Tips for Leading a Simple Prayer

Often, I find myself at a gathering of Catholics (usually catechists and/or catechetical leaders) in which someone has been asked to prepare and lead an opening prayer. All too often, however, the prayer experience proceeds in the following manner:

  1. The leader stands up and says something like, “OK, so, I thought I would share this nice poem I just came across recently and it meant a lot to me.”
  2. The leader reads the poem.
  3. The leader says “Amen” and then everyone else mumbles an Amen.
  4. The leader sits down and people smile and tell him/her that was a nice poem.

And most often, they are nice poems, but that’s not a good example of how Catholics pray together. While it is true that we can pray simply and spontaneously, at more formal gatherings, our prayer is to resemble how we pray at Mass. In other words, the prayer is meant to be liturgical which means that it should have a basic structure, include parts for the assembly, include Scripture, and include elements of sign, symbol, and ritual. The problem is, far too many of us have never been taught how to prepare and lead a simple liturgical prayer.

With that in mind, I’d like to offer the following resource: “Simple Tips for Leading a Simple Prayer.” Emphasis on simple! For many of these types of occasions, the prayer is intended to be brief: 5 to 10 minutes. We often do not have the time to do something very complex. Even so, we can do something liturgical. Think of this resource as a primer…it is a starting point. Obviously (and many of my more liturgically astute friends will no doubt feel compelled to point out that there are things missing from the this resource) there is much more that can be done. However, if we can get this first step down, we can build upon it. It’s like learning a basic step in ballroom dancing: once you have the basic step down, you can learn how to improvise and add more steps.

Anyway, next week, I’ll be working with a group of folks who find themselves in situations where they are often called upon to lead prayer but feel that they lack some basic knowledge and skills to do this properly. I developed this resource for them and am happy to share it with you. I’m eager to get your feedback.

Have a great weekend!
Simple Tips for Leading a Simple Prayer

About Joe Paprocki 2770 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at

9 Comments on Tips for Leading a Simple Prayer

  1. Joe,

    For whatever reason- this PDF would not load for me? I tried several times- perhaps it is something with my computer. I was wondering if anyone else had trouble opening it?
    Thanks for the wonderful work you do. I use your site FREQUENTLY and share your materials all of the time with the many Catechists in our program.

    Thanks again,
    Jane Kunzweiler

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