Why Men Need To Pray and Three Ways To Do It
“Let your prayer be manly.”
-Saint Josemaria Escriva
Data from a 2014 Pew Study suggested that women are more “religious” than men. According to the study, more woman consider their faith “very important” compared to women, women report praying daily more regularly than men, and women are more likely to attend a church service at least once a week.
In my own experience I tend to see more women at Mass than men. Daily Mass has about a 10:1 women to men ratio, and I’ve found that it’s usually mom will drag their kids kicking and screaming to fulfill their Sunday obligation.
Both the scienctific and anecdotal data show that women are more likely to practice their faith than men, but why does that matter?
The same study concluded that:
“It is the religious practice of the father of the family that, above all, determines the future attendance at or absence from church of the children.”
Fathers have a tremendous responsibility to lead their families. The study seems to suggest that the responsibility for future religious faith of their children lays on the shoulders of the man they call dad.
The study goes on:
“If both father and mother attend regularly, 33 percent of their children will end up as regular churchgoers […] If the father is irregular and mother regular, only 3 percent of the children will subsequently become regulars themselves […] If the father is non-practicing and mother regular, only 2 percent of children will become regular worshippers.
[If] the father is regular but the mother irregular or non-practicing? Extraordinarily, the percentage of children becoming regular goes upfrom 33 percent to 38 percent with the irregular mother and to 44 percent with the non-practicing.
If you are a father you have an extra-ordinary responsibility to your children and to your spouse. Fatherhood comes with spiritual responsibilities and reprocussions that we may not have signed up for. Nonetheless, it is up to us to help our children come to know, love, and serve God.
We can’t keep skipping out on Mass or any other Church related obligation because we are putting the souls of our kids at stake.
If you aren’t a father yet, but hope to be one some day, start building your foundation now. Make the investment in your family’s spiritual well-being by cultivating an intentional prayer life and…drum roll please…pursuing virtue!
Most likely, many of the prayers, rituals, and religious behaviors we grew up with have fallen into the category of, “My grandmother used to do that.” There isn’t a one size fits all way of going about it when it comes to building your relationship with God. That‘s why I’m going to introduce 3 manly ways to connect with the Almighty.
Buckle up, this list isn’t going to be what you expect.
The word “Mass’' comes from the Latin Missa or Missio which means to be sent forth. Now before you stop reading and “x” out of this article let me remind you that you are seeking virtue, not entertainment. Entertainment won’t get us to where we want to be. That doesn’t mean we have to sit through boring, hour long Sunday services and leave empty handed because “It’s what God wants.” It means that you get to sit through possibly boring, hour long Sunday services, and leave with something.
You just need to know what you’re looking at.
Countless martyrs have given their lives for the chance to sit and pray the Mass. Why? Those men and women exhibited incredible courage and despite a near guarantee of death if caught. Yet they risked it all to attend Mass. It wasn’t because the priest told great jokes and was giving great homilies, and I promise you it wasn’t because the worship band and projected lyrics were in sync and on point.
Saints gave it all to attend a single Mass because Jesus was there. Jesus was present physically in the Eucharist. If you are serious about pursing virtue, you must go to and pray the Mass. If the Mass is boring to you I understand. It’s probably the same type of experience for you as it was for me when I went to my first hockey game. I didn’t understand the rules, I didn’t know everyone’s role, and I didn’t see the intricacies of what it took to be out there besides not falling. In the same way, once you learn the who, why, and how of the Mass, you will understand why the Saints called it Heaven on Earth. For a good resource on the Mass check out The Lamb's Supper: The Bible and the Mass by Scott Hahn.
This is probably one of the most unused forms of prayer. This is largely because it’s intimidating to read the Bible, let alone pray with it. There are so many different types of books, some with odd stories, long genealogies, and the occasional relatable insight.
In the same way that we need to familiarize ourselves with the Mass in order to pray it, we need to familiarize ourselves with Sacred Scripture (the Bible). The best place to start is the New Testament, and specifically the four Gospels.
Take 10 minutes a day and read through a couple of chapters from the Gospels of Mark or John. As you read ask yourself “What is the text saying about God?” And “What is God saying to me through the text?” Usually a scene, phrase, or word will stick out. Sit silently and see where God leads your thoughts, why did that stick out to you? What could God be saying?
For additional insights and guidance while praying you can you download my free eBook. It’s a very preliminary guide through a short book in the New Testament called the Letter to the Ephesians. It’s about 60 pages long and it’s meant to be read over the span of a couple of weeks. Click here to download the free eBook.
I’ve been told that Mary taught the Rosary to St Dominic, I’ve also be told that the Rosary developed over time and evolved from prayer beads that only required an “Our Father.” Regardless of whatever origin story you want to believe, the Rosary is another prayer that is held in high esteem by countless Saints and men of virtue.
It would do us good to break the stigma of rosaries being the past time of only our grandmothers and spiritual elites. The Rosary helps us pursue God and virtue in two ways.
First, when we pray the Rosary and meditate on the mysteries, we ask to see Jesus through the eyes of Mary. We accept that Mary knows Jesus more intimately than us, and by praying through the mysteries of Christ’s life with Mary, we are pursuing God. Second, this type of pursuit requires humility and patience along with a few other “lower” virtues. When praying the Rosary we are asking Mary to lead us closer to Jesus, because it’s proven difficult to follow God on our own.
But Is That Manly?
I know what you might be thinking, all I did was list and explain three forms of prayer that you probably already knew about. Nothing in the three types of prayer I listed aren’t inherently “manly.”
Thats because what makes a prayer manly isn’t the type of prayer that you’re saying. What makes a prayer manly is the fact that you’re saying it. The way you pray is manly, because God made you a man. St Josemaria Escriva drives this point home when he says,
“These devotions can be very manly if it is a man who does them, in a spirit of prayer and penance.” (The Way, paragraph 574)
The way that you connect to God will be manly, because you are. In our pursuit for virtue and for God, the most important thing is that we make time to connect to God every day. I hope these three ways are a good place to start.
Until next time - Esto Vir!
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