7 Tools That Have Strengthened My Prayer Life as a Catholic
Prayer is an important part of life as a believer. During Christ’s ministry, He regularly withdrew from the company of others to spend time by Himself in prayer. He taught His disciples to pray using the Lord’s Prayer and before He endured His crucifixion, He strengthened Himself through prayer.
As we strive to imitate Christ in all things, it is clear that prayer needs to be a regular part of our life. In 1st Thessalonians, Paul tells believers to “pray without ceasing.” But yet, many of us struggle to pray.
Either we don’t have time, we struggle to take advantage of the time we have, or we don’t know where to start when we have time set aside. When we look at the options around us, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the apps and options available to us. We want to be prayer warriors, but we are often limited by both ourselves and our expectations of what our prayer life should look like.
But, especially in this age of easily accessible media and resources, there are so many tools that can help us! Instead of becoming discouraged or overwhelmed, we should thank God for the opportunities to join in prayer, use the options that He leads us to and are helpful for us, and be willing to set aside the ones that are unhelpful to us personally.
We are all created uniquely. Each of us will have tools that are helpful for us and things that, while helpful for others, might not be particularly helpful for us.
With that caveat, there are things that have helped me grow my prayer life. While I certainly have a long way to go, I would be remiss if I didn’t encourage others by sharing what has helped me in the hopes that some elements may help them as well.
Note: Some of the links below are affiliate links which means I may receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you) should you decide to make a purchase.
1. Praying the Psalms
Praying the Psalms has been one of the most formative ways I’ve grown my prayer life. The Psalms are God’s prayer book. They express a wide range of emotions (and teach us how to share our emotions with God in prayer) but are also grounded and rooted in His sovereignty and goodness. Praying a psalm out loud, either along with a recording (like the Dwell app) or by reading your Bible can be a beautiful way to memorize the Psalms and develop a habit of prayer.
Novenas are simply a practice of seeking intercession or praying for a specific intention for 9 days (patterned after the 9 days the believers in the book of Acts prayed for the Holy Spirit between the Ascension of Jesus and Pentecost). I have found PrayMoreNovenas.com to be an incredibly helpful tool in, well praying more novenas! You can choose a specific Novena (either praising the Lord for a specific characteristic or asking for the intercession of a specific saint or intention) or can join in a community novena with believers around the world.
3. Hallow App
Recently, I’ve been enjoying praying with the Hallow App. It’s a beautifully designed, simple way to help encourage your prayer life. There is a free version that has daily rosaries, the Divine Mercy chaplet, Lectio Divine with the daily Gospel reading, as well as options to pray in your own words for several minutes with background music and a prompt on when the time if over.
One of the unique features of the Hallow App is the ability to choose how long you would like to pray for by adjusting how much quiet, meditative time there is between spoken prayers. After every prayer is over, the app also encourages you to journal reflections/responses. (There is also a paid version that has several additional prayers, novenas, options, etc.)
4. Keeping a Rosary in My Car
The rosary became an important part of my prayer life as I decided to embrace the traditions of the Church. One practical way I decided to pray more and specifically develop a habit of praying the rosary was to keep the rosary in my car and pray while driving. It became a clear, marked way to set aside time alone in the car as time I could offer to the Lord.
Spending time with the Lord in Adoration has been a beautiful way to grow my prayer life and sit in silence in a way that typically would make me uncomfortable. Setting aside an hour or two, without the distractions of my phone or home life, to spend solely in prayer is an amazing gift. If you’ve been struggling to enter deeply into prayer or are easily distracted, consider spending an hour a week in Adoration!
6. Lighting Candles
We all know the power of routine. If you’re wanting to sleep better or start your say well, you have a strong morning and evening routine. You do physical things to remind yourself that you’re preparing for something specific. Lighting a prayer candle can be a simple way to trigger your brain that you’re setting apart this time from the rest of your day and entering into “prayer mode.”
7. Asking God to Help Me Pray
Recently, my priest reminded us all in a sermon on prayer to ask God to help us develop a strong prayer life. Prayer is something all believers are called to and God wants us to develop a strong relationship with Him through prayer. If you are struggling to pray, I encourage you to start by praying, “Lord, teach me to pray.”
Prayer is an important spiritual discipline for all believers.
Whether you are starting in your faith or reaching the end of the race God has set before you, the call to “pray without ceasing” is one to embrace today.
Dedicate yourself to pray. Choose 1-2 of these ideas and take action to incorporate them into your week. Ask fellow believers in your local church what has helped them develop a consistent, strong life of prayer.
Remember, deep within yourself, that prayer isn’t meant to trip you up. It’s not God piling on something to your to-do list, it’s a gift. It is one of the ways He communicates with us and one of the beautiful aspects of the Communion of Saints. As the Body of Christ, we need to enter into this medicinal gift and embrace the strength, joy, and unity that comes from prayer.