I’m not what most people would call holy, but I do hope to become so. I’ll need a lot of grace and prayers for it to happen. We’re all essentially lazy. Well, some of us are. Okay, I am, at least. I’m lazy. And I know it. So, I like to look for short cuts, easier ways. I like to figure out how to get the most bang for my buck (spiritually speaking); to make the system to work for me!
The intercessory prayers of others is crucial in this endeavor. Why would I place the job of sanctification on my own lousy shoulders? Wouldn’t that be the heresy of Jansenism? So far, so good. Got out of that one! And, if I just pray a lot myself, well, that’s like burying my small savings rather than putting it somewhere to gain interest, right? I have it on good authority (Matt 25:14 – 30) that this would be foolish. So, I aim to maximize the effectiveness of my prayers all I can. I have wangled a few ways to do this and I’ll share some of them with you in case you’re as lazy as I am!
1. Pray a Morning Offering.
First thing in the morning, or whenever you think of it, pray one of the many Morning Offering prayers (here’s the one I happen to like). You’re basically offering all your prayers, works, joys and sufferings of that day for Our Lord’s purposes, so everything you do or is done to you is a prayer!!! That’s like one of those matching gifts some companies make when you give a donation. From the moment you pray this, it’s double prayer points!!!
2. Ask others to pray for your intentions.
You can ask as many people as you want! You can ask friends, strangers, prayer groups, priests, a convent full of religious sisters! Ask anyone you think might pray. And with today’s social media, this has never been easier!! You can ask hundreds of people at once on Facebook! If they are particularly sympathetic to your intentions, they may even ask hundreds of their Facebook Friends to pray for you! Not only that—think of this: God loves to hear our prayers. So, the more people you ask to pray for your intentions, the more people are praying. Through one small prayer request, you could be responsible for getting hundreds of people saying prayers they otherwise wouldn’t have said! There’s got to be a bonus in that, right?
3. Ask for the intercession of that “cloud of witnesses” mentioned in Hebrews 12:1.
These would be those who are already sanctified—the Saints. They are standing before the throne of God eternally loving Him and being loved, but, since they are technically outside of time, it’s not going to inconvenience them any to put in a good word for you, too. If you’re someone who happens to follow the traditions of one of the newer Christian sects (i.e. those that developed after 1517), please refer to this site to understand this constant practise of all Christians until recent times, as I’m in the line of entertainment, rather than apologetics. Again, When you ask someone holy to pray for your intentions, you increase your prayer exponentially!
4. Get to know your Guardian Angel.
In addition to all the saints in heaven and holy (and not so holy yet) people on earth, you really need to put your Guardian Angel to work. Now, I don’t mean you should live more dangerously. I mean you need to know that you have an angel assigned just to you since the moment your existence began, who is there to help you get to heaven! Obviously this angel is praying for you already. Why not put it on the specific jobs you have in mind! Send it on errands. I ask mine to meet up with the angel of someone I’m trying to find in a large crowded place to help us find each other. Are you about to have a confrontation with someone or need to negotiate a difficult situation? Send your angel ahead to meet with that of the other person to smooth the way to a peaceful conversation and solution! I have always heard when you fall asleep praying the Rosary, your angel will finish it for you! (I find this comforting, but I hesitate to plan to do it that way and count it as actually praying the Rosary). Ask your angel to pray for your needs while you’re sleeping. There’s eight hours of prayer gained right there!
5. Join other people’s Novenas.
I used to be pretty good at praying novenas (nine days of prayer for an intention), but lately, I can’t seem to remember beyond the first couple of days. I love the novenas that lead up to a special saint’s day. The best thing about them in this era of social media is that friends post them on Facebook with an invitation to join in. Knowing that my intention to join in usually lacks the perseverance necessary to make it to the end, I have found it helpful to safeguard my intentions by asking the friend who is obviously planning to pray the novena to also remember my intentions! I still try to pray it, but this is a good back-up.
6. Make your request stand out.
When applying for a job, it is suggested that you make your resume stand out among all the others. When I come across a friend going off to Mass or to pray at the adoration chapel, I always ask them to pray for me. I want to ensure that I’m not just lumped into that “and all the people who asked me to pray for them” group. I suspect it’s better when one is prayed for specifically. So, I make my request specific in order for it to stand out. Me: “Pray for me while you’re there!” Them: “Okay!” Me: “By name!”
7. Remember the souls in Purgatory.
Don’t just remember them; pray for them! Did you know that they’re counting on us to help complete their purgation? We already pray for them at Mass. Many pray for them at grace before meals. And that’s not all you can do! Pray for departed loved ones whenever you think of them. Pray for them when you pass a cemetery. Since Protestants have rejected the ancient practise of praying for the dead, we may be the only ones praying for their deceased relatives!! They are going to be really grateful to us when they are admitted through those pearly gates. See how my frend, Carol, is utilizing this feature to become really popular in heaven! And, did you know that they’ll then be praying for us?? You see where I’m going with this by now. So, the small investment we put into effective prayers for the people in purgatory yields an eternal cornucopia of saintly prayers! That’s what I call a good return on investment! So here’s my hack (remember, I’m pretty lazy). I like to pray one Hail Mary for that soul that needs only one Hail Mary to be released from Purgatory. That’s what I call economy! A more generous, but less immediately effective, trick is to pray for those people I would have hated if I had known them in life. They were probably rather unlovable and not many people want to pray for them, so, they’re going to love me! And, since I never knew them, it’s not even very hard to do! Cha-ching!
8. Bundle devotions.
Say you’re going to pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary. Did you notice that the last two mysteries (Jesus carries His cross and Jesus is crucified) are basically the Stations of the Cross? Well, I did. So, why not meditate on one station for each of the Hail Marys? You’ll need to add a few more meditations to make it work out. You could throw in some of the Seven Last Words or any aspect that really helps your meditation. Voila! Two prayers in one!! You can even go one step further. Let’s say you want to pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet. Simply meditate on the Sorrowful Mysteries – using the Stations of the Cross for the final two mysteries as above. Triple Word Score!! You win!
9. The piece de resistance of prayer hacks.
Pray for God’s will
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Call it cheating—or call it efficiency. I’m working to put my fault of laziness to work for the Church Militant, the Church Suffering and the Church Triumphant! And I’m not going to do it alone!
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I’m a Catholic homeschooling mom of two, who supports Distributism (thinking small and local with regard to economics), universality (with regard to respect for the dignity of the human person), humor (with regard to humor), integrity (with regard to what we should strive for).
I’m from Southern California and am now living in The South with my husband (a writer) and two kids—and an unspecified number of chickens! I do many things badly because that’s often the best I can manage. Ever heard G.K. Chesterton’s quip? “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.”
Susannah has a MA in Theology from Franciscan University in Steubenville and blogs at: Slow Going.