Forming a habit of prayer

Forming a Habit of Prayer

“If you find it hard to pray, don’t give up. Be still; make space for God to come in; let Him look at you, and He will fill you with His peace.”

— Pope Francis Twitter message, March 26, 2020

By Christie Smith

Director of Youth Ministry

As a parent of three teenagers and as the director of youth ministry in the diocese, I have always tried to instill in my children and other young people a habit of prayer. Now more than ever, developing a family habit of prayer is exceedingly important.

Many of us are afraid of what the next few weeks will bring. Our children have adjusted or are still adjusting to this hybrid form of cyberschool/homeschooling. Many are unable to express the anxiety they feel during this time. How can we create a habit of prayer in ourselves and in our families to combat these emotions and bring us into a closer relationship with Christ?

First, give yourselves grace. Many times, we do not want to challenge ourselves to pray regularly or more often because we are convinced we will fail, or we do not know the “right words,” or we consider ourselves “just not holy enough.” You are a son or daughter of God, and He is with you. Open yourself to God and know that whatever you pray are the “right words.”

Second, invite your family and yourself to remember a time in your faith life when you felt particularly close to God. How did you pray at that time?  What type of prayer moves you? Do you enjoy spontaneous prayer? Would you rather pray the traditional prayers from your childhood? Do you prefer the rosary or Lectio Divina? Another option is to visit the Diocese of Greensburg social media each day to use simple prayers found there. Your prayer does not have to be fancy. It just needs to be heartfelt.

Third, practice. As a parent, I am a pro at reminding my children to practice their musical instruments or getting them to daily rehearsals for musicals and plays. If you have a child who is in sports or played one of your own as a young person, you are aware of the importance of practicing. This is also true in creating a habit of prayer. The more often you do it, the more it will become a routine.

Fourth, decide on a prayer schedule. Write it down. Make it part of your daily schedule. If you are tech savvy, put a reminder on your phone so you get an alarm when it is time to pray. I like to pray before bed, although that provides its own challenges. I remember once telling my mom that I often fell asleep in the middle of praying the rosary before bed. She replied, “As long as you start, the angels will finish for you.” What a beautiful sentiment and a reminder that whatever you do is enough.

Finally, pray regularly, and as 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us, “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”

Visit to see other creative ways to pray as a family, or visit our social media platforms. There are many ideas online: prayer cubes, paper saints, family prayers, pretzels and their relationship to the Church, and much more.


Christie Smith is also interim director of the Office of Faith, Family and Discipleship.


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