Yesterday, I talked about how I had issues with fasting. Today, I want to talk about the second pillar of Lent, prayer. (Incidentally, that’s the prompt for today’s CSLentIPJ challenge.)
I have an easier time with prayer than fasting. In fact, increasing prayer is actually my favorite part of Lent. For this blog post, I’ll talk about the types of prayer I like to pray on a regular basis. I hope that this will give you some ideas for increasing your prayer life during this Lenten season.
Back to Basics
Fr. Robert Barron said in his Lenten Reflection yesterday that Lent is a time when we get back to basics. So I’m listing some basic prayers simple enough to start with.
- The Rosary. I usually pray the Rosary right when I’m going to sleep. Sometimes, I fall asleep before finishing. Sometimes, I don’t. And like many saints, I have problems concentrating when I pray. What I personally do is follow Pope Francis’s Five Finger Prayer and dedicate each decade to certain people. I would pray the first decade for those closest to me, the second for my enemies or fallen-away Catholics, and so on. Another good time for praying the Rosary is during your daily commute. You’re stuck in traffic for at least 30 minutes. Pray a Hail Mary for the people who cut you off or have road rage issues. Believe me, it’ll make driving a less stressful experience.
- The Divine Mercy chaplet. I learned this particular prayer during my college days. Traditionally, it’s prayed at 3PM, but if you don’t think you have time for that, remember that, it’s 3 o’clock somewhere. I usually pray it with my dad whenever we ran errands around town. For Lent, Dad and I pray it at its traditional time.
- The Angelus. I used to hate this prayer as a kid. Imagine your typical Catholic school kid with an empty stomach, waiting for the lunch bell to ring. Then as soon as the bell rings, you want to bolt to the cafeteria, but first, you have to pray what feels like a million Hail Mary’s. Given my childish impatience, this prayer felt like it took forever to pray. Now, I don’t mind it so much. I still don’t pray it myself personally, but I know a lot of people who do and have a great devotion to it.
And if you really feel like you really don’t have time to pray, St. Peter’s List has 10 Prayers that you can pray in 5 seconds or less.
- Lectio Divina. I’ve stated before that I’ve added Lectio Divina to my prayer routine. I first discovered Lectio Divina while on a vocations retreat and I love how it incorporates scripture into prayer. I subscribed to an online Catholic Bible study from the Heart of Mary Women’s Fellowship. If you don’t know how to pray Lectio Divina, the HOMWF has a series of posts that show you how.
- The Examen. The Examen is another form of meditative prayer. Usually prayed in the late afternoon or at night, this Jesuit prayer is a great way to reflect on the day. There are a lot of different ways to pray the Examen. I usually pray in the form of prayer journaling. I would put myself in God’s presence, write about what happened to me that day, write about the things I was grateful for, and ask God to give me a better day tomorrow.
- Adoration. One beautiful form of silent meditation is Adoration. Ideally, you would spend an hour in Adoration. It won’t be an easy hour, by the way. If you need help getting past the boredom, Rachel and Kateri have a video that can help. Back when I was in college, I had a hard time figuring out how exactly I wanted to spend my time in Adoration. Eventually, I would spend half an hour meditating in silence or reading something and spend another half hour praying the Rosary.
In spite of what Protestants may think, there are Catholic devotionals out there. You can subscribe to daily Lenten reflections like Fr. Robert Barron’s, the Share Jesus program from Redeemed Online, or have your Best Lent Ever with Matthew Kelly. There are probably a ton of other’s I’m probably forgetting. Thankfully, Aggie Catholic was kind enough to create a megapost.
For something not so tech-heavy, I suggest reading Josemaria Escriva’s The Way. It’s not a devotional in the traditional sense, but there’s a lot of advice in that little book that will challenge you. You can also meditate on the readings from Daily Mass (which you can get in a Magnificat or on Blessed Is She). Or go to praymorenovenas.com and start up a series of 9-day prayers. You can also do a 54-day Rosary Novena if you’re feeling particularly ambitious and want a prayer routine that goes beyond the 40 days of Lent.
If you’re up for a real challenge of a devotional, you can always consecrate yourself to Jesus through Mary. Created by St. Louis de Montfort, Marian consecration is a doozy of a devotional that involves a lot of daily prayers. I consecrated myself during Lent last year, starting on February 20th and ending on March 25th, the feast of the Annunciation. Which means I’ll be renewing my consecration this year.
Today’s picture is a throwback to my current favorite prayer, the Serenity prayer. It’s been helping me out a lot, but I’ll go into detail about how in a later blog post.