AREWP: Frequently Asked Questions

January 17, 2008 | 5 comments

[AREWP stands for “A Reckless Experiment With Prayer.” This is part of an ongoing series about bringing peace to my daily life. You can read the other posts on this subject here (scroll down).]

I’ve received quite a few questions about this experiment with prayer, so I thought I’d answer them all in one post in case anyone finds it helpful.

What prayer book are you using?

Christian Prayer, the one-volume Liturgy of the Hours, plus the St. Joseph Guide for Christian Prayer pamphlet that came with it. It’s a bit pricey as books go so I asked for it as a birthday present.

How did you decide on that book?

Because quite a few bloggers and Amazon reviewers recommended it highly.

Have you ever heard of the Magnificat?

Yes. I decided to use Christian Prayer because a) I heard that it’s more complete (not 100% sure that that’s correct though), and b) I decided to take a bet that I’ll keep up with it (if I do the prayers for more than a year it’s cheaper to just get the book rather than a Magnificat subscription). But I have seen the Magnificat and it looks great, and I would recommend it.

Do you read the prayers out loud?

Yes. I read that you are supposed to either read them aloud or at least move your lips, so I do.

What do the kids do while you pray?

I pray in the living room with the kids, so the baby bounces on my lap while the toddlers play. I’ve been reserving some special toys that only come out during prayer time, so that usually keeps them amused. At first they seemed to think of prayer time as “limits testing time, ” but they’re starting to fall into the habit of amusing themselves while I pray, and since late last week (when I did the trial run) they’re more used to the routine. When they’re old enough I plan to include them (which will be great, since the Liturgy of the Hours is ideally done with others).

How can you possibly focus?

Between sleep deprivation and general chaos, it’s not always possible for me to deeply concentrate on the prayers (though sometimes it is). I do read all them aloud, which helps, and focus to the best of my ability. Per rule #4, I just try my best and accept that it won’t be perfect.

How long do the prayers take?

Each one takes about 12 minutes, except the Office of Readings, which takes about 15 minutes (my book has abbreviated readings).

How did you learn about the Liturgy of the Hours?

I read a ton of stuff about it, but two resources to highlight are: Getting Started with the Liturgy of the Hours by RNW, and the Discovering Prayer PDF at the Rosary Shop (the PDF is very long, but you’ll find that you only need to focus on a few key sections when you’re getting started).


  1. will

    The prayers in Magnificat are structured like the Morning, Evening, and Night prayers in the Liturgy of the Hours, but are somewhat simpler and shorter, and are different in content, as I discovered when I compared them last weekend. That is to say, the psalms, canticles, readings, intercessions, antiphons, and so forth for a given day in Magnificat are not the psalms, canticles, etc., given for the same day in the LOTH. They have the same flavor, though, and might be easier to start with.

    I also used the Discovering Prayer PDF file you mentioned, when I was getting started with the LOTH this past weekend, and found it very helpful.

  2. Anonymous

    About not concentrating: I have found that sometimes praying without really focusing on the words or consciously thinking the ideas is MORE effective. It’s as if I get past the wordy, thinking, self-absorbed part of my brain into something else.

    I’m not Catholic, but I went to a Catholic elementary school for one year, and that’s where I first experienced this: A classmate’s grandmother was very sick, so my teacher took the class to church to pray for her. We recited “Hail Mary” together over and over again. This was a prayer I’d memorized at the beginning of the year and knew so well I participated in playground contests to see who could say it fastest! I thought those words didn’t mean much to me. But around the fourth time, I began to feel something within me and around us: a special peace and hope, the healing soothing that would help Maria’s grandmother in her slow and painful transition out of this life. It wasn’t about the words, yet without saying those memorized words we would not have accomplished that.

  3. La gallina

    Thanks Jen. I was planning to ask you all these questions but hadn’t had a chance. I am amazed and inspired by your dedication.

  4. Melanie B

    About what the kids do when you pray, it will be interesting to see how that develops over time.

    Bella has changed in her reactions when I say my morning prayers. At first she tended to be really demanding and I bought her some holy cards to play with while I prayed. I found that she’s much easier with it now that I say my prayers as part of my morning routine: get dressed, make the bed, say prayers sitting on the bed. Now she usually drifts in and out of my bedroom and only sometimes demands my attention. Sometimes she even indicates that she expects me to pray after I’ve finished dressing. She also always asks that I bless her at the end of the prayers.

  5. liturgy

    Wonderful, down to earth post on the Liturgy of the Hours.
    This year I’m going to work to make
    a hub of resources for this way of praying.
    Possibly you might link to it as “Liturgy of the Hours”
    Let me know so I acknowledge this and link back.

    Let us pray for each other

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