Faith & Life


Ways to Begin, Develop and Sustain Your Prayer Practice

By Cathi Douglas     2/27/2019

Let’s say you want to strengthen your relationship with God, learn to be in silence with Jesus, and develop a strong prayer life. There are several paths you can choose:  

  • Enlist the guidance of a spiritual adviser.
  • Read books about prayer.
  • Use Catholic apps on your phone.
  • Attend retreats periodically.
  • Begin a daily meditation practice, make daily Mass a habit, and say the Rosary every day.


“So many people equate prayer with saying the Rosary or reciting a litany, but that’s just how prayer begins,” observes Brother Charlie Jackson, S.J., associate director of the Loyola Center for Spirituality in Orange. “There’s a whole world beyond that; it’s not so much about talking, but listening – that’s where real prayer life begins.”  

Is a Spiritual Adviser Right for You? 

When considering a spiritual adviser, keep your needs in mind. Think about how someone could assist you in discerning important issues or challenge you in your walk with God. 

“Seeking Spiritual Direction – How to Grow the Divine Life Within,” a 1984 paperback book authored by Father Thomas Dubay, S.M., explains what spiritual direction is, the qualities to look for, and the process of finding a director.  

The Loyola Institute offers a list of 60-70 spiritual advisers, Br. Jackson notes.  


Read Books on Prayer 

Many books on prayer, Catholic spirituality, and spiritual life are available. Brother Charlie recommends “Prayer: Our Deepest Longing,” a 2013 paperback written by international speaker and author Father Ronald Rolheiser, president of Oblate College of Theology in San Antonio, Texas.  

“It’s a small book but it’s a goldmine that can open you up to prayer.”  

Download Catholic Phone Apps 

Convenient no- or low-cost apps offer prayers, news, confession guides and other ways to develop our spiritual lives. Some are: 

  • Laudate: Resources include an interactive Rosary, daily readings, the Liturgy of the Hours and prayers in English and Latin
  • Catholic Bible App: Reading plans and devotionals to help you engage with God’s word
  • News, documentaries and films, podcasts, talks and audiobooks
  • Confession: To be used in the confessional, it provides an examination of conscience
  • Pray-As-You-Go: Daily ways to help you pray on your commute or whenever you find time


Attend a catholic retreat or special event 

Local retreat centers include the Heart of Jesus Retreat Center in Santa Ana and Santiago Retreat Center in Silverado. Retrouvaille (for struggling couples) and Search (young adult) retreats, as well as men’s and women’s retreats and more, are listed frequently in your parish bulletin. 


Develop new habits: Mass, rosary and meditation 

When I was single, I attended early weekday Mass. I was amazed at how easily I developed the habit and the resulting closeness I felt to God. Saying the Rosary can help you develop a similar closeness to Our Lady.  

Meditation is a valued component of yoga, Tai Chi, and other practices; it can be adapted as prayer.  Being silent in the presence of the Lord for a few moments, perhaps breathing deeply and silently repeating words like ‘Jesus’ or ‘God loves me,” creates peacefulness, joy, and calm in our loud, frenetically paced world.