How to Fit Regular Prayer into Your Busy Life: It’s Not What You Think

For most of my adulthood, my prayer life has consisted of Mass on Sunday, various random calls on God on the saints as necessary throughout the day, and petitions in bed at night–if I did not fall asleep first.  I would marvel at folks who attended Mass daily, or said the rosary regularly, or woke up early for quiet time with God.  How on earth did they find the time?

Over the past few years I have experienced a real longing for holiness, a desire to spend more intentional time in prayer.  And I’ve had some limited success, with help from prayer journaling, a schedule that facilitated weekday Mass attendance, and even Facebook!  A schedule change this year, though, meant I had no reason to leave the house until afternoon.  And without that little boost, and with always so much work to do at home, I just haven’t been able to make myself go to morning Mass even though I really enjoyed it.

Every article about having a regular prayer life says to schedule time with God:  have a prayer appointment at the same time each day.  So I tried.  First I got up earlier in the morning to pray, but fell asleep in my chair the first few mornings and started hitting the snooze button instead.  I tried praying every night before bed (not IN bed!), and I fell asleep then too.  I considered scheduling prayer time mid-morning once I was good and awake, but I just couldn’t make myself go back upstairs (where my prayer space is located) once I had already gotten involved in my work.

As I type all that it sounds pathetic, but I am just being honest!  And this post does have a happy ending (at least for now!).  Here’s what I did:

  • I let go of last year’s schedule.  Just because I had a great thing going last year doesn’t mean it works this year, and that is okay.  Next school year will be different and maybe morning Mass will work for me again.
  • I made a commitment to FIT PRAYER IN.  I chose certain practices, and promised myself I would do them every day, but not necessarily on a particular schedule or at the same time every day.
  • I found tools to make regular prayer as easy as possible.  You can read about them here.
  • I found accountability partners.  Right now I’m participating in the 33 Days of Merciful Love challenge with Catholic Fit Moms for Life.  Regular prayer is one of my goals for the challenge, and the challenge itself includes spiritual reading and journaling.  I am registered for the Pray More Advent Retreat, which will overlap just a bit and then take me all the way to Christmas.

So what does this look like right now?  Once I’m alone in the house, I will usually do my journaling for the 33 Days challenge.  Then I will work for awhile before taking a break to say what I think of as my morning prayers, which I have saved on my phone so I don’t even have to leave my desk.  I listen to Pray As You Go in the car on the way to pick up the kids.  After dinner, when I used to sit on the porch and read, I now retire to my prayer space and do my reading for the challenge and use Hallow to meditate.  And I still say those bedtime prayers.  And if I don’t get to do all those things on a given day, I don’t feel worried or guilty, I just resume on the following day.

And you know what? By my prioritizing fitting prayer in somewhere, somehow, rather than attempting to schedule it, a schedule more or less naturally fell into place on its own!

So if you are a busy person who wants to pray more, and a prayer schedule hasn’t worked for you, try just committing to fitting it in and see how that works for you!

Five Apps to Help Busy Catholics Pray

If you are busy like I am (and who isn’t busy these days), daily dedicated prayer time may seem out of reach.  And yet we NEED daily prayer to help us cope with our overwhelming, stressful, too-busy lives.  As Saint Francis de Sales famously said, “Every one of us needs half an hour of prayer a day, except when we are busy – then we need an hour.”

For the past year or so I have struggled to develop a prayer routine that works for me.  I tried getting up earlier in the morning, which I know works well for many people; but I often fell asleep while trying to pray, or hit the snooze button instead of getting up.  The spirit may be willing but the flesh is indeed weak.

I tried other times of day too, but my schedule is unpredictable, and nothing seemed to stick for long.  Even my twice-weekly Mass and rosary walk that I kept up for an entire school year became a thing of the past once I no longer had a child in school right across the street from the church.

I realized that the best way for me to work prayer into my daily schedule was NOT to assign a definite time and place to it, but rather to make sure I fit it in any way I can.  I found some apps that are helping me do that and I wanted to share them with you.

MARY APP

You may be familiar with the practice of Marian Consecration.  I recently completed Father Michael Gaitley’s 33 Days to Morning Glory program for the second time.  I wanted to pray a short consecration prayer every morning, and I keep this app open to the one I want to say.

PRAYER 2000+

This is the ultimate prayer app with just about every Catholic prayer you can imagine.  What I love about it is that you can make a favorites list and then put it in the order you want.  Here I have the next three prayers I want to say each day, and I will probably add more over time.  For now, I say the Morning Offering, the Litany of Humility, and the Prayer for Generosity.

HOLY ROSARY

There are many rosary apps available, of course.  And ideally I’d rather use an actual rosary anyway.  But I can play this one and pray along while my hands are busy doing other things.  I like that this one automatically opens up to the proper mysteries for the day, and I like that I can increase the replay speed a bit.

PRAY AS YOU GO

I have actually been using this for over a year.  I start it as I pull out of the driveway to pick up my kids from school, and it is just about the perfect length for the ten-minute drive.  This is a daily session based on Ignatian spirituality including music, scripture, reflection, and prayer.

HALLOW

This is a Catholic meditation app, and introduces you to different types of prayer, like Lectio Divina or the Examen.  I use this in the evening after dinner when I typically sit out on the front porch for some alone time.  I love that you can choose five, ten, or fifteen minute guided mediation and prayer sessions.

With the help of these apps, I find I am able to meet my prayer goals most days.  All told, I am consistently praying over 30 minutes a day now and I feel hopeful that I will be able to add more over time and will be able to continue this routine.

Have you used these apps? Do you have any other favorite prayer apps?

Five Apps to Help Busy Catholics Pray