How to Do Daily Prayer – Part I

Catholics are required to pray every day under pain of mortal sin. How exactly do we do that, especially in the midst of a busy life?

St. Francis de Sales’ Introduction to the Devout Life could help with establishing good prayer habits as a layman. However it was written before Our Lady of Fatima’s request to pray at least five decades of the Rosary daily, so it can be confusing to figure out what to do.

Given the importance of mental prayer in the spiritual life, it seems clear that mental prayer should be a high priority, but we should not neglect Our Lady’s request. That being said, what should be prioritized – mental prayer in general or the Rosary?

I am not sure how to answer this question, but it seems like the Rosary should be prioritized as it is also mental prayer.

After five decades of the Rosary, what should a person do? Additional mental prayer is a good idea based on what I know. More decades of the Rosary might be sufficient. I would recommend doing all of the decades of the Rosary if there is time anyway since we are supposed to do at least five decades but more is preferable. Furthermore it might be a good idea to incorporate Lectio Divina, a prayer method that involves mental prayer. In addition it is possible to do mental prayer with statues or sacred images. In prayer one could think about truths that are being conveyed by a statue or a sacred image. I am not sure if more decades of the Rosary should take priority over other methods of mental prayer after the initial five decades are done, but whether they should is something worth considering when proceeding with additional mental prayer.

I have heard various recommendations on the amount of time spent on mental prayer, and I refer you to St. Frances de Sales’ Introduction to the Devout Life for a good recommendation. For people who have not yet established a habit of daily mental prayer aside from perhaps the Rosary, it might be best to start with simply making sure to do one more session of mental prayer above five decades of the Rosary every day without any particular minimum time period allotted or, if possible, to pray the additional mental prayer in the same session as the Rosary. The amount of time spent in mental prayer might end up easily taking five minutes or more without a minimum time period, but not having a minimum time might make this goal easier to meet for people with busy schedules.

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