Previous: Use the Stimulus of everyday experiences to turn more frequently to God

34) Start the day with early morning prayer

It is obvious that if a man desires to spend the most possible time with a person during his day, the earlier he starts, the more possible time he can spend with the other person.

The same is true with God: if a man desires to spend more and more of his day listening and speaking to God, the earlier he starts in his day the more time he will have to spend with God. Staying in the Presence more frequently, starts with beginning in the Presence of God (CCC 2157).

The practice of early morning prayer, including drawing into the Presence of God before rising from bed with a short Morning Offering and then spending some time in prayer before embarking on the day, is a necessary way to not get off track. Preparing for the Spiritual Combat before entering the thick of the Spiritual Combat by spending time with God early, helps a man start off on the right foot with many graces. And it helps a man get an early start of being in the Presence of God.

Start every day in your first waking moments with prayers to God before rising from bed.

35) Make a morning resolution to listen and speak with God during the coming day

A time-tested way for a man to make actual progress on the path to Heaven is to make a morning resolution. The morning resolution consists of picking one concrete thing a man will do to battle against vice and grow in virtue during the day. Resolving to listen and speak to God during the upcoming day is a powerful help in the battle to remain in the presence of God. St. Alphonsus Ligouri reveals the power of a man’s morning prayer to remain in the presence of God throughout the day: “One fervent act of love made thus in the morning is sufficient to maintain the soul in fervor throughout the whole day.”

In making a morning resolution, a man should take it quite seriously, pondering what he is committing to and how he will carry it out, for his salvation to some degree will depend on his success. A man might not always achieve his resolution, but failing to attempt to keep a solemn resolution made before God is worse than attempting and failing.

Make a morning resolution to listen and speak to God during the day needs to have specific commitments about when a man will keep his resolution. The specific commitments can take several forms: setting prayer appointments with God on your schedule; committing to pray when temptation arises; praying when dealing with difficult people; committing to evening prayer, etc. 

36) Seek the intercession of The Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph and all the saints and angels

Every Catholic man that desires to draw closer to God and to more frequently hear His voice and speak to Him, can be greatly helped by the intercession of the Saints (CCC 956) for they reside in the presence of God and offer great help to faithful Catholic men (CCC 956). When we draw closer to the saints and angels, we draw closer to God.

The Blessed Virgin Mary is of special help, for she is wholly united with her Son (CCC 964) and continues to intercede to those who come to her (CCC 969). St. Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, is the patron saint of fathers and intercedes for them. Patron saints (CCC 2156) and guardian angels (CCC 336) are also powerful intercessors on behalf of men. 

Set aside some time each day to seek the intercession of the Blessed Mother, St. Joseph, your patron saint and Guardian Angel, asking for their prayers so you can more frequently hear and speak to God throughout the day.

37) Commit to some type of Mortification every day

To listen and speak to God more frequently throughout the day, a man must move out of the world and deny his desires for the sake of drawing closer to God.  Jesus confirms men cannot serve God and mammon (Mt 6:24), men must deny themselves and pick up their cross (Lk 14:27) and that through mortification (Literally, “put to death”) for the sake of Christ, men will be drawn to Christ and saved (Mt 16:25).

Paul finds the blessings of mortification by giving up all things to be united with Christ (Phil 3:7-8).

Mortification is a man’s decision to deny his desires for the sake of God and by this he is drawn closer to God and better able to listen and speak to God. Mortification expresses a man’s sorrow for sin and desire for God and God responds. Through mortification a man battles temptation, sin and vice and grows in various essential virtues (faith, charity, temperance, self-control, fortitude).

There are many types of mortification which a man practice including physical mortification (fasting and other voluntary physical discomforts, abstinence, celibacy, physical exercise) and mental mortification (Abstain from entertainment/media or other licit enjoyable activities) acts of charity (almsgiving, Corporal Works of Mercy).

To listen and speak more frequently to God, choose to perform some act of mortification each day with the intention of seeking to draw closer to God.

38) Schedule specific daily appointments to pray

Since modern life can seem very busy with packed agendas and many scheduled events, it can be very helpful to use a man’s existing “time-management” tools and appointment calendars to set appointments with God. Brother Lawrence suggests, “We should set aside some time every day to think of God, as much as possible, so as to accustom ourselves to His holy presence.”

In addition to times the Church has suggested as powerful times of prayer (Divine Mercy Chaplet (3 pm); the Angelus (6 am and 6 pm); the Liturgy of the Hours (CCC 1174-1178), etc.), a man can schedule time to speak and listen to God when it fits his schedule; rest assured, whenever a man commits time to meet with God, God will fit him in. 

39) Stop and deliberately listen to better hear God during the day

To better hear God’s voice, a man must deliberately seek to listen to Him.

Stop talking and choose to listen – A conversation is not a single person talking only to himself but a discussion between two people. After you have had your chance to speak your heart to God, give God the chance to give His Sacred Heart to you.

Deliberately ask for God to speak – Because God responds to prayer, specifically ask God to speak to you and ask Him for the grace for you to be able to listen and understand what He wants to say to you. Use your own words or consider Samuel’s response to God: “Speak Lord, for your servant hears” (1 Sam 3:10).

Patiently listen for and to God’s response – As in any conversation, there are pauses and a man must become comfortable with silences during his conversations with God. Fight the temptation to continue speaking, allow your mind wander or anticipate God’s answer if you can’t immediately hear God’s response. Simply dwell in the presence of God and wait patiently to hear the still small voice of God (1 Kings 19:12).  St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) counsels, “God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer.”

Build a daily habit of reminding yourself to simply stop and listen to God.

40) Pray before beginning a day’s work

The Church encourages men to seek to sanctify (that is, to make holy) every aspect of their lives and a major portion of a man’s life is spent in the vocation to which God has called him: Men are called to sanctify their work (CCC 901, 2427, 2460).  Proverbs 16:3 reminds, “Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established.”

St. Alphonsus Liguori says this: “Whenever you are going to begin some external occupation, like study or work, or the duty of your state in life, do not forget to offer it to God, praying His assistance to enable you to perform it well.”

Build a practice to turn to God to ask for His blessings and guidance as you begin your work of the day, using your own words or prayers such as a Catholic “Prayer before a Day’s Work.”

41) Pray the daily Gospel from the Mass

The Holy Catholic Church, inspired by God, has an annual calendar with specific readings for the Mass for every day of the Liturgical year.

If you are unable to attend daily Mass, take some time to be drawn into the presence of God while meditating upon the daily readings from the Mass, particularly the daily Gospel reading, for there you can meet and converse with Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

42) Explore and pray from the rich treasury of Catholic Prayer

A powerful source of speaking and listening to God is the rich treasury of Catholic prayer. Over the centuries the Church has developed a vast set of prayers which can be prayed in private or in public which include the Rosary, Litanies, Novenas, Devotional Prayers (Divine Mercy Chaplet, prayers for the Souls in Purgatory, St. Michael Prayer, etc.), the Angelus, prayers before and after receiving the Sacraments of Penance or the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Many compendiums of these powerful prayers exist, in written books, online and Catholic apps.

A Catholic man can increase the frequency and expand his conversations with God by speaking the words of these written prayers, reciting them from prayer books.

Consider making a commitment to begin to have a regular habit of praying traditional Catholic prayers to speak and listen to God more frequently throughout the day.

43) Make gestures to remember and remind you of God

During the Incarnation, Jesus took on physical flesh and was taught by St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary the rituals of the Jewish faith. Man is born and experiences life in the physical, mental, and spiritual.  The Church recognizes that worship must engage the whole man and the Liturgy and practice of the Catholicism draws heavily on incorporating the physical, mental, and spiritual.

The physical behaviors which are incorporated into the Mass (Sign of the Cross, genuflecting, kneeling, standing to pray) can be also used outside of the Mass to help a man immediately demonstrate acknowledge and reverser God outside of the Mass. St. Alphonsus Liguori counsels, “That every time you make a certain sign, such as placing your hand upon your heart, or raising your eyes to heaven or to the crucifix, or the like, you intend thereby to make an act of love, of desire to see God loved by all, of oblation of yourself, and other acts of the same kind.”

Incorporate physical gestures into your day at certain times and events to help you recall the reverence of the Mass and help you listen and speak to God.

44) Carry and pray with a small prayer book during the day

A long tradition used to remember to pray and to grow in prayer is to carry physical prayer book; today, various apps are available on mobile phones.

Select a prayer book/app which appeals to you, carry it with you and develop a practice of opening it and praying.

45) Schedule and pray a Rosary

Most Catholic men know of the beautiful tradition of praying the Rosary, but far fewer have a regular practice praying the Rosary. St. Francis de Sales proposes, “The greatest method of praying is to pray the Rosary.”

The Rosary is a powerful way for a man to be drawn into the presence of God. St. Alphonsus Liguori counsels, “In meditating on the Mysteries, go not only over the scenes of the life of Christ but enter into them.”

Scheduling a regular time to pray the Rosary is a simple and powerful traditional way to spend more time with God in prayer and to hear His voice.

46) Pray before and after meals

In modern views, one of the best ways to build new habits is the “habit-stack”; this is simple adding a positive behavior a man wants to build to some activity he is already doing.

One of the easiest ways to start to listen and speak to God more for most men is to simply commit to always pray before and after eating a meal. The Church urges men to pray not only before meals, but after meals too (CCC 2698).

A man can take this further and commit to lift his mind to God and making the Sign of the Cross before eating or drinking anything during the day and afterwards. This simple practice can significantly increase the times when a man speaks and listens to God during the day. 

47) Set daily time to lead your family in prayer

Catholic husbands and fathers are called to be the heads of their households (Eph 5:23; Col 3:18-19; 1 Cor 11:3) and to imitate the spiritual and sacrificial headship of St. Joseph. Because the father has great impact on the faith lives of his children, a Catholic father must model the faith leading his family in prayer.

A man can personally spend more time listening and speaking to God by setting aside time each day to pray with his wife and children. There are many ways to do for a man to lead his family in prayer, including praying before and after each meal, praying a family Rosary, blessing each child each day (Num 6:24-26), offering prayers of gratitude, praise, and petition, and praying with his wife and children at bedtime.

Consider beginning a practice to lead the family in prayer, in addition to mealtime, at least one additional time per day.

48) Speak and listen to God during routine everyday tasks

Brother Lawrence reveals that a man can aspire to speak and listen to God even when doing everyday tasks: “The time of business does not differ with me from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen…I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the Blessed Sacrament.”

Every man has everyday routine tasks which are not intellectually demanding during which he can, instead of daydreaming, focus his attention on speaking and listening to God. For example, commuting to work, waiting for an appointment, while exercising, etc.

Experiment with having a conversation with God during “down times” of routine tasks.

49) Do regular “debriefs” with God

Just as many men must report into their superiors in their work, give updates and receive feedback, so too can a man practice the same kind of daily debriefs with God. St. Alphonsus Liguori counsels. “God is pleased when you speak to Him without reserve. Tell Him of your business, your plans, your griefs, your fears—of all that concerns you.”

Simple set aside some time daily or weekly to check in with God to do a “debrief”. Enter His Presence and tell Him in your own words how your day is going, including the good and the not so good. And then simply ask God for “feedback” and listen.  St. Augustine suggests God will provide the feedback you need: “Turn your attention to God, so that you may know how to manage your own business.”

50) Make regular use of Holy Water and other Sacramentals

Sacramentals are sacred signs from the Church to help men recognize the presence of God and can prepare men to “receive grace and be disposed to cooperate with it” (CCC 1670).

Holy Water, like all sacramentals, can be effective in “…driving way evil spirits” (CCC 1670) protecting a man against the attacks of Satan and reminds a man of his baptism (CCC 1668). A man can use Holy Water as means of sanctification for himself or others.

Consider blessing yourself (and others) and places of work and relaxation (including your home by a priest) to remember God and the need to listen and speak to Him frequently.

51) Perform a daily Examination of Conscience

Like all prayer to God during the day, following through with an Examination of Conscience is a prayer. The Examine has great power for it returns a man to the commitments he has made to God through his vows and responsibilities of being a Catholic man, the sins which he has committed and any special resolutions he has made during the day.  Heed the words of St. Francis de Sales: “Every evening, examine your conscience as to how you have spent the day. Recall what you did or failed to do. Were you diligent in your duties? How do you stand in God’s sight?”

The recognition and confession of sins and encountering again a man’s spiritual poverty increases a man’s desire to listen and speak to God for he realizes his desperate need for Him. God forgives and helps the repentant sinner to avoid sin and to perform many Works of Mercy in the future. St. Alphonsus Liguori confirms God’s help to those who practice regularly examining their consciences: “Those who practice the examination of conscience will avoid mortal sins and do penance for their venial sins.”

To more frequently listen and speak to God each day, resolve to set aside some time before sleeping to do an Examination of Conscience.

52) Receive the Sacrament of Penance more frequently

Every man sins and the more a man falls into sin, the farther and farther away he becomes from God. For those who fall into mortal sin, the Holy Spirit becomes inactive, withdrawing the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. If a man continues in the state of sin, he is in great risk, for he stops being able to listen to God clearly and may die in a state of mortal sin. St. Alphonsus Liguori warns, “How will the dying man, who has always lived in sin, be able, in the midst of the pains, the stupefaction and the confusion of death, to repent sincerely of all his past iniquities?”

For a man who desires to listen and speak with God more frequently, it is critical to keep the “lines of communication” open, unhampered by mortal sin and unrecognized venial sin. Upon entering the Confessional, a man voluntarily reopens the “lines of communication with God, for God is present through the priest.

To listen and speak to God more frequently, receive the Sacrament of Penance often to be forgiven by God and to ensure the “lines of communication” remain open with God.

53) Draw close to the Sacrament of the Eucharist multiple times per week

It is a precept of the Catholic Church that every Catholic man is obligated to attend the Sunday Eucharist every week (CCC 2180-2183); the Sunday obligation is based in part on The 3rd Commandment (“Remember to keep holy the LORD’S Day”; CCC 2168-2195).

The Sunday obligation is the minimum requirement, and every Catholic man is warmly invited and encouraged to draw close to Jesus Christ in the Eucharist on the other six days of the week. This can be done by attending Mass during the week and/or scheduling a Holy Hour in Adoration of the Eucharist (either in an Adoration Chapel or by praying in the presence of the Tabernacle).

To listen and speak to God more frequently, consider being blessed to attend Mass one or more days a week, schedule a regular Holy Hour or commit to stop by and briefly sit in the Presence of God in the Tabernacle.

54) Set daily time to hear God speaking in Sacred Scripture

One way that saints across the ages have been drawn into a deeper and more frequent conversation with God is through reading the Bible, especially the Gospels. In the ancient practice of Lectio Divina (CCC 1177), a man has a conversation with God as he reads Scripture (Lectio), listens to God (Meditatio), speaks with God (Oratio) and sits in communion with God (Contemplatio).

In the encyclical Verbum Domini (18), Pope Benedict XVI reveals that, “In the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet his children and talks with them.”

A man can hear God speaking more by frequently setting aside to read the Bible. An easy way for a man to build the habit of reading Scripture is to commit to always mediate upon the Sunday Gospel so he is well prepared to receive Christ in the Eucharist.

Begin to carry a small pocket New Testament with you to remind to turn to God in Scripture at various times of the day. Consider a simple practice of committing a few moments periodically throughout the day to open Scripture and read a verse or two; over time, you will be surprised how God draws you to His Word which is particularly needed in your current situation.

55) Pray with the Church during the week and the month

In addition to helping men draw closer to God daily by embracing daily routines across the hours of a day (e.g. daily Mass, Liturgy of the Hours, evening Examination of Conscience, etc.), the Church also helps a man listen and speak to God in special ways during every week and every month.

Through tradition, each day of the week has a special prayer focus to help men speak and listen to God by meditating on particular aspects of God, the saints and angels: Sunday: The Holy Trinity; Monday: The Holy Spirit; Tuesday: The Holy Angels; Wednesday: St. Joseph; Thursday: The Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist; Friday: The Passion of our Lord; Saturday: The Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Church also offers men a chance to speak and listen to God with special prayer intentions for every month: January: The Holy Name and Childhood of Jesus; February: The Holy Family; March: St. Joseph; April: The Holy Eucharist; May: Our Lady the Blessed Virgin Mary; June: The Sacred Heart of Jesus; July: The Most Precious Blood of Jesus; August: The Immaculate Heart of Mary; September: Our Lady of Sorrows; October: The Most Holy Rosary (and Holy Angels); November: The Poor Souls in Purgatory; December: The Immaculate Conception.

To speak and listen to God more during the day, consider setting aside time each day to have a short conversation about the prayer focus for the day (e.g. Sunday, The Holy Trinity) and for the month (e.g. January: The Holy Name and Childhood of Jesus); also recall and pray for the pope’s monthly intention.  In being drawn into the Church’s liturgy each day and month, a man can continue to speak with God about the topics which He has inspired His Church to remind men.

56) Strictly hold to Fasting and doing penance on Fridays

Inspired by Christ, the Church offers men a weekly reminder of the infinite Sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross every Friday. Out of love and gratitude for Jesus’ death on the Cross, the Church calls on every man to fast or do some other penance every Friday (CCC 1438). Sadly, for many men in the modern Church, this beautiful gift to help men draw closer to God through the discipline of Friday penance is forgotten or ignored.

To increase love and gratitude of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross for your sins, perform some act of meaningful sacrifice in His honor every Friday (fasting, abstain from meat, etc.), offer it to God and listen to His response.

57) Embrace the richness of devotion of each Liturgical Season

The Holy Catholic Church, inspired by God, has an annual calendar of the Liturgical seasons (CCC 1163) which draw men into the life of Jesus Christ. Several seasons stand out in which the Church places great emphasis: Advent, Christmastime, Lent, Holy Week, and Easter.

Each of these seasons have special prayers, practices and special days which can help a man turn from the world, and more clearly listen and speak to God through the Liturgy of His Church. A man can engage in the “rhythms” of the Church seasons by attending or praying the daily Mass using a devotional (for example, The Magnificat, or Roman Missal) or by going deeper and praying the Liturgy of the Hours (CCC 1177).

Make it a priority to more fully engage in the devotions of the Liturgical year which will open opportunities to draw closer to God each day. 

58) Make special feast days key days of spending time with God

The Church gives men the blessings of the Liturgical Year which includes special days of celebration (Solemnities, Feasts, Memorials) to remember and honor key events in the Life of Jesus Christ and to honor various Saints and Angels. During the Liturgical Year, the Church obligates men to participate in the celebration of the Liturgy on “Holy Days of Obligation” (CCC 2042-2043); rather than think of these days as a burden, consider them as great days of joy and celebration or as days of rightful contrition for sin (CCC 2043). In addition, the Church offers men the opportunity to celebrate the great saints throughout the year; there are saints that are venerated on every single day of the year (see for example, Butler’s Lives of the Saints) and, on many days of the year, the daily Mass recognizes and celebrates specific saints in the Liturgy.

In addition to those special days of the whole Church, every Catholic man has other great days in his life of faith which offer him the opportunity to draw closer to God (e.g. his baptism anniversary and those of his wife and children; for the married,  anniversary of the Sacrament of Matrimony; the Feast Day of a man’s patron saint or those of his family, the anniversary of the departed, etc.).

Look ahead on the Church’s calendar and your personal calendar and mark special days of obligation and meaning to listen and speak to God.

59) Plan and take pilgrimages

The Church has from earliest days had a tradition of taking holy pilgrimages to draw closer to God and continues to encourage men to take pilgrimages (CCC 2691, 2697) and even offer indulgences for some pilgrimages (see the Manual of Indulgences; p. 101). Pilgrimages offer men the opportunity to think, listen and speak to God as they plan, take, and fondly remember a pilgrimage.

Consider planning a pilgrimage to the Holy Lands, Rome or to other cathedrals, basilicas, shrines, or parishes so you can grow in conversation with God.

Next up: Recognize the Rewards of listening and speaking with God to sustain motivation