Persevering in Prayer

One of the hardest things to do in the interior life is to persevere: to keep going, to keep praying every day, especially when, for some reason, we miss a day.  It's only natural.  If you're learning to play an instrument, and you don't practice, you don't want to face your instructor; and if you continue not to practice, you'll soon not be taking lessons.But the fact is, you're sometimes going to miss a day.  Sometimes you'll just not feel like it, and you'll go with that; other times yo … [Read more...]

Listen: Hearing God’s Voice

Usually in this series I've talked about things that have worked for me; today I'm going to talk about something that I wish worked better for me.My spiritual director told me of a man—I think he was a Benedictine, but I really don't remember—who spent an hour with God every morning. Sometimes he talked to God for five minutes, and listened to God for fifty-five minutes; other days he talked for fifty-five minutes and listened for five. It depended on how much he had to say. But that last … [Read more...]

Divine Office, Part III: Fruit for Meditation

The Rosary is not just a prayer, it's a meditation on the life of Christ. Similarly, the Liturgy of the Hours is not just a set of prayers; it is also fruit for meditation.First, (as I seem to keep saying) the Divine Office is based around the Psalms. I hadn't really gotten to know the Psalms all that well before I started praying the Office; they are poetry (which is usually not to my taste) (which is a sad commentary on my taste), and poetry needs to be lived with. The Psalms speak of … [Read more...]

Bootstrapping the Interior Life: Divine Office, Part II

Last week, I began talking about the Divine Office as a daily devotion. Today I want to go into some specifics.Each day, the Divine Office consists of a number of distinct sets of prayers, the Hours. I usually pray three of them. I begin my day with Morning Prayer, also known as Lauds. After work, or sometimes after the kids go to bed, I will pray Evening Prayer, also known as Vespers. And just before going to bed, I will pray Night Prayer, also known as Compline.The intriguing … [Read more...]

Bootstrapping the Interior Life: Divine Office, Part I

A few days ago I talked about the value of regular devotions to the interior life; and yesterday I talked about the Rosary. Today I'm going to talk about the Liturgy of the Hours, also known as the Divine Office.The Divine Office is a set of prayers based around the Psalms. It is called the Hours because there are different prayers for different times of the day, and if you read the kind of fiction I do you'll recognize the older names for some of the hours: Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, … [Read more...]

Bootstrapping the Interior Life: Devotions

Last time I talked about how spontaneity fails, at least for me, as an approach to daily prayer. So what's the alternative? If I'm not going to sit down and simply pray from my heart at the stated time, what am I going to do instead?The answer is to cultivate a devotion: that is, a prayer that is meant to be said daily. Low-church Protestants sometimes have trouble with this kind of prayer; it smacks of "vain repetition". But as I pointed out, trying to pray spontaneously every day led … [Read more...]