Is it bad if I fall asleep while praying?

Do you struggle to stay awake when you pray? Does it get worse when you pray at night or during the afternoon? This is a common problem, and one that Eddie in San Francisco wondered about. He called Go Ask Your FatherTM to ask: “I often fall asleep while I’m praying the Rosary with my prayer group in the afternoon. Why does this happen?”

“What’s happening is you’re relaxing and you’re throwing your cares on the Lord, as you should. It’s not unusual, especially if we’re tired, that when we do that we get sleepy. There’s an old adage that if you fall asleep while you’re saying your prayer, your guardian angel finishes it for you. So, don’t be that concerned about that.

“This is one of the reasons that I recommend to people that they do their meditation early in the day when they’re still fresh, especially in the morning it’s a great way to start the day. But God understands if you fall asleep while praying. We have the example of the apostles who were the first to fall asleep in their holy hour on that night in Gethsemane. It did frustrate the Lord a little bit but he wasn’t too harsh on them. But it does say we’re weak beings and it does admit that we need things like rest,” said Msgr. Stuart Swetland, host of Go Ask Your Father.

Eddie said he is praying the Divine Mercy Novena, which is traditionally prayed during the hour of Divine Mercy at 3:00pm, for discernment during his preparation for ordination into the permanent diaconate. He wondered if, per Msgr. Swetland’s advice, he could pray the novena early in the morning when he’s more alert, not at his place of work, and less likely to fall asleep while praying.

“There’s an old adage that you can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. It would be ideal if you could do it at the 3:00 hour, but it’s not essential that you do it there. It’s better that you pray it when you can pray it, than not pray it because you can’t do it at 3,” said Msgr. Swetland. “So, I would not be that concerned about that and especially if you’re preparing to discern a call to Holy Orders, I would recommend getting a spiritual director who can help you walk through how to structure your spiritual life to be taking the most fruitful advantage of the time you have.”