Is There Ever a Wrong Way or a Wrong Time to Pray?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that “prayer is the living relationship of the children of God with their Father who is good beyond measure.” (paragraph 2565) And St. Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians tells us to “pray without ceasing.” So it makes sense that we would want to pray, to lift our hearts up to the Lord, at any moment that we can.

But have you ever wondered if it’s irreverent to pray while you’re driving, on a run, or in the shower? This is what a listener recently called in to Go Ask Your Father™ to ask. He wondered if it was improper or irreverent to pray while driving, since he wasn’t always able to focus 100% on prayer.

Msgr. Stuart Swetland told him, “St. Paul teaches us to pray always, so no it’s not [improper]. And we always should be aware, as much as we can be, that we’re living in the presence of God. So there isn’t, in that sense, a wrong time to pray.”

“Obviously, all the virtues need to be brought into play there,” he continued. “So when we’re driving we can pray, but there are certain ways we can’t pray when we’re driving. Like we can’t shut our eyes and pray. We can’t do deep meditative prayer while we’re driving because we have the prudential obligation to be a safe participant in traffic.”

And while there are certain kinds of prayer that don’t lend themselves to particular places, like the car, there are ways to adapt your thinking and your prayer so that you can have a fruitful conversation with the Lord.

“Praying the Rosary while we drive is something that I think can be done by most people, as long as they keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel,” Msgr. Swetland suggested. “It’s not something that is that distracting, in my opinion. It’s like carrying on a conversation with the passenger next to you. That’s how I look at praying the Rosary in the car. It’s like I’m talking to the Lord sitting in  the passenger seat as I’m going down the road.”

And although it might seem silly to offer up a prayer while you’re brushing your teeth or driving in the car, it is actually a good practice to make prayer a part of such daily routines. The Catechism tells us that “we cannot pray ‘at all times’ if we do not pray at specific times.” And so offering up a prayer during set times is good for us as humans, and good for our relationship with the Lord.

Msgr. Swetland told the listener, “It’s good to have a prayer routine, because we humans being who we are, if we don’t get into the habit of regularly taking time out to speak to God heart to heart, we have a tendency to forget Him, or not think of Him as much as we should. So I recommend having a prayer routine that has some regularity to it. A daily prayer life of depth and substance. But you can pray and should pray everywhere and always.”

Listen to the full conversation below:

Go Ask Your Father airs weekdays at 1:00 p.m. Eastern/10:00 a.m Pacific on Relevant Radio® and the Relevant Radio App.