Do you pray too much? I’ve been asking myself that question a lot lately.

I spend close to two hours in prayer each day – sometimes more, sometimes less. I love my prayer time and honestly, my day isn’t the same without it. In fact, I’m not the same without it. On the rare days that I miss my morning prayer time, I’m edgy and moody, have more trouble focusing than usual, and have a sense that something is missing. On the nights that I miss my before-bed prayer time, I don’t sleep as peacefully. I once was told by a wise priest that praying is like breathing. If we don’t breathe, our bodies die. If we don’t pray, our souls die. Plain and simple, I need plenty of prayer time.

But do I pray too much during that time? When I examine how I spend my prayer time, I realize that I spend most of it in rote prayer – the Rosary, Chaplet of Divine Mercy, Chaplet of St. Michael, and so on. But I pray along with audio recordings of those rather than reciting them on my own. I listen to the audio of the Daily Readings and the accompanying audio reflections, too. You get the picture.

Although I definitely benefit from praying this way and know that it’s far better than not praying at all, I wonder how it impacts my relationship with the Lord and his Mother. Am I doing the equivalent of a family sitting in front of the television and watching a movie together? There may be closeness, but there’s little interaction. Have I turned my prayer time into TV time? I wouldn’t go to that extreme, but I do think that I need to reconsider how I spend my prayer time and not how much time I spend praying.

In his first letter to the Thessolonians, St. Paul wrote, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Common sense tells us that St. Paul wasn’t intending for us to remain constantly on our knees, reciting prayer after prayer. We still have to fulfill our daily obligations and sustain our health and livelihood. So, what did St. Paul mean by that? I think that he meant for us to turn everything we do into a prayer, doing it with diligence for the love of Christ and offering it to the Father in sacrificial spirit. In that way, everything we do can be a prayer. In essence, St. Paul is encouraging us to live our entire lives in relationship with the Blessed Trinity.

That leads me back to my original question to myself. Do you pray too much? My answer is yes, and no. I don’t spend too much time praying. I need that time to pause the world, quiet my heart, and prepare for or end my day. It’s not that I spend too much time in general, rather I spend too much time in rote prayer that is passive rather than active. That’s not to say that all rote prayer is passive. The Rosary, Chaplets, and such prayers can be nourishing to the soul. What it means is that I allow too many of my routine prayers to become passive without actively engaging with our Lord and his Mother, the saints, and angels. That must change.

And so I ask you. Do you pray too much?


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