Christian TraditionsPrayerRoman CatholicTheology & Spirituality

Five Ways to Pray in Everyday Life

To be completely honest, it is much easier to cultivate a healthy prayer life during the major liturgical seasons than during the most ordinary days of ordinary time. Aside from morning Scripture readings, blessings before meals, and nighttime Our Fathers, most of us do not pray a lot during the day, especially days outside of Lenten fasting and Advent devotionals.

Prayer, however, ought to be central to the everyday life of the Christian, even in the most ordinary days of ordinary time. Saint Paul instructs to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, ASV). Yet he wrote that to Christians who lived nearly 2000 years ago. What about us Christians today?

Karl Rahner, S.J., taught and wrote in the pre- and post-Vatican II era, an era not too far removed from our own. Famously he proclaimed that Christians of the future will either be mystics or not Christians at all. Mysticism, according to Rahner, “is the possibility for humans to encounter God … the possibility of being grasped by this silent mystery, called God, and of perceiving God’s self-communication in direct encounter.”[1] This direct encounter with God comes through the practice of prayer, contemplation, and reflection of the divine.[2] Rahner emphasized how mysticism as a direct encounter with God, achieved particularly through prayer, helps Christians uncover the presence of God in the most quotidian aspects of life. Prayer, then, offers a way for us to encounter God during the midst of our workdays, family life, and weekends. How can we easily incorporate prayer into our everyday life?

Many centuries before Rahner, the first Jesuit, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, stated “Everything that one turns in the direction of God is a prayer.”[3]

Based on the spiritual advice of these theologians, I want to suggest five ways for praying and encountering God in the most ordinary moments of everyday life.

1. Five things of gratitude. Try each day to thank God for five things in your life and tell him why you are thankful. These can be big or little things, and you can repeat from the day before. This prayer of gratitude will increase your awareness of God’s presence and blessing in things as small as sunshine, a hot cup of coffee, or shoes on your feet.

2. Use iconography or religious statues. On my nightstand rests a cross, and in the living room is a decorative plate depicting the Holy Family at the Nativity. Some nights, when I’m just too physically tired or spiritually wearied to go through a laundry list of prayers, I gaze upon the cross and simply contemplate Christ.

3. Direct a thought to God. Saint Therese of Lisieux said, “I say very simply to God what I wish to say, without composing beautiful sentences, and he always understands me.”[4] Throughout the day, when thoughts, worries, stresses, excitements pop into your head, direct them to God. Prayer is as much conversation with God as it is requests. Do not worry about whether your prayer is interesting or beautiful or relevant—to God it is. So direct your thoughts to God on anything—your gratitude for a delicious meal, your frustration at people who do not understand how the traffic circle works, your enjoyment of a certain book. This creates a habit of talking to God throughout your day.

4. Go out into nature. The Psalms praise nature as the handiwork of God. Go out—on a bike ride, a run, a long walk, alone or with others—and just spend time with creation. Even if you aren’t actively praying, time in creation brings us closer to the Creator.

5. Use the prayers of the Church. Why worry about what to say when God has already provided the words to you? As simple as it is, the Our Father encompasses a multitude of petitions when we pour our hearts into the words. Say the Our Father[5] at little time—while out on a run, while cooking dinner, while completing a task a work. This little prayer offers immense power to sanctify your day.


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Laura Norris

Laura Norris

Laura Norris is a Catholic, freelance writer, running coach, and outdoor enthusiast. She holds a master's degree in Theological Studies and now works as a running blogger and coach as, in the words of St. Ignatius Loyola, "a woman for others" in helping others live a healthy life and achieve their goals. She and her husband live on the Eastside of Seattle and spend their time running their own businesses and hiking in the mountains.

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