanted and desired a deeper prayer life.
It was during the years of my husband’s education and formation toward his ordination as a Catholic Deacon that my prayer life really began to be transformed and ultimately transform my entire life.
So, I thought I would share with you the resources and practices that I have discovered and have led me into the deeper and more life-changing relationship I have with Jesus today.
1) Create a specific routine, time & place
I know it sounds simple, but it really is an important part for creating a special encounter with God.
For me, an early rise before anyone gets up is best. I learned a long time ago that getting up first, with a nursing baby, or alone just works out best.
I can take my time, relax and really listen to what God may want to communicate with me.
I always have coffee ready to brew each morning upon rising. Actually, lately, my eleven-year-old daughter has taken it upon herself to get it ready for me. Not sure how long that will last, but I will enjoy it while she does.
I then head to the specific space where I sit for my prayers. It is in a room where I have many reminders of Our Lord.
But really, this space can be really anywhere you choose. Maybe you just have a specific chair, a candle, and a prayer card – that’s a perfect start.
Simplicity is an important factor in learning how to deepen your prayer life.
I sit comfortably facing a table, my kids call my prayer table, with candles lit during this special time. Above the table, hang a large crucifix and a picture of Mary. The lit candles remind me that this is a special & intimate time with my Savior.
In the middle of the table, a book stand holds the book of the Gospels that my husband received at his ordination.
The covering on the table and the candles are matched up to the Liturgical seasons within the Church. Right now it is white for the Easter Season.
The colors may not seem like a big deal, but for me, it helps me feel connected to my brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the whole world during my time of prayer.
2) The prayers I pray everyday…
I begin my prayer time with the rosary. I just feel like this powerful prayer introduces and turns my spirit and heart to the very life of Jesus right from the beginning.
At this time I offer my prayer intentions – family, friends & situations that need prayer.
As you journey through the life of Jesus by meditating on the mysteries you can’t help but be transformed and moved beyond words. It is gentle and powerful all at once.
When I am finished with the rosary, I then pray the Liturgy of the Hours also called the Office. This prayer was introduced to me during my husband’s seven years of formation.
We would attend retreats for the Deacon Candidates and their wives and we would all pray this every morning and evening. It is a prayer that all priests and religious promise to and pray everyday.
It is daily prayers, prayed throughout the day at certain times. Full of Psalms, scripture, and canticles taken from the Gospels it is so rich and definitely worth considering for your daily prayer time.
From the beginning, I have just loved the thought of praying along with all Clergy and religious throughout the world, the same prayer – I again find this comforting, powerful and so efficacious.
My husband prefers a series of books. This takes a little bit of knowledge and instruction. But, I am just a simple layperson, so the app is what is perfect for me.
(It still is a special treat when my husband joins me in this part of my morning prayer. He sometimes gets up early just for that prayer time together.)
Offering your day to God right from the start
Next comes the Morning Offering prayer. You can find it here. It just simply offers your day and all that it holds to Jesus as a prayer. Again, helping me begin the day heading in the right direction.
I then pray the Litany of Humility. Now, I have not always prayed this, I actually just started this year. But, it really is an eyeopening prayer and shows you just where you need to grow in humility. It is also a good time to ask for forgiveness, which we all need.
Oh, I have such a long way to go!
Next is a prayer to the Holy Spirit. This is such a beautiful prayer asking for the gifts and guidance of the Holy Spirit all through your daily tasks and decisions. You can use your own words or simply look online for an example.
I got the version I use from the Laudate App. You can find it in the App Store. It is full of resources like prayers, litany, daily Mass readings, etc. I really love the Laudate app.
Then the last thing I do before I sit in silent prayer is read the daily Mass readings. I like to use a booklet called ‘The Word Among Us“
You need to have a subscription to get this particular book. It comes in print or online.
In the monthly issues, you will receive the Old Testament, Psalm, and Gospel reading for every day. There is also a short reflection/meditation on each day’s reading for deeper prayer and understanding of the Scripture you just read.
Using this book daily often leads to, a more, in-depth reading. I just take my Bible and read the verses around the daily scripture reading to also help deepen my understanding.
(You can also get the daily readings online for free at usccb.org)
3) For a deeper prayer life – sit quietly and listen
This may sound simple, but it is really the most difficult part of prayer. We are so accustomed to talking and making sure the other person hears and understands what we are saying, that we often do the same thing to God.
I know I do!
This is the part of prayer where you don’t have to utter a word. You can simply sit, think about what you have prayed and read and then just listen.
Listen in the silence and let God speak to you as he wishes. You may not hear from him right then. But you will hear.
Maybe within an encounter that you make during the day.
Through a circumstance you are experiencing, or through the words of another person.
And many times it is right there in the midst of your special prayer time you have put aside for the most important person to you.
God delights in us. And He absolutely loves it when we put aside special time just to spend with Him.
The joy, graces and peace you will receive are worth any effort you may have to put in. And it grows with each passing day.
4) How much time?
I know you are probably thinking, “Wow Joy, how long does this all take?”
In the beginning, when I first started to put aside a time each day for prayer it wasn’t very long. I started with thirty minutes. It just grew from there in a natural way.
But, if that is too long, start with just five minutes. Decide what is doable for you. Maybe just start with the Rosary. Or begin by just consistently reading the daily scripture readings. Or even just recite a simple ‘Our Father’.
The benefits and growth in your prayer & relationship with Jesus is not due to the type of prayer or the length of it. Some may only need five minutes and their life is totally changed.
I simply needed a lot more than that and still do!
5) The right way to begin
Well, there is no right or wrong way to begin a powerful, deeper prayer life, and a daily encounter with God.
Just by deciding and preparing a place, picking your time and being consistent – you can totally and absolutely change your life in a way you could never have imagined…
Also, it doesn’t end there. The Bible tells us to pray always.
Simply talking to God throughout your day and thanking Him for his love and care is very important.
Asking for help (all the time), looking for him (even as your hands are in the sink of dirty dishes), or just listening for him in silence (or when the kids are fighting) are all ways to grow closer to him.
He becomes more real. He becomes your dearest friend whom you constantly look to.
I hope this outline can help you start and/or re-ignite your prayer routine and bring you to a more effective, stronger, and deeper understanding of how to deepen your prayer life.
A Catholic mom of 10 & a Deacon’s wife.
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