I’m starting up a prayer schedule. Any words of advice? What are some essential prayer or types of prayer that I should include?
Why not try the Liturgy of the Hours?
When I first returned to the Church and was looking for a way to “regulate” my prayer life, this is what my spiritual director suggested. I would pray Morning Prayer when I woke up, the Office of Readings at lunchtime, Evening Prayer just before dinner and Night Prayer w/ the Ignatian Examen right before bed. This helped me to create a routine, which for the most part I still continue. I no longer use the Breviery as I have developed my own structure based on the readings of the day and the Spirtiual Exercises of St. Ignatius.
Praying the LOTH helped me to connect to the larger Chruch, because even though I was praying alone, somewhere, someone else was praying the same hour too. And the Office of Readings is a great way to introduce yourself to the writings of the early Chruch Father’s, especially the 4-volume set!!
The LOTH is good.
The Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet are some other good prayers. Lectio Divina is good.
I would also encourage you to schedule in some Adoration Time and Daily Mass or Mass as often as you can, as Mass is the highest prayer that we can offer.
My counsel is to start off slowly and gently, and then continue to add things. When I first started out praying the LOTH, I could only manage Lauds, but now after some time, I pray all seven offices.
The Rosary, I am starting to pray by a decade at a time, to work up to a full Rosary. So it’s different.
I usually do short prayer thoughout the day when I am not actively praying.
As a foundation, I would recommend three Hail Marys in the morning and evening, with some small invocation such as “Oh Mary, mother of God, protect me from mortal sin this day/night.” Also, a daily rosary is also an excellent devotion, as it is something that mother Mary asked for at Fatima. I also heard an excellent homily on AudioSancto.org yesterday that really brought a lot of clarity to the benefits of a daily rosary - The Rosary: Antidote to the Three Chief Modern Problems.
I’ve also been spending time each day in mental prayer. Mental prayer, or meditation, is simply puting yourself in the presence of God, and dwelling on holy truths. St. Alphonsus Liguori, a doctor of the church says, “It is impossible for him who perseveres in mental prayer to continue in sin: he will either give up meditation or renounce sin.” There are lots of sermons at Audio Sancto that talk about how to practice mental prayer, but this is one of my favorites: Persevere in Prayer. There are many books that can teach you about mental prayer, but two I have read and recommend are Conversation with Christ , by Peter Thomas Rohrbach and Catechism of Mental Prayer.
The most important thing about prayer is to get to a schedule and stick to it. I am certainly not an expert in prayer, but the advice of a good spiritual director can give you much more direction in more specific devotions that will help you grow closer to Christ. If you don’t have a spiritual director, you should pray to see if that is something that you should have in your life. Prayer’s cool like that - whatever the question is, He has the answer.
Yes, the LOTH is a wonderful way to pray alone, yet one is in communion with others who are saying that same prayer at that hour, both religious and lay.
Unless you have someone explain to you, it may be a little difficult initially to pray the LOTH as it is meant to be prayed.
The Christian Prayer, single volume book, might be what you need to begin. It is available through the Catholic Book Publishing Corp. (online, and through Amazon too). You may also want to purchase the inexpensive **Saint Joseph Guide for Christian Prayer 2011 ** at the same time (about $2.50) to find the appropriate pages to mark with the colored ribbons that are included in the single volume prayer book. The guide is published annually, is quite thin and fits inside the cover of the single volume. I have found it to be invaluable, particularly on the feast days and solemnities.
You can also go online and read the hours along with a very dedicated group headed by Dane Falkner, at www:divineoffice.org It’s available on iphone and other platforms too. That way, you don’t even need the Christian Prayer volume, but you’ll want it. It’s such a blessing to have it nearby.
There is also a step-by-step guide for praying the LOTH, called The Divine Office for DoDos, by Madeline Pecora Nugent, which helped me get started, but there’s nothing like actually beginning and getting familiar with it.
Priests, Religious, and some lay groups are obliged to pray the entire LOTH, but you can choose whichever hours you feel able to complete. Once you begin, you’ll probably find that you can and want to do more.
The Ignatian Examen is a wonderful way to be mindful of God in your day. There is a very lovely and helpful examen at www.Ignatianspirituality.com
There is one six-part series on the site called the Lenten Lunchtime Examen, by a gentleman named Jim Manney, which is a great help to those who are unfamiliar with the examen. His voice is so gentle and calming, the background music so quiet and unassuming, that you can’t help but return to it again and again. There is much additional on that site that will help too.
I began praying LOTH about two years ago, and through the grace of the Holy Spirit, prayer has become more meaningful and important to me. I’ve found it is impossible to get to the end of a day and say to myself, “Oh dear, I forgot about God today.”
I know I’ve written too much here. God bless you.
Start gently, as you would an exercise program. You want to develop a schedule that you will stick with.
There are some standard times for various prayers that might give you an idea of where to start. Just choose one to begin.
The Angelus is generally said at 6am, noon, & 6 pm.
Time for the Chaplet of Divine Mercy is 3pm. Many people schedule a prayer hour at 3pm.
6am Lauds or Morning Prayer. Praise the Risen Lord
9am Terce = Midmorning Prayer= Hour of Pentecost
Noon Sext = Midday Prayer
3pm None = Midafternoon Prayer = the hour of the Crucifixion
6pm Vespers = Evening Prayer = Hour of the Last Supper
9 pm Compline = Night Prayer
Martins, the Office of Readings may be prayed anytime. I pray Martins just before Lauds. Christian Prayer will show you how to do that. Because Christian Prayer lacks the non-Biblical readings, I substitute a spiritual book of choice.
Lauds & Vespers are considered the anchor hours for LOTH. If you do decide to pray the LOTH, begin with either.
Many families, including my own, prayed the rosary immediately after supper. I prefer praying the rosary earlier in the day.
The Montfort Fathers and the Daughters of Wisdom use the Little Crown of the Blessed Virgin Mary as their morning prayer. I pray this prayer after Lauds in the morning.
The websites of various religious orders provide the prayer schedule that they use.
The main thing is to not be overwhelmed by a too rigid schedule. Start slow and add.