It’s really easy to say the following: “I need to pray each day” and then do it either very quickly or not at all. Life gets busy and the day gets over-scheduled, the calendar becomes full, activity after activity happens, and the next thing you know, it’s late at night and you’re crashing into bed maybe having said an “Our Father”at some point throughout the day.
Prayer is essential for our souls, though. It’s when we raise our heart to God, lifting ourselves up so that we can share the very depths of our heart. St. Therese of Lisieux called prayer a “surge of the heart” as we simply look to heaven, recognizing the immense love the Lord has for us and how we are called to return that love by sharing our heart.
Prayer should not be an afterthought or something optional, so we must be intentional with it – either writing it into that busy schedule or just making more of a conscious effort to ensure we are taking the time to talk (and listen) to our Lord. A helpful way is to place some traditional prayers into your “prayer time lineup” so to speak. We can make the effort to “pray more” by being very specific with that goal. We can say, “I am going to pray more by saying a decade of the rosary while getting ready for work” or “I will pray the Angelus at noon every day.” Being specific in when, where, and how you will add prayer into your daily routine (and using a written prayer that is familiar and well-known) can only aid us in developing the habit of regular, spontaneous, personal prayer.
Here are five prayers to incorporate into your day and to help you in forming a more intentional routine throughout your week:
1. Morning Offering
Growing up, my Aunt Mimi (a kindly, old Cajun woman) had a copy of this prayer taped to her bathroom mirror. Every time we’d visit her, I’d see it and always wondered why it was so important to her. After I got into the habit of praying it regularly each morning, I slowly began to realize how powerful these simple words are – giving the day to the Lord and offering up all that is to come.
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.
2. The Litany of Humility
I affectionately call this “the prayer that must not be prayed” unless you’re ready for the Holy Spirit to do a number on your life. It’s a call to action within yourself – a prayer that calls out our prideful tendencies and asks the Lord to truly cleanse us of all that is not of Him. Attributed to Cardinal Merry del Val, it is often said after the Mass or when one finds themselves in a position to perhaps become boastful, prideful, or be caught up in a lot of attention.
O Jesus! Meek and humble of heart, Hear Me.
Response: Deliver me, Jesus
From the desire of being esteemed…
From the desire of being extolled…
From the desire of being honored…
From the desire of being praised…
From the desire of being preferred to others…
From the desire of being consulted…
From the desire of being approved…
From the fear of being humiliated…
From the fear of being despised…
From the fear of suffering rebukes…
From the fear of being calumniated…
From the fear of being forgotten…
From the fear of being ridiculed…
From the fear of being wronged…
From the fear of being suspected…
Response: Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it
That others may be loved more than I…
That others may be esteemed more than I…
That in the opinion of the world others may increase and I may decrease…
That others may be chosen and I set aside…
That others may be praised and I unnoticed…
That others may be preferred to me in everything…
That others become holier than I, provided that I become as holy as I should…
3. The Prayer of St. Augustine
With his feast day coming up on August 28, what better way to honor and ask for the intercession of this holy man (whose life reminds us that ever saint has a past and every sinner a future) than by praying words attributed to him?
Lord Jesus, let me know myself and know you,
And desire nothing, save only you.
Let me hate myself and love you.
Let me do everything for the sake of you.
Let me humble myself and exalt you.
Let me think of nothing except you.
Let me die to myself and live in you.
Let me accept whatever happens as from you.
Let me banish self and follow you,
And ever desire to follow you.
Let me fly from myself and take refuge in you,
That I may deserve to be defended by you.
Let me fear for myself, let me fear you,
And let me be among those who are chosen by you.
Let me distrust myself and put my trust tin you.
Let me be willing to obey for the sake of you.
Let me cling to nothing, save only to you,
And let me be poor because of you.
Look upon me, that I may love you.
Call me, that I may see you,
And forever enjoy you.
4. The Memorare
August 15th is the feast of the Assumption of Mary, a holy day whereby we celebrate and remember the Mother of God being assumed body and soul into heaven, to sit beside the throne of her son. In honor of this glorious day where we gain a remarkable intercessor, the Memorare can be added to your prayer routine to help you express great confidence in her holiness and love of us.
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To you I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in your mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
5. The Universal Prayer
I first stumbled upon this prayer while in college. I was given a tattered copy of The Handbook of Prayers and the page for it was marked. It quickly became my “after receiving Holy Communion prayer” because it covered pretty much all the bases of anything I would necessarily say on my own.
Lord, I believe in you; grant me stronger faith. I trust in you; give me a more confident hope. I love you; may I love you more ardently. I am sorry for my sins; may I have a deeper sorrow.
I worship you as my first beginning; I long for you as my last end. I praise you as my constant helper and invoke you as my gracious protector.
Guide me by your wisdom, Correct me with your justice, Comfort me with your kindness, Protect me with your power.
I offer you, Lord, my thoughts, that they may rise to you; My words, that they may speak of you; My actions, that they may follow your will; My sufferings, that they may be borne for you.
I will whatever you will: I will all because you will it; I will all things to be as you wish them; I will them as long as you will them.
Lord, enlighten my understanding, Inflame my will, Purify my heart, And sanctify my soul.
Help me repent of my past sins and put to flight future temptations. Make me conquer my evil inclinations and cultivate the virtues I should have.
Grant that I may love you, O good God, and despise myself.
May I have zeal for my neighbor and contempt for the world. May I strive to obey my superiors and to assist those dependent on me;
Make me solicitous of my friends, And happy to spare my enemies.
Help me to master pleasure-seeking by austerity, Greed by generosity, Anger by gentleness, And apathy by fervor.
Make me prudent in my plans, Courageous in times of danger, Patient in suffering, And unassuming in prosperity.
Keep me, Lord, attentive at prayer, Temperate in food and drink, Diligent in my work, And firm in my good intentions.
Let my inner life be innocent and my outer behavior modest. Let my speech be blameless and my life well-ordered.
May I take care to master my natural impulses; Let me cherish growth in grace. May I keep your law, and come at last to win salvation.
Teach me to realize how slight are earthly things and how great is that which is divine, How swiftly things of time pass, And how enduring are eternal realities.
Help me prepare for death and have a right fear of judgment; May I escape hell and take possession of heaven. Grant this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Even if you only add one of these prayers into your regular routine, or find a time to include one or more of these prayers first thing in the morning or after Communion on Sunday, you may find yourself more focused and willing to keep prayer a priority throughout your day. With tangible, practical steps, you can strengthen your focus on “the surge of the heart,” thus growing ever closer to the Lord.