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Simple ways to be more consistent with daily prayer


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Katie Gillio - published on 02/19/22

No matter how busy you are, you can make prayer a priority if you know how to build that habit.

“How’s your prayer life?” my spiritual director asked.  “Is it well-ordered?” 

“Well, I, um …” I stammered back.  

No, it was not well ordered; it was haphazard and random — and I knew it.  

St. Paul instructs us to “pray without ceasing” (Romans 12:12), and as Christians we’re called to build our relationship with God through prayer. 

I would often make a resolution to pray, but then struggle to be consistent. The algebra lesson that needed to be taught, the crying baby, the call from a friend who needed to talk … they were all important, but their urgency regularly seemed to edge out time for prayer. I was fooled into thinking that I would pray when life was less hectic.

But my conversation with my spiritual director made it clear that I had to find a way to order my prayer life as my life was now. I knew that with my husband and 9 kids and 3 cats and a dog and homeschooling and all the other responsibilities I had, I could not pray for uninterrupted hours.

However, I realized that I could aim for consistency and order. Motivated by a desire to love the Lord better, I resolved to improve. Here are some ways that helped me to build a habit of daily prayer.

Keep track

James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, is an enthusiastic advocate of tracking habits. He points out that people who keep track of their habits are more likely to keep them up than those who do not. 

Having a place to track my prayer is a visual reminder of my progress as I work to pray more consistently. In addition, it serves as a reminder to pray. Habits can be tracked in a specific app on the cell phone, as a note in a “notes” app, or with a little x on a paper calendar. Keeping my checklist on my phone where I can see it easily reminds me to make sure I pray before I read blogs or visit social media sites.  

Keep it simple

One day, I was explaining to a friend that my prayer time had become long and unwieldy because I kept adding devotions — the 7 Sorrows here, a prayer for priests there — and before long, my prayer time took longer than was practical for my station in life. When I asked him, “What to you do?”  My friend simply replied, “I don’t add things.” 


It never occurred to me to say “no,” but sometimes there really is too much of a good thing. There are many devotions that are worthy and good, but when my prayer time stretched longer and longer, I found that I was not able to be consistent. When I jettisoned those devotional practices that I did more out of a sense of guilt than joy, I found I was able to increase consistency and look forward to my time in prayer. 

Keeping my prayer time simple and straightforward and being prudent about making additions to my plan helped me to build consistency.

Tie your prayer to things you already do

Most people have habits that are already established. Some people check the news on their phone upon waking, enjoy a morning cup of coffee, or take a walk in the afternoon. I realized that I could use the habits that already existed and connect my prayer to them. 

A daily walk meant I could pray the Rosary as I enjoyed the frigid New York morning. Making dinner or washing dishes turned out to be the perfect time to listen to the Bible in a Year podcast. 

I also noticed that I usually check my email in the morning, and that each morning I also receive an email that has the daily readings and a short reflection. Once I realized this, I made a rule that before I look at my other email, I can take a few minutes to read the readings of the universal Church and mediate upon them, learn a bit about the saint of the day, and read a short devotional paragraph. 

When I began to pay attention to my current habits, I tied my prayer to one or two of those daily routines to build consistency.

It is true that regular prayer is vital as we seek to grow in our faith and love the Lord better. What I sometimes forget is that consistency will always beat intensity. Writer Anthony Trollope wisely states, “A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labors of a spasmodic Hercules.” 

Habitual daily prayer done in a well-ordered way allowed me to better center my life upon God. My prayer life has been greatly improved since I began to work toward this.  

So next time my spiritual director asks me if my prayer life is well-ordered, I will honestly be able to respond, “Yes. Yes, it is.”

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