"Quality" of prayer vs "quantity" of prayer?

Cortés

Woodpecker
Gold Member
I'm currently reading a book "How to be Happy, how to be Holy", essentially explaining the real power and significance of various prayers, and how to pray correctly. I know that the general wisdom is that one prayer with thought, love and faith is worth more than a thousand blindly mouthed prayers.

Ever since I came back to the church about 2 years ago, i have been praying a rosary every night. Some nights I am really into it, feeling gratitude towards God and asking Mary to pray for me. Other nights I am distracted by my thoughts or falling asleep. Even though many nights it may not be the most thoughtful praying, it still feels necessary to push through. The days following where I did not pray the rosary, I feel off and almost disconnected from God. My attitude and thoughts change until I pray the rosary again.

I feel as though delaying sleep when I want to, or trying constantly to focus myself on prayer is an attempt to connect with God even when I am not feeling it as strongly. Making the rosary a habit and an impulse does make me feel a stronger sense of dedication to the faith. Is my thinking flawed? Should I save the rosary only for nights that I feel a strong urge to?

God bless
 

redbeard

Hummingbird
Moderator
Two things here.

First is praying while fatigued. If you're tired, you should still pray. However if you consistently find yourself struggling to pay attention because you're tired, consider changing your prayer routine to be scheduled in the morning instead of the evening. I am very much like you in regard. I still pray at night but I am so much more attentive in the morning that I try to do the majority of my prayer in the morning when I'm tuned in and awake.

Second is should you pray even though you don't feel like it? Again yes. Many books and saints have discussed that dryness in prayer is a constant struggle. However, those days that just you don't feel like it are that much more powerful to God because you're doing it out of obedience and not for selfish reasons.
 

Cortés

Woodpecker
Gold Member
Two things here.

First is praying while fatigued. If you're tired, you should still pray. However if you consistently find yourself struggling to pay attention because you're tired, consider changing your prayer routine to be scheduled in the morning instead of the evening. I am very much like you in regard. I still pray at night but I am so much more attentive in the morning that I try to do the majority of my prayer in the morning when I'm tuned in and awake.

Second is should you pray even though you don't feel like it? Again yes. Many books and saints have discussed that dryness in prayer is a constant struggle. However, those days that just you don't feel like it are that much more powerful to God because you're doing it out of obedience and not for selfish reasons.

Honestly praying during the day is the obvious answer that I overlooked. I guess praying at night before bed was habit just because that's what I've always done, back in CCD as a kid.

No. If you pray only when it is easy, what benefit is it to you?

Praying only when it's easy is like being a kind, thankful person only when other people haven't irritated/offended you.

Perhaps I should have said that it's not a question of zero prayer versus praying a rosary every night. Rather a few shorter prayers when I can keep myself engaged for 5 minutes, and on nights where I feel a strong connection to pray the rosary. You're right that it won't always be easy to pray. I shouldn't cut it short just because it's hard.
 

nagareboshi

Sparrow
The English translation of "Way of a Pilgrim" that I read mentioned something like this: we must always pray in terms of quantity, but God takes that quantity and endows it with gift of grace, by which it becomes quality.

So in other words, man can only control the quantity, and is obliged to do what he can to increase quantity, and it is not up to us whether the prayer will become quality or not. Personally I am sympathetic to this idea.

BTW, context for this passage was when Russian monk and Polish intellectual had a disagreement. The Polish intellectual said that saying one Our Father every day is simply enough because quality is the most important. After the disagreement was resolved, Polish dude decided to make a habit to say Kyrie Eleison in large quantities every day.
 

Lavabis Me

Sparrow
Some nights I am really into it, feeling gratitude towards God and asking Mary to pray for me. Other nights I am distracted by my thoughts or falling asleep. Even though many nights it may not be the most thoughtful praying, it still feels necessary to push through.
The reason why it still feels necessary to push through is because the Holy Spirit has planted that in you.

The Modern world completely misunderstands what love is. Love is first and foremost a duty; it is giving to the beloved what is owed them. As an example:

Getting up at 3am to change your squirming infant's soiled diaper in a semi-dark room for the 3rd time in 2 hours when you have to rise early for work is a daunting task; after some weeks of nights like that you're liable to grumble under your breath and sigh a very heavy sigh. The "miracle of life" adrenaline you had the first month or so has worn off, and the happy-to-do-it whistle-while-you-work attitude is long gone. Now its pure push-through-and-get-it-done-time. Does it matter that you're not gung-ho about it anymore? Should you not change the diaper because you don't feel you're doing it with the proper love in your heart? To the contrary, loving your child is giving to them what they are owed; as a parent, it is your duty.

So it is with all our duties. Our duty to our employers is to give them an honest day's work and not goof off even though no one's watching. Our duty to our family is to provide shelter, food, and a muscular religous atmosphere in the home. And our duty to God is worship Him and have his praise always on our lips and to ask His blessings and graces continually.

Your efforts to push-through-and-get-it-done for the love of God and the duty you feel are commendable. You are shaping your Catholic character, instilling a life-long habit, practicing discipline, and building inner-strength by resisting complacency. Keep at it. Think of it along the lines of a gym workout - do you skip if you're not "feeling" it? Is it really worse to have a less-than-your-best workout than to skip it? Think of all the bad habits you are subduing by developing this good habit.

Someone above wrote: "God responds when you're willing to show up." Amen brother. Do your duty and don't worry about how good it was. Give it your best shot, stay at it, and let God worry about the quality of it.

Pax vobiscum
 

nagareboshi

Sparrow
Getting up at 3am to change your squirming infant's soiled diaper in a semi-dark room for the 3rd time in 2 hours when you have to rise early for work is a daunting task; after some weeks of nights like that you're liable to grumble under your breath and sigh a very heavy sigh. The "miracle of life" adrenaline you had the first month or so has worn off, and the happy-to-do-it whistle-while-you-work attitude is long gone. Now its pure push-through-and-get-it-done-time. Does it matter that you're not gung-ho about it anymore? Should you not change the diaper because you don't feel you're doing it with the proper love in your heart? To the contrary, loving your child is giving to them what they are owed; as a parent, it is your duty.

So it is with all our duties. Our duty to our employers is to give them an honest day's work and not goof off even though no one's watching. Our duty to our family is to provide shelter, food, and a muscular religous atmosphere in the home. And our duty to God is worship Him and have his praise always on our lips and to ask His blessings and graces continually.

I agree with this and have a similar measure for faith. "If you would do it for your parents, your spouse, your children -- then you should do it for God even before"
 
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