How do I start and keep a rule of prayer?
I returned to the faith as an adult, while I am pretty constant in my church attendance I keep failing in my personal life, especially where prayer is concerned. It seems like I am forever starting a daily prayer routine only to stop a few weeks down the line. How do I go about creating and maintaining a sustainable rule of prayer?
Response From: Fr. Jim
Thank you for your question. Prayer like everything else in life that is worthwhile requires effort and discipline. We are often so busy with work, family, and other obligations, that there never seems to be enough time to fit it all in our day. It is important not to give up, but to realize that our time and energy are precious and are not infinite. We are confined by them, so we need to evaluate our priorities and establish a routine that includes ample time for prayer, reflection, and reconnecting with our Lord.
A good place to start is by reading the Catechism of the Ukrainian Catholic Church – Christ Our Pascha on page 217 IV. The Personal Prayer of the Christian. This section offers an in-depth scriptural exploration of our need for prayer and the different types of prayer that we can engage in. When one has a deeper understanding of the power of prayer in our lives it is easier to develop and follow a rule of prayer in our lives.
In developing a Rule of Prayer, we should look at page 228, Article 700 of the Catechism:
The Church guides us on our path of prayer and proposes that we rely on her accumulated experience of prayer. This experience indicates that we need to set aside designated times to speak to God. As a minimum, this would be twice a day in the morning and in the evening. Appropriate prayers for the morning and evening are found in every prayerbook along with other prayers that accompany the believer through various situations he or she encounters during the day. Prayer is our main rule of life. As we prayer more often, we progressively bring prayer closer to our daily affairs until prayer becomes one of our main daily activities and all other endeavors are filled with the spirit of prayer…
Daily prayers are given in the Catechism on pages 309-312. These would be a good starting point. As you progress in your rule of prayer, you may wish to enter more deeply into communion with God. The prayer par excellence for this in our tradition is the Jesus Prayer. It is described in paragraphs 693 and 694 of the Catechism. In any case, it is best to have a spiritual mentor who knows you and is able to guide you in your discipline.
At times it will be difficult to keep our prayer rule or routine, but the main thing is that we do not stop trying to pray throughout the day, whether it is formal prayers on our knees before an icon, or informal prayers as we drive or work, all is for the Glory of God.
God Bless You!