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How to Pray a Holy Hour

Click here for the printable, pdf version.

Pope Francis has asked all dioceses of the world to participate in the Year of Mercy in a special way today: “24 Hours for the Lord,” a global 24-hour period of Adoration.

To help, we’re reposting a piece offering some advice on how to pray a holy hour – without falling asleep or getting distracted.

To pray a holy hour, all you need is a tabernacle with a lit sanctuary lamp, a Bible, and perhaps a Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (available online).

Three Rules

1.  Be Silent. Don’t rattle prayers or silently review stresses. Be still exteriorly and interiorly.

2.  Be Attentive. It’s not simply a reading hour — reading should be an entry-point to prayer.

3.  Be Alert. Sit, stand, or kneel respectfully. Quick tip: If you get sleepy, stand up!


There is no one way to pray a holy hour. The following might help if you get lost in the hour, but feel free to reconfigure it to suit your needs.

:00-:05 – Begin

First 5 Minutes: Ask the Holy Spirit to help you, then make acts of faith, hope and charity. Tell God how you believe, trust and love him. Ask for more faith, hope and love.

Quick tip: There are great prayers to the Holy Spirit and Acts of Faith, Hope and Love in the Compendium.

:05-:15 – Adoration

Next 10 Minutes: Adore God. He holds the universe like a seed in the palm of his hand. He is all powerful, all good, more beautiful than we can imagine, and more real than the small things that we grasp so easily. Imagine Christ sitting with you.

Tell him: “Oh my God, I adore your divine greatness from the depths of my littleness; you are so great, and I am so small.” or “Glory be …” Repeat as long as necessary.

Quick Tip: Try the Te Deum in the Compendium. Scriptural helps for adoration—Exodus 33:18-23; Song of Songs 2:8-17;  Matthew 2:1-11; John 1:1-18;  Colossians 1:15-20; Philippians, 2:6-11.

:15-:25 – Contrition

Next 10 Minutes: Offer reparation. It’s not your love for God, but his for you that saves. Examine your conscience. Offer reparation for the sins of the world. Pray: “Oh my Jesus, I am so sorry. Forgive me.” (Imagine Jesus on the cross; kiss each wound.)

Quick tip: Scriptures for contrition—1Corinthians 13:4-7; Colossians 3:5-10; 1 Timothy 1:12-17; James 3:2-12; 1 John 1:5-2:6; Penitential Psalms: 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 142.

:25-:40 – Meditation

Next 15 Minutes: Contemplate God’s action. You may wish to meditatively pray the Stations of the Cross or a Rosary. Or:

Scriptural meditation. Read a brief Gospel passage. Imagine the scene. Notice Christ’s reactions. Think of three ways the passage applies to your own life. Meditate on each line.

Doctrinal meditation. Read Scripture or Catechism passages that apply to a doctrine of the Church. Appreciate God’s plan and find ways it applies to you. (Perhaps: Sun, Resurrection; Mon, Incarnation; Tues, Mercy/con­fession; Wed, Holy Spirit; Thurs, Eucharist; Fri, Passion; Sat., Mary).

Life meditation. Or, deepening your examination of conscience, look at your own life. Which kind of pride do you most fall into? Selfishness (valuing yourself most), Vanity (valuing others opinions most), Sensuality (valuing comforts most). Pray for the opposite virtues: Charity (serving others first), Fidelity (putting Christ’s opinion first), Discipline (accepting your crosses).

:40-:50 – Thanksgiving

Next 10 Minutes: Express gratitude for all God’s gifts. He didn’t just create you, he sustains your existence out of love in every moment.

Thank him for literally everything, and be specific: food, shelter, clothing, health, family, friends, teachers, coworkers, home, and most of all spiritual gifts — faith, hope, love, this time of prayer, the Catholic faith, the disciples who reached you.

Thank God for answers to prayer. Thank him for crosses. Thank him for creating you and caring so much for you that he died for you.

Quick tip: Scriptures for thanksgiving – Genesis 1; Genesis 8:15-22; Job 1:13-22; Daniel 3:46 ff.; Matthew 6:25-34; Luke 17:11-19; Psalms: 8, 65, 66, 100, 111.

:50-:55 – Petition God

Next 5 Minutes: Ask God for what you and others need. He is the king of the universe. He’s in control, even when it isn’t obvious.

Pray for: The Church, the pope’s intentions, for those who are suffering, for priests and bishops, for religious, for vocations, for your country, your family, for what you need most in the spiritual life. Pray for peace and the protection of the institution of the family. Pray for those who have asked for prayers.


Final 5 Minutes: Make a resolution to act on a light of the Holy Spirit you received: something doable and checkable.

Ask the Blessed Mother to help you, perhaps with Marian prayers from the Compendium.

The Gregorian Institute is Benedictine College’s initiative to promote Catholic identity in public life by equipping leaders (the Gregorian speech digest), training leaders (the Gregorian Fellows), defending the faith (the Memorare Army for Religious Freedom), and celebrating Catholic identity (the Catholic Hall of Fame).

Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes, author of The Rosary of Saint John Paul II and The Fatima Family Handbook, is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Kansas and hosts The Extraordinary Story podcast about the life of Christ. His book What Pope Francis Really Said is now available on Audible. A former reporter in the Washington, D.C., area, Hoopes served as press secretary of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee Chairman and spent 10 years as executive editor of the National Catholic Register newspaper and Faith & Family magazine. His work frequently appears in Catholic publications such as Aleteia.org and the Register. He and his wife, April, have nine children and live in Atchison, Kansas.