by Rev. Albert Rung



As with every other practice, so also with prayer, it is necessary to obtain the habit of it.  To gain the habit of prayer, it is necessary to pray regularly each day.  Only the constant repetition of the same act will form a habit, only the repeated practice of prayer each day will establish a habit of prayer.  The law of God requires us to honor God, which is done principally by prayer.  The Catholic moralist deduces from this fact, that to omit prayer for any length of time is sinful.  The Church, acting on this principle, urges and seeks to accustom her children to pray each morning and night.  She knows very well that no one will pray regularly, unless in the habit of praying at fixed times.  Hence, her insistence on morning and night prayers.  This reason, too, accounts for the stress laid upon the importance of morning and night prayer in the training of Catholic youth.  If not acquired in youth, the habit is seldom gained later.

Aside from establishing regularity, there are many other reasons for morning and night prayer.  For instance, in the morning we ought to implore God's protection for the day.  Our lives are so precarious that we know not in the morning whether we shall be alive at night.  Again, we need to ask for strength against the temptations which assail us each day.  We ought to offer to God each morning the day's trials, toils, hardships and sorrows, so as to make them meritorious for heaven.  Then at night, prayer places a good finish to the day.  We may then thank God for all He has done for us during the day.  We ask His pardon for our many shortcomings and perhaps sins committed that day, we ask for protection during the night, both for body and soul.  The fact that one day will be our last, and perhaps a day we least expect, emphases the importance of the habit of praying regularly, morning and night, for every man desires at least this remote preparation for death of having prayed on the morning of the day on which he dies, or in the evening of the night in which he dies.  The object of morning and night prayer gives a clue to what they should consist of.  The shortest morning prayer ought surely not be less than an Our Father, Hail Mary, and a morning offering of the day to God.  The latter may be simply made by saying: "My Lord and my God, all for Thy honor and glory"; or the longer, but beautiful, formula used by the members of the League of the Sacred Heart, may be easily learned and used: "O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer Thee my prayers, works and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of Thy Sacred Heart, in ;union with the holy sacrifice of the mass throughout the whole world, n reparation for my sins and for the intentions of the apostleship of Prayer.  Amen."  Incredible as it may seen, it takes but one minute to say these prayers.  By taking one's watch in hand and repeating the prayers, it will be seen that this statement is no exaggeration.  Who may then say he has not a minute in the morning for God, especially when he recalls hat it is God who gives him the whole new day?  Pleading the need of hurry, some say their morning prayer at their work or on the way to work.  To do so is better than not to say any morning prayer at all, but in face of the fact that it takes but a minute to say it on one's knees, it seems hardly proper to defer saying at least a short morning prayer until at work or on the way to work.  Besides this postponement often causes one to forget, or to put it off every day until at work or on the way to work, which would be  fault, for this prayer ought ordinarily be said kneeling, and the first thing after arising and dressing; our reverence and love for God prompt such action.

Morning prayer is neglected not so much because the Catholic begrudges God the time and the honor, but rather because the obligation is forgotten.  It ought, therefore, be as much a matter of habit as washing oneself or combing the hair in the morning and as little forgotten.  Why this emphasis on morning prayer?  Because it is most often neglected; many who rarely miss night prayer regularly miss the morning prayer.  The danger is that sooner or later they may become negligent of all prayer.  And those who neglect prayer will surely fall into sin, even grievous sin.  "Believe me, my dear friends," says Father de Ravignan, S.J., "believe an experience ripened by thirty years in the sacred ministry, when I do thee affirm, all deceptions, all spiritual deficiencies, all miseries, all falls, all faults, and even the most serious wanderings out of the right path, all proceed from this single source - a want of constancy in prayer."  And the first step to this inconstancy is the neglect of morning prayer.  Remember, a short morning prayer takes but a moment.

To give to God only one moment's prayer in the morning will not content devout and pious Catholics; they will take time to say more.  They will add to those already mentioned the acts of Faith, Hope and Charity, some special prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary for the grace of purity and some short prayer to St. Joseph, to their patron saint and the Guardian Angel, and, if time permits, also add the litany of the Holy Name and the Angelus.  However, what seems essential for a morning prayer is what was first suggested: the Our Father, Hail Mary, Apostles' Creed and the Morning offering; as to saying the other prayers, that rests upon the individual's piety, time and circumstances.