A pattern of daily Catholic prayer will help you stay close to Christ each day.
And what you practice each day, you'll do for eternity!
This article will tell you:
- Common prayers for daily Catholic prayer
- How to use them for maximum benefit
Why bother with daily Catholic prayer?
...because it's an essential part of the interior life!
The easiest way to start (or re-start!) a prayer life is to simply add a few quick prayers into your day.
- This gets you praying
- You learn in the school of some outstanding Catholic prayers
- You frame the day in prayer
- You turn to God in the fabric of everyday life
This last point is very important! Daily Catholic prayer must be a part of your normal life, not something "extra" that you tack onto it.
The practice of Catholic daily prayer will give you a strong basis to develop another essential part of the Catholic spiritual life: mental prayer.
So let's get started!
The daily rhythm
You pray with the flow and rhythm of your ordinary day to develop a habit of daily Catholic prayer.
It's easy to do this. There are three quick steps:
- Find some major points in your day
- Choose a quick prayer for each
- Say the chosen prayer at the right point in your day
It helps to print out the prayers you choose. Keep them with you.
Commit to following them for one week so they become a habit.
Each daily Catholic prayer will ground you in awareness of God's presence. When your day is "framed" like this by short prayers, you get used to talking with God throughout the day. This is a good thing.
Please know that this is essential to developing a life of prayer! We are all called to holiness. Really. And to get there, you've got to live like everything depends on God. Because it does!
This path of daily Catholic prayer is deeply rooted in the Catholic Church's long tradition of prayer. It's an easy and very effective way to grow closer to God.
What could be easier?
How to use the prayers
Of course, this is not the only way to pray! But it's an outstanding start. Most Catholics use traditional Catholic prayers as some part of their daily routine.
The best advice: do not just rattle them off as fast as possible!
Let them nourish and express your own prayer. Your goal in daily Catholic prayer is to converse with God.
- Think about what these Catholic prayers can teach you about God, about yourself, and about how to pray.
- Listen quietly to hear the will of God. "The prayer of faith consists not only in saying 'Lord, Lord,' but in disposing the heart to do the will of the Father." (Catechism, 2611, referring to Mt 7:21)
- Slow down. Feel the words with your heart. "If our heart is far from God, the words of prayer are in vain." (Catechism, 2562)
- When your mind wanders off, let the words of the prayer help restore your focus on God.
Don't get hung up on these specific prayers. Traditional written prayers are wonderful: you don't struggle to find your own words, they teach you a lot, and you're united with many others using the same words all over the world.
But you may need to adapt them to your own circumstances.
Here's a suggested set of prayers to frame your day. (All of these and many more are contained in the Handbook of Prayers, edited by James Socias.)
This outline follows the traditional points of the day for daily Catholic prayer: morning, before meals, the beginning of work, noon, and night.
Again, you should adapt this to fit your own circumstances.
So let's start daily Catholic prayer first thing in the morning!
Morning prayer is a quick way to offer yourself and your whole day to God.
It is a choice to begin anew each day, and to clearly choose God at the very start of the day.
Some people make a simple and informal prayer as soon as they wake up: "I will serve you, Lord"; or "Lord, help me to love and serve you today"; or even just "serviam" (Latin for "I will serve"). These are all great parts of daily Catholic prayer.
This traditional Catholic morning prayer is also very common:
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart, in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, in thanksgiving for your favors, in reparation for my sins, for the intentions of all my relatives and friends, and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father. Amen.
Grace before meals
Most Christians say grace before meals to give thanks to the Lord. Grace is an important part of daily Catholic prayer. This is often the first way that children are exposed to a life of prayer.
Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts, which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Beginning of work
A brief minute just before starting work is another important opportunity for prayer. This daily Catholic prayer is from an ancient form of the Litany of the Saints:
Direct, we beg you, O Lord, our actions by your holy inspirations, and grant that we may carry them out with your gracious assistance, that every prayer and work of ours may begin always with you, and through you be happily ended. Amen.
This is an alternate prayer to use at the beginning of work, or at the beginning of the day. This traditional daily Catholic prayer helps us acknowledge the presence of God, ask for his help and protection, and dedicate the day's work to him.
Lord, God Almighty, you have brought us safely to the beginning of this day. Defend us today by your mighty power, so that we may not fall into any sin, and that all our words may so proceed and all our thoughts and actions be so directed as to be always just in your sight. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Noon: The Angelus
The Angelus is a traditional daily Catholic prayer that's often said at 12 noon. This prayer is a beautiful meditation on the Incarnation, and on Mary's role in it.
This is often said as a group prayer, with the leader speaking the V parts and the group responding with the R lines. If you're saying it alone, just read both parts together.
V — The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R — And she conceived by the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary... (Say The Hail Mary here.)
V — Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R — Be it done unto me according to thy word.
V — And the Word was made Flesh.
R — And dwelt among us.
V — Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
R — That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
LET US PRAY: Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord, your grace into our hearts, that we to whom the incarnation of Christ, your Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by his passion and cross be brought to the glory of his resurrection. Through the same Christ our Lord.
Saying the Angelus at noon is a wonderful way to mark noontime, the center of each day. It helps us return our focus to the eternal. The Angelus steeps us in the spirituality of Mary, with its complete and humble service to the Lord.
If you're at work during this time, it's easy to say it quietly to yourself before heading to lunch.
The Angelus is also discussed in the article on prayers to the Blessed Mother.
Night: The daily examination
In developing a habit of daily Catholic prayer, one very important time is just before going to bed.
This is an opportunity to spend a few brief minutes reviewing the day with the Lord. We call this the "daily examination of conscience."
This simple exercise helps you see the events of your day from the perspective of a child of God. This really amounts to only three quick "words" to say in the examination itself.
- Place yourself in the presence of God, and ask for his help in examining your day.
- Examine your day (the three "words"):
- "Thank you": Thank the Lord for the blessings of the day.
- "I'm sorry": Acknowledge your faults specifically and directly.
- "Please help me more": Ask the Lord for help for tomorrow. Make specific resolutions.
- Make an act of contrition (see below).
- End with an Our Father and a Hail Mary.
It's generally recommended to take only about 2 or 3 minutes for the examination part itself, or up to 1 minute for each "word." A short time like this can help you keep focused when you're tired.
Here's a traditional Act of Contrition:
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell; but most of all because they offend you, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.
I can't recommend this strongly enough: The daily examination of conscience is an essential part of the Christian life. Make it one of the first things you add to your pattern of daily Catholic prayer.
It helps you develop your awareness of how you're doing day-to-day in your life as a follower of Christ. Only by clearly seeing the details of each day, can we hope to improve.
One week to a new life!
Now you have everything you need to let God breathe new life into your faith:
- A wonderful set of Catholic prayers
- A strategy for making daily Catholic prayer a part of your life
So start now!
Form a specific plan that will work for you. Pick the prayers you'll use. Then commit to just one week.
Follow your plan every day. I know, it may seem a little strange on the first day. It's new; that's to be expected.
But the second day will feel more natural. And then you'll realize that your habit of daily Catholic prayer is comforting! It brings peace and order even to a hectic day. Your awareness of God's presence in your daily life is growing.
...you have a habit of praying! You do it throughout your day, from morning to night, and it's great. It takes only a few seconds here & there, and you've made your life richer.
More than that, you've brought God into your life.
And you'll never turn back!
This article on daily Catholic prayer is only one from a set of articles on Catholic prayers. See the other articles for many other wonderful Catholic prayers. You'll also find sound guidance for easily developing your prayer life in How to Pray.
The Web site CatholicCulture.org also has many more prayers that are ideal for daily Catholic prayer (opens a new browser window). CatholicCulture.org is a major Catholic site, and has many outstanding resources.
See our home page for more articles for the beginning Catholic.