We Need To Use Prayer Books

I had an interesting insight tonight while praying with a wonderful group of men and boys that meets at my parish.

As the meeting began we all knelt down to say an opening prayer from their prayer book. Facing the cross, we prayed the “En Ego” prayer. Here is a version I found online:

Look down upon me, good and gentle Jesus,
while before Your face I humbly kneel and,
with burning soul,
pray and beseech You
to fix deep in my heart lively sentiments
of faith, hope, and charity;
true contrition for my sins;
and a firm purpose of amendment.
While I contemplate,
with great love and tender pity,
Your five most precious wounds,
pondering over them within me
and calling to mind the words which David,
Your prophet, said of You, my Jesus:
“They have pierced My hands and My feet,
they have numbered all My bones.”

And it occurred to me: we need to use prayer books. If prayer is merely spontaneous, it is easy — especially for beginners — just to pray for needs and wants (Lord, please give me X, Y, or Z) or perhaps to pray for others (Help so-and-so with such-and-such). Would a group of boys ever learn to ask for faith, hope, and charity in a habitual manner without further guidance? Would they meditate on the Lord’s wounds while considering their need for repentance?

A good prayer book (such as this one) teaches us how to pray and what to pray for, beyond our perceived needs or those of others. Indeed, the faithful use of such prayers can lead us into a deeper personal relationship with Christ. Of course it is not automatic — we can, after all, recite pre-written prayers in a perfunctory way. But when we strive to say the venerable old prayers from the heart, we ask for things we might not have thought to ask for otherwise, and the Lord shapes and guides us in ways we might not have been open to otherwise.

There is wisdom in using a good prayer book on a regular basis. It cannot replace meditation and spontaneous prayer, but it can add a great deal to them. What is your favorite prayer book?

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11 Responses to We Need To Use Prayer Books

  1. thanhlemisa says:

    While I have an extremely vast collection of prayer books in many languages, time and time again, Blessed be God proves to be one of the best and conveniently sized prayer books made in our age!

  2. John says:

    The rosary is the easiest and my daily favorite because I find that I have less drama in my life when I am praying the rosary regularly. The rosary is excellent for helping me stay spiritually fit between the valleys in life. The rosary is like an insurance policy to help me through the occasional times in life when I don’t want to pray.

  3. Liturgy of the Hours, 4-volumes: I have prayed it for years. Also the rosary.

  4. Sr Judith Dianne McGowan says:

    We used to pray this prayer every morning at St Anthony’s School in Bham, Al.! Beautiful prayer.

  5. Bernie says:

    Love this prayer. Said many times but couldn’t remember exactly when. Believe it was during Lent and or after Mass or Communion. Perhaps you could comment further.

    • I’m not sure! Perhaps someone else will remember such a custom and weigh in…

    • Analda Anglin says:

      The prayer that Father Jerabek printed is a “Prayer Before a Crucifix” that is included in several hand missals as well as the back of the St. Michael Hymnal. There is an indulgence associated with the prayer when prayed before a Crucifix after receiving Holy Communion. The details of the indulgence have been printed differently in different places, but what I see most often is that a plenary indulgence is offered on Fridays of Lent and a partial indulgence is offered other times.
      I don’t recall seeing this prayer before this year, but during the past Lenten season it seems like I have seen or heard it all over the place. One priest I know included it with Friday Stations of the Cross.

  6. The Roman Catholic Daily Missal from 1962 🙂 Its morning and evening prayers, Communion prayers, and especially its Stations of the Cross, are perfect examples of the “venerable old prayers” described in your post, all of which unfailingly help guide me into less self-interested, and more God-interested, prayer, so to speak. 😉 Thank you!

  7. Debra says:

    I pray this prayer from a prayer book and prayer card. I find it difficult to pray spontaneously, so prayer book and cards help me to get my thoughts in place and I don’t just pray for wants and others. However a lot a times it is a lot of thank you.

  8. Lori says:

    My personal favorite is the Mother Love prayer book. I especially love the Parents’ Prayer for Their Children and A Mother’s Prayer After Holy Communion.

  9. Donna says:

    I totally agree that we need prayer books Father. It was the Anglican 1928 Book of Common Prayer that helped us fall in love with tradition and liturgy, and eventually, the Catholic Church. Mighty prayers help us decrease that He may increase.

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