Tradional Prayer Techniques


I’m looking to really get into prayer and new methods to ignite the flame. I’ve done some research, and will continue to do more.
I would like your help along the way, it would be greatly appreciated.

Does anyone have some sources they can recite for me so I can research and learn
some ancient prayer techniques?

Watched a movie from medieval times and when the crusader prayed he did so kneeled down over a bench.

I want to set aside a room strictly biblical studies and prayers, so that I can shut out all
interruptions and distractions.

Thank you all for your help.

I chant the Liturgy of the Hours in a small and sparsely furnished oratory that I had built in my home office/study:

I purposely made it as plain as possible, in the monastic tradition, to avoid distraction.

The General Instructions of the LOTH mentions the specific postures for community recitation. They aren’t required in private recitation but can be used if desired. Here are some of them:

Crossing one’s lips with one’s right thumb at the verse “Lord open my lips…” used at the first Hour of the morning;

Sign of the cross at the other opening verse (“Lord come to my assistance…”)

Rising at the last verse of a psalm in order to be ready to…

…bow at the words “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit”.

Sign of the cross at the opening verse of the Gospel canticles (Benedictus, Magnificat and Nunc dimittis).

These are the most important ones. Some monasteries also have their own usage such as rising through the whole responsory or only the Gloria Patri part, or kneeling during the intercessions at Lent (and rising for them at other seasons). The advantage to using liturgical prayer is that it’s relatively standardized and has rubrics.

The gestures I mention above also have the benefit of very long established tradition.

I think you’ll find with non-liturgical prayers and devotions, there is a greater variety of practices that range from personal through regional to fairly universal.

The rosary is ancient and well attested.

The Liturgy of the Hours is the official prayer of the Church and goes back to antiquity.

Contemplative prayer and Lectio Divina are as old as the Church.

The two works which helped me the most are Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales and Prayer Primer by Thomas Dubay.

The important thing is to start. You can spend a lifetime setting up rooms and getting everything right but I know people who pray on the bus or while at work. A true disciple tries to live out the Lord’s command to pray constantly so the important part is to start today.


This is true.

Bus I can handle. Train I can handle. Car while my wife is driving I can handle (in fact it rather helps… but I digress).

But airports and airplanes… for the life of me I just can’t. I always bring my breviary along and get going and then there’s some stupid announcement about a delayed flight, change of departure gate, turbulence, the duty free cart is coming, a lesson for the challenged on how to fasten a seatbelt, or the passenger next to me chooses to go to the bathroom and crawl over me at the Gospel canticle… etc.

Ah for the good old days of travel where you could daily Mass 7 days in a row on a transatlantic voyage… and finish a good book as well.

It seems a brilliant arrangement within which to read and reflect on Biblical passages and engage in Lectio Divina.

And time to fall into and then out of love with a woman 15 years your senior as did a famous Cistercian monk many years prior to his solemn profession :wink:

Whenever I’m at the airport here in Atlanta I go to the “Ecumenical Faith Chapel” and pray. There could be five or six Muslims there all on their knees. I would think I’m the only Christian who has ever visited the Chapel except for that blue tub on the shelf with the words “Mass kit” written on it in red Sharpie.

Have you read “Praying with Benedict: Prayer in the Rule of St. Benedict” by Korneel Vermeiren? It is one of my favorite books and overdue for a reread.


Does anyone have some sources they can recite for me so I can research and learn
some ancient prayer techniques?

If you want to study ancient prayer, you might consider purchasing a Jewish Siddur (“prayer book”) which contains many ancient Hebrew prayers dating back thousands of years.

Art Scroll has perhaps some of the best Jewish prayer books from an Orthodox Jewish perspective, most of which have an English translation. While not thoroughly Catholic, you will be amazed at the breadth and depth of the prayers, as well as their commonality with many of the prayers said in the Traditional Latin Mass.

If you are looking for traditional Catholic resources, I would suggest the Monastic Diurnal from the Abbey Shop in England, which is the St. Benedict version of the Divine Office, exclusive of Matins (midnight prayer). It is an excellent resource, and contains many ancient prayers from the Book of Psalms (“Tehillim”).

Armed with a traditional Jewish Siddur, and a Monastic Diurnal, you could take a lifetime of study to thoroughly understand the contents of each book. If I were stranded on a desert island, and had to choose 2 prayer books to take with me, these would be the 2 books I would choose.

Both contain a treasure chest of ancient prayers.

Last suggestions: The Raccolta. This is the official list of prayers from the Catholic Church. Again, a treasure trove of ancient prayers, and a very beautiful layout as well. Baronius Press also released the Divine Office in 3 volumes, which is the Traditional Catholic version of the Liturgy of the Hours.

Well, hardly, unless you consider 1910 to be “traditional”. In a Church 2000 years old, 105 years is positively modern.

The Monastic Diurnal is the real deal though, it goes back to St. Benedict’s time in the 6th century. Most interestingly, the Benedictine Office does exist in a post-Vatican II form (the collects and liturgical year match the Liturgy of the Hours and the Ordinary Form Mass) so for Benedictines who continue to use that schema (there are now 3 others), there is continuity with Benedictine tradition as well as conformity with the modern Mass and liturgical year.

As actual daily prayer though, I find the Benedictine Office far too heavy for secular use (especially as I chant the Office in Gregorian chant). The LOTH is much better suited to secular life. In addition it does incorporate many traditional elements if one analyzes it carefully. And now there’s an excellent antiphonary for the day hours that allow it to be fully done in very traditional Gregorian chant at least for Lauds, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline.

I’m one of these weird people that thinks “traditional” doesn’t have to mean “exactly the same”, but rather that deeply traditional elements such as traditional antiphons, psalms retaining their place at their traditional Hours, etc., continue onwards in spite of adaptations to modern realities.

There’s plenty of options!

The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius is a good one, which includes the Examen and Ignatian Contemplation.

Well, hardly, unless you consider 1910 to be “traditional”. In a Church 2000 years old, 105 years is positively modern.

By the term “traditional”, I was referring to traditional Catholicism – i.e., those Catholics that celebrate the traditional Latin Mass, also referred to as the Tridentine Mass or Mass in Extraordinary Form. This is the Mass as it was celebrated prior to Vatican II. Generally, traditional Catholics are more apt to pray the Divine Office as it stood pre-Vatican II.

The Divine Office - or Liturgy of the Hours - have as their basis, regardless of version, the Book of Psalms, which is the predominant focus of these prayers. In Judaism, Jews use a prayer book called “Tehillim”, which is the Book of Psalms with structured psalms to be read daily, similar to the Divine Office.

As I noted earlier, the original poster was looking for “ancient prayer” ideas. Certainly, the Latin Mass should be considered, as well as ancient Jewish prayer sources.


Wow thank all of you very much for all the great resources you have given me so I can start living a more devout life!

I love the office space you set up as well I’m looking into doing something like that.

I’ve got the rosary down and I pray that. I work in the oil field as a technician, so I get a 30 minute break in the morning, lunch break, and evening break, so It’s kind of hard to read the book of hours with taking the time to actually read them slowly how they are meant to be read.

Again thank you all very much : D

Considering that you are a technician in the oil field (I’m not clear what your daily tasks look like), would it be possible to pray the “Jesus Prayer” while you work? That is, a repetitive constant prayer "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

I’m given to understand that it originated with the Eastern Church. When I’m working and don’t particularly need to have all my mental focus on the task, I find this prayer very helpful.

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