The Essential Role of Prayer for Catholic Teachers: A Spiritual Guide

Jonathan Doyle Global Catholic Speaker

In today’s episode, Jonathan shares a heartfelt reflection on the indispensable role of prayer in the life of a Catholic educator. Despite recent challenges, Jonathan emphasizes the transformative power of prayer, urging listeners to deepen their spiritual journey. Drawing on personal experiences and insights, he explores the significance of the Divine Office and the Rosary, inviting educators to embrace prayer as essential work.

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    Welcome Aboard

    Well, hello there. My friend, Jonathan Doyle, is with you once again. Welcome aboard to the Catholic Teacher Daily Podcast. Again, thanks to everybody who has been checking in on me. If you are not aware, if you are just a fan finding this podcast by random, I did manage to have a major accident two weeks ago today. Broke 12 ribs, shattered my shoulder and collarbone, and had a bunch of surgery.

    Gratitude Amidst Adversity

    Two weeks today and I am actually doing really well. I have been amazed at the impact of prayer. I’ve had prayer ministries, I’ve had people lay hands on me. I’ve had people praying for me around the world. I kept fit and I went into the accident probably in a pretty good physical space, but I genuinely have, feel, have felt so upheld by prayer. It changes things.

    I’m really grateful to everybody who did that. I have to go back into the hospital tomorrow and get all this stuff taken out of my shoulder, which is not exciting. My sufferings with the cross of Christ tomorrow. I really mean that I take that stuff pretty seriously, but it’s going to be an interesting day. So over here in this life, keep me in your prayers, but God is good. I’m feeling good and I’m feeling carried. I’m feeling grateful.

    The Non-Negotiable Role of Prayer in the Life of a Catholic Teacher

    Prayer isn't just an option for Catholic educators; it's the cornerstone of their vocation
    Prayer isn't just an option for Catholic educators; it's the cornerstone of their vocation

    Friends, there’s been something on my heart that I wanted to share with you guys for a few weeks. This is really about the non-negotiable nature of prayer in the life of a Catholic teacher, and it’s stuff I’ve spoken about before. If you’ve seen me speak live, I don’t think I’ve ever walked off a stage at an event, speaking to Catholic educators anywhere in the world. Where I haven’t mentioned this as a pillar. So I want to set this up correctly and give you a few co-principals.

    I want to suggest to you that if you love the Lord, if you love being a Catholic teacher, despite its challenges and difficulties, and if you care deeply about young people, then the life of prayer is non-negotiable for the Catholic educator. And by the life of prayer, I don’t mean that as you’re driving to work, you’re drinking coffee, and you’re saying, ‘Lord, help me to get through today.’ Friends, that is a valid prayer, and I do not denigrate it. It is. If you’re praying in your car, that is a thing. And God hears that, and He will honor that.

    Understanding the Current Spiritual Climate

    Spiritual turbulence grips our interconnected world, hinting at a profound global spiritual battle
    Spiritual turbulence grips our interconnected world, hinting at a profound global spiritual battle

    But I really think that he is asking about something, particularly this moment in history. He’s asking for more from us. Why this moment in history? It’s going sideways, right? Like the world is in a crazy place. Geopolitics, conflict, war, all the stuff that keeps people up at night, cost of living, interest rates, everything. 

    I was just speaking on another podcast in the studio earlier today, talking about those things. The world always had its problems and challenges. Sometimes, I think it’s just the nature of the media that we see them more. Now that they’re more mainstream. We’re so interconnected that the problems the world faces seem to be very present.

    But I sense a kind of spiritual rage, thinking that the devil is. really doing something. I think that there’s a spiritual attack at a very, very global level. The devil has always been active. But I just have this sense.

    Addressing challenges within the Church

    In my seminars recently, I’ve been constantly talking about the three crisis models of the church. And the third crisis is this crisis of the human person. I think that what the enemy is doing is really attacking the face of God by attacking the image of God in the human person. I think that anybody that stands up to protect and to advocate the beauty of faith and the dignity of the person is going to experience spiritual challenges at the moment. That’s a little rabbit trail that I just chased there.

    I just think that all of this means that the life of prayer is more important than you may realize. I genuinely believe that to be the Catholic teacher that God has called you to be, there are dimensions of your vocation that are only going to be activated by the pursuit of a significant life of prayer.

    The Discipline of Prayer: Jonathan's Personal Approach

    What I want to do is I will give you a little insight into how that works for me and the little insight that I had recently. I’m always prefacing this by saying that when I talk about my own discipline of prayer, I’m desperate to communicate that there is no hubris or pride in this. Because I don’t want people to hear the way that I set up my prayer life, I don’t want you to hear it as a template. It’s just the way that my life’s evolved. You know how I do life.

    So for me, usually, if I’m not maiming myself in bike crashes and going to the hospital, most days I’m up at 4:00 AM. I have a coffee machine on a timer so that when I come down to my downstairs office, everything’s just ready to go. I’ve got a really beautiful prayer space. You should check it out. So if you look on Instagram, you can find me at @jdoylespeaks. Most mornings I post an updated daily photograph of my prayer space, and I post it on my Instagram story because I just want people to be encouraged. I want people to see each day, and there’s a timestamp on it. So you know that I’m not just in the same photograph over and over again.

    I want you to be encouraged. I want you to see that people do this. People do get up and pray and make it a real thing every day. I have this beautiful space where I have my incense, and I’m a bit of a geek for this stuff.

    The Communal Aspect of Prayer

    Individuals unite in collective worship in a sacred space adorned with symbols of faith
    Individuals unite in collective worship in a sacred space adorned with symbols of faith

    I think that there’s a reason that the Catholic Church has had beautiful churches all throughout history and that beauty and sensory things matter. I’ve got a great friend, my father Dave, who presided over our marriage 24 years ago. He’s a great iconographer, and over the years, he’s given me a couple of beautiful icons. It’s  sort of a copy of a Rublev icon of the blessed mother and one of the Lord with St. John. And I have these two icons, and I have my candles. so I pray to the divine office. I reckon I’d probably pray to the divine office now pretty much every day for, I don’t know, 15 years, maybe at least.

    I’ve had this battle in myself for many years where I’ve even said to like spiritual directors. I’m like, Oh, I wonder if this is too formulaic and am I just doing this out of ritual. It’s been a long journey to come to this place where I really have come to love praying for the divine office. I’ll tell you a couple of reasons why.

    Embracing the Divine Office: A Journey of Faith

    One, is because if you understand anything about the divine office, maybe even some of you have never heard of it. So the divine office is the prayer of the church. So it is a book of shared prayer that is prayed all throughout the global Catholic Church, every single day. So men and women all throughout the world—lay people, monastics, priests, bishops, and Popes—pray the same prayer. So that the church herself every day is praying together. I genuinely feel that when I pray in the divine office, I am praying with the church. I’m praying with people in Ethiopia, in Russia, I’m praying with people maybe in Antarctica. I’m praying with Catholic brothers and sisters all over the world. And I love that. I love that it’s rooted and grounded in the communion of faith.

    The Primacy of Praise: Starting the Day with God

    Starting the day with praise opens a path of gratitude and reverence that shapes our every interaction
    Starting the day with praise opens a path of gratitude and reverence that shapes our every interaction

    The second thing I love about it is that this has come to me even more strongly recently, and it’s the purpose behind this particular podcast today, is the work of the praise of God. If you know anything about the divine office, the first words of the divine office every single day for morning prayer, at least, ‘oh Lord. Open our lips, or Lord, open my lips, and I shall praise your name.’ 

    So I have a coffee and I come to my prayer space, and I begin to pray on my own. It’s quite beautiful because the first words that come out of my mouth every single day are the praise of God. That’s significant. The monastics talk about someone called the great silence, and the great silence is the silence from the end of night prayer, through until the start of morning prayer. They call it the great silence, which is: The monks pray the last lines of the night prayer, then they sleep, and there’s this silence. And then they awaken in great silence, the first thing that breaks the silence is the praise of God.

    I think that’s quite beautiful. Lord, open my lips, and I shall praise your name so that, despite all my other, you cut me off in traffic, I’m using a very different language. Pray for me I’m a sinner. But it is quite beautiful that the first thing that comes out of my mouth is the praise of God, or at least the desire to praise God.

    The Work of Prayer: Finding Meaning in Routine

    For a long time, I would pray the Psalms because with the divine office you are praying the Psalms. I wonder if I’m just doing this part formula, is this just rote prayer.  And more recently, what I’ve come to is a real consciousness of the praise of God, like really trying to pray because I sing it. Not everybody does this, but the divine office is meant to be sung. So I sing the divine office.  And so it’s the praise of God just coming through first thing in the day.

    It’s this concept of the work of prayer that I thought, for many years, prayer should be this beautiful emotional exchange between me and God. I should feel deeply. Profoundly moved emotionally. For me, this is mostly spiritual, that’s very rare. I don’t tend to have these profound thoughts. I don’t get swept up into the sixth heaven. I just came to this point recently. No, this is the work of prayer I have to do. This is work. I didn’t realize the prayer was work. As well as everything else that it is, that it is work sometimes to sing the praises of God. And I began to I guess come to peace with that. 

    It is beholden upon me to do the work of prayer. And so I pray to the divine office. And then at the end of that, I usually have the St. Michael prayer in terms of spiritual warfare, and then every day for as long as I can remember, wherever I am in the world, I’ll then tend to pray the rosary.

    The Protective Role of Marian Prayer

    Marian prayer acts as a protective shield against evil forces while advocating for the needs of others
    Marian prayer acts as a protective shield against evil forces while advocating for the needs of others

    I always say that I didn’t grow up in a Marian household. I didn’t have a Marian devotion. But the strange thing is that I have developed this. God’s given me this beautiful desire to really intercede for people. So in this rosary every day, I pray for people all around the world. I really pray deeply through that rosary for people and I pray for the souls in purgatory. Just for the needs of the day, but I and I just think that there is a very strong relationship between Marian prayer and the protection from the demonic.

    Entrusting Family to Mary's Protection

    There is a reason in Genesis where the Lord God tells us that the woman will crush the head of the serpent. And there is something about the blessed mother that, if you develop a relationship with her, you honor her. She will have your back. And I don’t know what it is about her, but the demonic just does not have any hope. So I entrust my family every single day to her protection. And do we have problems and challenges? Yes, we do. But just know she’s got our back.

    I was thinking recently, when you’re praying the Holy Mary every single day, your life, and you’re praying the rosary, that beautiful line, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our deaths. I was thinking the other day, like I was given to her regularly, I seem to have bike crashes and when I was in the hospital, I saw a lot of these really older people close to the end of their lives. And I thought, as you get older, you realize that day will come. And I said, I wonder what it’s going to mean that I’ve spent 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 years. Every single day, multiple times, I ask the blessed mother to pray for me at the hour of my death.

    Invitation to a Deeper Spiritual Life

    Like nurturing a garden, consistent prayer effort fosters soulful growth towards a deeper spiritual life.
    Like nurturing a garden, consistent prayer effort fosters soulful growth towards a deeper spiritual life

    My friend, I’m sending this message today about the work of prayer. And I don’t know what your prayer life is like at the moment. And I am desperate not to lay a burden on your shoulders. I’m trying to extend an invitation to a deeper level of vocation, a deeper level of spiritual life, because there is the teacher you are now, and there is the teacher that God knows you can become. And the gap between those two things has a few components. There’s the sacraments and prayer; there’s the pursuit of virtue; and there’s a docility to the will of God. I just think it’s non-negotiable, and I’m worried that many good Catholic teachers seem to think that a life of prayer is a nice thing to have, but not a must-have. Priests pray or nuns pray, but we don’t pray.

    So I just want to encourage you to consider the work of prayer. If you have a garden, It’s work, like my son and I, he’s a teenager, he’s a great kid. And yesterday, it’s winter here, and there’s a lot of work to do around the yard. You want to have things look nice, you want things to be ready to flourish, you have to do the work. And the work has to be done regularly and has to be done well. The work that you do on a regular basis, this leads to flourishing in the right season. Prayer may be a little bit similar to that, the work of prayer.

    Edith Stein's Wisdom

    Give God the first hour. Do the work He assigns, and He will empower you to succeed

    I wanted to finish with a little quote for you from Edith Stein. If you’re not familiar with Edith Stein, it’s another one of the reasons I love this holy Roman church. Few things make me smile and just go what the, as the idea that the Catholic church is anti-woman. We have a woman as the God bearer, the mother of God. We have a woman who was the first disciple, we have a woman who is the greatest Christian in history.

    That’s a bit of Catholic trivia because I say to people who’s the greatest Christian in history and people go, Jesus, I go in and say Jesus wasn’t a Christian, because that would be him following himself, which he can’t do. People think they are Paul or Peter. And I go, it’s. Mary. And then you get the doctors of the church, right? You get Teresa of Avila, Therese of Lisieux. They are just boss ladies, they are just insane spiritual giants. 

    And Edith Stein, if you’re not familiar with her, Teresa Benedict of the Cross, is just an intellectual giant. So her work in the 20th century, there’s a good chance that they’re beginning the process of considering her to be the next doctor of the church. She died, of course, in the Holocaust. But let me share this quote with you today. She says,

    "Let go of your plans. The first hour of your morning belongs to God. Tackle the day's work that he charges you with, and he will give you the power to accomplish it."

    Embracing Prayer: The Foundation of Daily Life

    She knew the work of prayer. She knew that the day had to begin with giving to God, what was due to him. His praise, His worship, that’s the work.

    So my friends, my encouragement to you today is to consider going more deeply into the life of prayer. Practically what do you do, just find a space. Maybe it’s a church, maybe it’s your home, but find somewhere and make that a place where you meet with the Lord every single day. Then go about your work and he will give you the power to accomplish it.

    Call to Action

    Jonathan Doyle speaks to the Catholic community on a range of subjects

    That’s it for me. Please make sure you’ve subscribed. If you like the podcast, please subscribe to it. And leaving a review would be a great blessing. And of course, if you can share with people, that’s a great blessing. You pop it on your social media feeds or send it to other teachers and everything you need to know about me is on the website: You can book me to speak live. I’m going to be back in the U.S. a few times this year and my consulting work for Catholic institutions is there. So go check that out because that’s where we’re and that’s where you can find out how you can engage with me.

    God bless you my friends. I’ll be praying for you as I think about you throughout the day and in my rosary tomorrow. Thank you for what you’re doing every single day as a Catholic educator. My name is Jonathan Doyle. This has been the Catholic Teacher Daily Podcast. And you and I are going to talk again tomorrow.

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    Jonathan Doyle


    I’m on a mission to liberate the potential of the incredible people that make up your organisation, school, or business.

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