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Psychological Healing
in the Catholic Mystic Tradition

Learning to Pray

Prayer is not a matter of pleasing God;
it’s a matter of opening your heart to accept the love that God gives to you
without merit on your part.


Reverence for the Mass  |  Spiritual Counsels  |  Books  |  About CSF

Introduction | Asking for Guidance | Praying Constantly | Feelings in Prayer | Distractions During Prayer | When You Don’t Receive Answers to Your Prayers | Vocal Prayer and Mental Prayer | Prayer of the Heart (The Sign of the Cross; Improvised Prayer; The Jesus Prayer; Catholic Mindfulness; Insomnia; Prayer Before Eating) | Formal Prayers | Beyond the Basics (Deliverance Prayer; The Miraculous Medal; The Angelus; The Rosary; The Chaplet of The Divine Mercy; The 3 O’Clock Prayer) | The Liturgy of the Hours


BECAUSE we do not experience a normal sensory perception of God, to live a properly ordered and directed holy life it is necessary to maintain a constant mental contact with God through prayer.

Prayer, however, is not a way to bribe a cosmic magician to work magic tricks so we can get whatever we want from life. Nor is prayer a matter of earning spiritual rewards points that can buy our way into heaven. Prayer is about protection: protection from evil, protection from temptations, protection from trauma, protection from doubt, and protection from despair, among other things.

Our time in prayer, therefore, is the only time, in this life, when we can live in holiness. How sad that so many of Christ’s own anointed treat Him so carelessly as to neglect simple, heartfelt prayer in which we speak intimately to God as we would speak to another trusted person.

When you constantly open your heart to God in prayer, you will be constantly in His protection. On the other hand, if you neglect this prayerful communication with God you will be afflicted with all the untreated wounds of your own psychological emptiness.


For some persons—especially those wounded by childhood abuse or neglect—the greatest obstacle to prayer is the irrational (that is, unconscious) belief that they are such despicable and evil persons that God has totally abandoned them and refuses to hear any pleas for help. although this belief is refuted by the Bible itself (e.g., 1 Timothy 2:4), such a belief derives psychologically from a confusion of God with the “Other” (i.e., the social world around us). In truth, the social world, at its best, is completely indifferent to our welfare, and, at its worst, it “sees” us only as objects to be manipulated for its own satisfaction. In other words, it is not God’s rejection of you but sin itself—the rejection of God by the “Other”— that has abused you.


If you cling to the understanding that God does not reject anyone—but that in our blindness and anger we can reject God—then you can perceive prayer to be a constant reminder of the presence of God, and prayer will be something you want to do, not something you have to do to avoid punishment.

Read an instruction about prayer by
Saint John Mary Vianney

Asking for Guidance

The surest approach to learning to pray properly is to begin by desiring to love God and to trust in His guidance and protection. Then instill in your heart a deep sorrow for sin (both yours and that of others) while desiring to be freed from the illusions of your own identity. Then confirm this desire by fasting; that is, by making sacrifices of time, food, and other personal pleasures. And then sustain this desire by constantly speaking to God as you would to a trusted master, telling Him, in quiet confidence, everything you are experiencing and asking Him for help and guidance in accomplishing every task before you.

Read an excerpt from a treatise by Saint Cyprian
about reverent and humble prayer

You might want to use the following prayer to the Holy Spirit as a short formal prayer in regard to guidance; this is my own version. But be careful! It’s easy to say the words, but do you have the courage to allow the process of transformation to occur within you? 


take me as Your disciple.
Guide me; illuminate me; sanctify me.
Show me what is holy,
and I will pursue it.
Show me what is unholy,
and I will turn from it.
Direct me, and with Your grace I will obey.
Lead me, then, into the fullness of Your Truth and Wisdom.


Available as a prayer card 

Praying Constantly

We should all learn to pray constantly—as our Lord Jesus Christ advised us (Luke 18:1). This involves vocal prayer, which is the recitation of the Church’s “standard” prayers, and it involves mental prayer, which has three dynamically intertwined components: a quiet, internal meditation (i.e., a deliberate thinking about divine things); contemplation (i.e., a surrendering to the experience of divine love); and spontaneous communication with God (i.e., constantly being aware of God’s presence, and asking for His help, in all that you experience in every moment.

Read a selection from a homily about praying constantly
by Saint John Chrysostom

Therefore, in praying constantly, we bring our minds into our hearts, such that our thoughts are constantly attuned to the presence of God, and our hearts are constantly inflamed with love for God and concern for the salvation of our neighbors. 


Are we then ceaselessly to bend our knees, to lie prostrate, or to lift up our hands? Is this what He meant in saying: Pray without ceasing? Even if we admit that we pray in this fashion, I do not believe that we can do so all the time.
     Yet there is another, interior kind of prayer without ceasing, namely, the desire of the heart. Whatever else you may be doing, if you but fix your desire on God’s Sabbath rest, your prayer will be ceaseless. Therefore, if you wish to pray without ceasing, do not cease to desire.
     The constancy of your desire will itself be the ceaseless voice of your prayer. And that voice of your prayer will be silent only when your love ceases. For who are silent? Those of whom it is said: Because evil has abounded, the love of many will grow cold.
     The chilling of love means that the heart is silent; while burning love is the outcry of the heart.


—From a discourse on the psalms by Saint Augustine, bishop
(Office of Readings, Friday:
Third Week of Advent)

Feelings in Prayer: Natural and Spiritual

Some persons become discouraged because they don’t feel anything when they pray. Some persons even take this as an indication that they aren’t “worthy” enough for God to listen to their prayers. And some persons seek out charismatic groups in an effort to create their own ecstatic feelings.

Natural Feelings

Prayer, however, is not a psychological process, and genuine Catholic mystics have consistently told us that we aren’t supposed to feel anything in prayer; that is, we aren’t supposed to feel natural feelings such as feeling special or feeling good about ourselves. God works His graces silently in the soul—unseen, unfelt, and unheard by the natural bodily senses.

Spiritual Feelings

In contrast to natural feelings, which more often than not lead us into the deadly sins of pride and sensual pleasure, spiritual feelings such as compunction, loving gratitude and joy, and spiritual warmth and light do have a very profound place in prayer. These spiritual feelings emerge from the depths of one’s heart (or being) when prayer produces the fruit of God’s grace.

Distractions During Prayer

Our minds will always tend to wander when praying. So, when you encounter distracting thoughts during your meditations, you can do several things:

First, take a brief mental “time out” and do what you can to recognize the content of your “wanderings.”

Then look at the distractions psychologically and seek to explain to yourself why they are happening just at that moment and what they are telling you about the current difficulties you face in your life.

Finally, say to yourself, “It’s OK. I don’t have to repeat the prayer until I get it perfect. My intent is love; I don’t have to be perfect to love, and I don’t have to be perfect in not having intruding thoughts. So let’s return to the prayer.”

When You Don’t Receive Answers to Your Prayers

although some persons mistakenly complain that God does not answer their prayers, God always answers our prayers. Yet the answer may not be what we would like or what we are expecting. In this regard, from my clinical work I have seen four characteristic mistakes that are commonly made.


Not listening. In every moment God is telling you through inner inspiration how to do His will, but because you don’t like what He is saying—or because you’re afraid to hear the truth—or because you are caught up in your anger—you don’t listen.


Not paying attention. God often answers prayers through external circumstances, rather than through inner inspiration. Hence, you can receive guidance from what you read, from what others say, or even from the mystical meaning of events around you. When you find yourself in an difficult situation, therefore, it can be an opportunity to grow in faith by facing the difficulty with trust that God will guide you through the problem. But if you’re not paying attention to the fact that a trial can be an opportunity, you will just complain about how miserably you are being treated and how it seems that you aren’t receiving any consolation from your prayer.


Pride. Some persons have a deep psychological need to feel “special,” and they will pray for things knowing that, if they were given what they want, it would either prove to the world how exceptional they are, or it would give themselves reason to believe that they are special to God. In either case, this is a request that serves the illusions of the “self,” not God’s will.


Testing God. Some persons will pray for God to do something for them, such as “Make me stop smoking.” Such a request, however, is just a way to put God to the test in a no-win situation.
     On the one hand, if God really were to interfere with their free will and make them suddenly stop smoking, for example, then they would never have to come to terms with the underlying anger toward their parents that makes them continue smoking in the first place. Thus, if God gave them what they wanted, He would be denying them what they really need: spiritual purification from their anger and from their lack of forgiveness.
     On the other hand, if God does not give them what they want, then they can blame God for “hating” them. This will allow them to believe that there is something “wrong” with themselves, thus allowing them to continue to believe that they themselves were at fault for their parents abusing them—and this self-blame allows them to hide from themselves their anger at their parents: “I’m at fault, not my parents, so I have no right to be angry with them.” Moreover, all the while they can hate God for “hating” them. After all, hating God is a way to get punished, right? It goes to show how people will send themselves to hell in order to protect their parents from the parents’ faults and protect themselves from their own unconscious hatred of their parents.

In short, even though many persons will pray for divine inspiration, they have a deep unconscious resistance to opening the door when inspiration comes knocking. It’s like praying, “God, make me get strong,” and yet refusing to do the hard work of lifting the weights that will strengthen you.

Vocal Prayer and Mental Prayer

although vocal prayer (such as the Divine Office, the Rosary, and Mass) is a necessary part of Catholic life, without constant mental prayer as well it will not help much to heal you from your emotional wounds. Still, vocal prayer has a value.

Saint Teresa of Avila spoke constantly about the difference between vocal prayer and mental prayer. She also spoke very carefully about this difference. Because of the many abuses resulting from the illuminists—or alumbrados—of Teresa’s time, many theologians looked on mental prayer (or contemplative prayer) with suspicion, fearing that it would result in a contempt for vocal prayer (or liturgical prayer), along with a contempt for the Church tradition in general.

But, psychologically speaking, Saint Teresa got it right. All prayer, she said, begins with vocal prayer—such as the Our Father and the Hail Mary—and then, by meditating on the meaning of what is being said, even as it is being said, the soul will effectively be led to mental prayer. And not just that, but in the quiet moments between periods of vocal prayer—even while performing our daily work—the soul should be filled with contemplative mental prayer of pure, timeless love.

So, in regard to vocal prayer and mental prayer, it’s not a matter of either-or. When the soul struggles through darkness, it needs the beauty of mental prayer to cheer its heart and help it along. But it also needs the discipline of vocal prayer to keep it on the true path, lest it decide to chase off after fairy lights in the distance and be lost forever.


If you receive personal revelations in the form of apparitions (visual perceptions), Apparitions: Mystic Phenomena and What They Mean or locutions (auditory perceptions), be cautious. Mind you, I’m not speaking here of ordinary distractions or dreams.

For more information about various mystic phenomena, see Kevin Orlin Johnson’s book, Apparitions, on the Recommended Readings page.

Because you can be easily deceived—by your own unconscious and by demons, here are some warnings.

Sometimes these perceptions can be just your own thoughts—that is, wish fulfillments.

Sometimes these perceptions can be your own thoughts informed by natural wisdom that you have acquired unconsciously.

Sometimes these perceptions can be your own thoughts informed by supernatural wisdom; as long as this intuition is limited to knowledge about something rather than a command to do something, it can be spiritually safe, albeit unsettling. Just leave it to God and wait for confirmation. But if you are told to do something out of the ordinary, do not obey, because it is likely a demonic command. Seek guidance from a confessor.

Sometimes these perceptions can be the result of demonic caricatures of divine persons in their attempt to lead you astray through your own pride of believing yourself to be so “special” that saints and angels would appear to you and tell you what to do. 

Note carefully that if you begin to believe that these perceptions are a telepathic communication with another living person giving you directions through mental telepathy or through dreams, then you are on a collision course with a psychotic delusional disorder.[1]

You have only one protection against insanity and spiritual destruction:

Seek always to be humble, not special, and reject anything that contradicts Scripture or Tradition or the Magisterium (teaching) of the Church.


Prayer of the Heart

Saint Augustine, in one of his letters (Letter 130 to Proba 8, 15.17–9, 18), raised the question, “Why do we pray if God already knows what we need?”—and then he answered it: we pray to stretch our desire for God.

That’s a good answer, and a deepening of it, I think, comes if you read about the apparitions at Fátima. “Pray, and make sacrifices,” Mary told the children, making it clear to them that many souls go to their spiritual destruction because they have no one to pray for them. Imagine that. Pray, she warned, not just for ourselves, not just to stretch our desire to see God, not just to inflame our love of God—yes, we must do that constantly—but pray also for the souls in Purgatory and for others now living who might be lost without our prayers and sufferings—our sacrifices—on their behalf. Furthermore, our prayer for others also includes prayer for those who might be harmed by our sins, the very sins that arise in us because we fail to pray properly.


This point is often difficult for some persons to comprehend because they do not realize that both prayer and sin have mystical effects on other souls, not just practical effects in the material world.


So heed Our Lady’s warning and begin to pray properly.

Some Necessary Catholic Prayers
available as a booklet

The Sign of the Cross

The Sign of the Cross is a prayer in itself which should begin and end any other prayer in private devotion. It also has a place in liturgical celebration. If you watch people in church, however, you will often see them making the Sign of the Cross so hastily that they seem to be brushing flies away from their faces. Make the sign deliberately and with reverence, because it’s not some sentimental sign of the Trinity, it’s the Sign of the Cross; that is, when you do make the Sign of the Cross, you make an implicit agreement to take up your own cross by accepting—without protest or resentment—all suffering for the sake of the conversion of sinners. Whether you keep that agreement, well, only God knows. But you will be accountable for it on the day of your judgment. That thought should give you pause.








IN the Name of the Father


IN nómine Patris

and of the Son


et Fílii

and of the Holy

(Left Shoulder)

et Spíritus


(Right Shoulder)






Improvised Prayer

The best way to begin anything is with honesty, so you might want to say something such as, “OK. Here I am, God. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to do. I’m scared. Teach me. Guide me and protect me, and lead me to You.”

Remembering that Christ told us to pray constantly (Luke 18:1), so that the lovely garden of the Spirit He planted in you at baptism receives careful cultivation and does not go to weeds, do not be afraid to repeat your improvised prayers constantly.

Moreover, maintain a constant awareness of God’s presence by talking to God about everything you do, telling Him of your difficulties and frustrations, asking for His guidance, and doing everything for love of Him.

You might also want to add such supplications as the following.

God, teach me how to love You.

God, teach me how to trust You.

God, help me to recognize the false beliefs that work in me to obstruct my love for You.

God, teach me purity of heart that I might overcome my desire to sin.

O God, I’m so alone. Have mercy on me.

God, I don’t know what to do. Show me how to get through this.

Protect me, Lord, from the evil and perversion in this world.

The Jesus Prayer

With this short prayer you can sustain a process of constant prayer, so as to have a constant mindfulness of the presence of God.


LORD Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.

Say the prayer repeatedly moment-by-moment during your daily activities, interspersed with other mental and vocal prayers as you prefer.


You will often notice that no sooner will you start to pray than your mind will wander, and you will be off in your own thoughts. So, make a personal vow that once you realize that your mind has wandered from the prayer you will stop thinking and immediately return to the prayer. Don’t try to analyze how your thoughts drifted, and don’t berate yourself for getting distracted. Just immediately stop thinking and return to the prayer.


Catholic Mindfulness

Saying the Jesus Prayer with the specific intent of experiencing a relaxed and healing meditative mindfulness is a Catholic application of the psychological concept of mindfulness meditation. For clarification here keep in mind that this prayer has two aspects, a psychological one and a spiritual one, which should be distinguished and understood.


The Psychological Aspect. If you repeat in your mind any word or phrase, over and over, you can put a check on wandering thoughts. This in itself can bring you a sense of calmness and peace. The process is purely psychological, however, and does not depend on the meaning of the word or words you repeat. Such a psychological process is often called “centering prayer.”


The Spiritual Aspect. When said merely as an aid to relaxation, the Jesus Prayer remains in the mind, but when said as a true prayer it descends into the heart to engender a warm spiritual desire for divine love. Therefore, as you say the words of the prayer, turn your attention to your heart so as to allow an ardent love for God to fill it. Imagine yourself saying the words directly to Christ, as you would speak intimately to another person, and let your heart overflow with love. You will then find yourself engaged in six spiritual tasks: calling Jesus Lord; voicing the Holy Name of Jesus; acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah (i.e., Christ); acknowledging His divinity (i.e., Son of God); and asking for His mercy.

The practice of Catholic Mindfulness is a simple process: sit quietly, focus on your breathing, and without thinking of anything else pray the Jesus Prayer in its full spiritual aspect. In order to keep a focus on your breathing while reciting the Jesus Prayer, say the first part of the prayer as you slowly inhale, and then, as you slowly exhale, say the last part of the prayer.


[inhaling] Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God  /  [exhaling] have mercy on me.


Then keep repeating this process for as long as you want, preferably for about a half hour.

See my web page about Catholic Autogenics
to increase your self-awareness and trust in God


If you have a problem with waking up in the middle of the night (called insomnia in clinical terms), worrying about not sleeping will only deepen the insomnia. The psychological core of insomnia is your worrying about some impending matter such that you become trapped in obsessive thinking about the matter as you try to sleep. Many persons believe that they are experiencing some mysterious physiological problem when in actuality the problem is simply a matter of unrestrained thinking. The solution to insomnia, therefore, is to relinquish your fixation on thinking and then to trust that God will provide the guidance necessary to help you find your way through the trials and difficulties of life.

Therefore, follow these procedures:


When you lie in bed at night in preparation to sleep, realize that in sleep you are completely helpless in the world and that only a complete surrender to God will be of any protection. Therefore, make a deliberate commitment to surrender yourself to God’s protection.

To do this, lie in bed calmly, relax all your muscles, and repeat to yourself, “Into Your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.” But do it by coordinating the prayer with deep, calm, and regular breathing. Silently, in your mind, say the first part of the prayer while inhaling deeply, and then exhale deeply as you say the second part of the prayer.




Into Your hands, O Lord,


I commend my spirit

Make a disciplined effort to repeat this process over and over until you fall asleep, warding off any other thoughts. When thoughts try to intrude, do not allow yourself to dwell on them. If you do slip and lapse into them, immediately stop thinking about anything and return to the prayer and the deep breathing, until you fall asleep. Note that you may have to say the prayer for an hour at a time before you fall asleep, so be careful not to give up prematurely.


Whenever you wake up in the middle of the night and cannot immediately fall asleep again, then follow a process similar to the process of falling asleep initially, but it is often helpful to use shorter statements than when first falling asleep. You may use any of the following variations. Remember, though, that the prayers are not magical incantations whose efficacy depends on saying the exact words; rather, the efficacy of the prayer is in your intent.




Lord Jesus


have mercy.

Breathe deep


the holy grace.

In the following prayer, the sequence has been divided
into two alternating passages.

To you


O Lord,

I commend


my spirit.

As when you first go to bed, make a disciplined effort to repeat this process over and over until you fall asleep again, warding off any other thoughts. When thoughts try to intrude, do not allow yourself to dwell on them. If you do slip and lapse into them, immediately stop thinking about anything and return to the prayer and the deep breathing, until you fall asleep. Note that you may have to say the prayer for an hour at a time before you do fall asleep again, so be careful not to give up prematurely.

Formal Prayers

Before Eating

Say a short prayer before eating or drinking anything, even water, so as to remind yourself about your total dependence on God:


BLESS us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts
which we are about to receive
from Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord.

And, as you learn to eat a more austere diet, add the following to the above to increase your gratitude to God:

Thank You for such humble and simple food;
may it fulfill all our physical needs,
for without even Your most lowly of gifts
we would perish.


Be careful not to slur together the seven petitions of the Our Father (Matthew 6:9–13) like the “elemeno P” of the grammar school alphabet. Say this prayer slowly, carefully, and distinctly.



OUR Father, who art in Heaven,



hallowed be Thy Name,



Thy Kingdom come.



Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.



Give us this day our daily bread;



and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us;



and lead us not into temptation,



but deliver us from evil.

Read an excerpt from a letter by Saint Augustine
about the Lord’s Prayer



PATER noster, qui es in cœlis,
sanctificétur nomen tuum.
Advéniat regnum tuum.
Fiat volúntas tua,
sicut in cœlo et in terra.
Panem nostrum quotidiánum
  da nobis hódie.
Et dimítte nobis débita nostra,
  sicut et nos dimíttimus
  debitóribus nostris.
Et ne nos indúcas in tentatiónem:
sed líbera nos a malo. Amen.



HAIL, Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with thee;
blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.



AVE María, grátia plena!
Dóminus tecum.
Benedícta tu in muliéribus,
et benedíctus fructus
  ventris tui, Iesus!
Sancta María, Mater Dei,
ora pro nobis peccatóribus
nunc et in hora mortis nostræ.



GLORY be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
R. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.



GLORIA Patri, et Fílio, et Spíritui Sancto.
R. Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc et semper, et in saécula sæculórum. Amen.



SAINT Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle;
be our protection against the wickedness and
   snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him,
we humbly pray:
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God,
cast into hell
Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls.



The prayers that follow are traditional prayers (also see the Prayer Menu of this website), but I have altered some of the texts to make the language and ideas more psychologically clear and direct. The underlying idea of these prayers is to purge yourself of your own desires and to learn to listen to divine guidance. You learn to pray, after all, by praying. 


(Peace Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi)

LORD, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, let me sow pardon;
Where there is doubt, let me sow faith;
Where there is despair, let me sow hope;
Where there is darkness, let me sow light;
Where there is sadness, let me sow joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may seek
Not so much to be consoled as to console;
not so much to be understood as to understand;
not so much to be loved as to love;
not so much to be seen as to see You in all things.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
it is in dying that we are born to everlasting life.


MEMORARE (with my own adaptations)

I REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known
that anyone who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help,
or sought thy intercession
was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence,
I fly unto thee,
O Virgin of Virgins, my Mother.
To thee I come;
before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
look kindly upon my petitions,
and in thy mercy hear and answer me.



ANIMA CHRISTI (with my own adaptations)

SOUL of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O good Jesus, hear me.
Within Your wounds hide me.
Do not permit me to be separated from You.
From the malignant enemy defend me.
In the hour of my death call me.
And bid me come to You,
That with Your saints I may praise You
Through the ages of the ages.


ANIMA Christi, sanctífica me.
Corpus Christi, salva me.
Sanguis Christi, inébria me.
Aqua láteris Christi, lava me.
Pássio Christi, confórta me.
O bone Iesu, exáudi me.
Intra tua vúlnera abscónde me.
Ne permíttas me separári a te.
Ab hoste malígno defénde me.
In hora mortis meæ voca me.
Et iube me veníre ad te,
Ut cum Sanctis tuis laudem te
In saécula sæculórum.


And here’s one prayer (i.e., song) of my own.

SHALL I taste the sweetness of Your splendor
In a world of bitter strife?
Shall I hear the silence of Your glory
In a world of raucous din?
Shall I smell the fragrance of Your beauty
In a world of foul decay?
Shall I see the fullness of Your visage
In a world of empty show?
Shall I feel the ardor of Your presence
In a world grown cold and rude?
Shall I know Your loving and Your mercy
As my senses cry in pain,
   by sorrow torn apart?
Yes, I shall, if only in my sadness
I will learn to seek Your Heart,
   Your broken, Sacred Heart.


Exorcism is a formal process by which a priest exorcist—i.e., a priest who has been appointed by his bishop to practice as an exorcist—uses ritual prayers to cast a demon out of a person’s body.

Deliverance prayer, however, is an informal process by which any priest can say prayers to cast spirits away from someone; in this process, the priest commands a spirit that has been harassing a person (but not possessing that person) to cease the harassment and leave the person in peace. 

although lay persons cannot, through their own authority, command spirits, lay persons can pray with you or for you to help push demons away from you.


Be careful to ensure that any lay person simply prays with you, not over you. If a lay person prays over you (such as by holding hands over you, laying hands on you, breathing on you, etc.), then you can be infected, psychologically and spiritually, with spirits of that person’s unconscious sins. [2] In regard to lay men and women involved in deliverance ministry, these unconscious sins are commonly anger and lust in the lay persons’ personal lives; their desire to “be in control”; and their pride of thinking of themselves, because of their ministry, as being important, special, and/or favored by God.

You can also use deliverance prayer by yourself, for your own deliverance. In this case you don’t command a spirit, you renounce the influence it has on you. 

Note that you cannot bind a spirit through your own authority. Only a priest can bind a spirit through his authority as a priest. Through your love for God, however, you can “bind” spirits when you say, “Because of my love for God, I reject the temptations of any spirits.” That is, when your love for God makes you disinterested in evil temptations, you deprive spirits of their power over you—and so it can be said that this disinterest effectively “binds” the spirits’ evil power over you.


And don’t even dare to believe that you can rebuke a demon. No human, not even a bishop-appointed exorcist, has that authority. Even the angels will not rebuke demons. [3] God, and God alone has the authority to rebuke demons. 

Just keep in mind that even though an exorcist can cast demons out of you, and even though a priest or lay persons can push demonic influence away from you, only you have the ability to cast demonic influence from your heart. Thus, in every moment of your life, with deliverance prayer you must immediately renounce every temptation that arises in your heart. If you don’t renounce it immediately, the temptation can easily overpower you. 

A Simple Deliverance Prayer for Yourself

When we experience an emotional or physiological wound, demonic spirits can attach themselves to the wound to obstruct or discourage healing.[4] Therefore, when your healing from a physical or emotional wound seems prolonged or problematic, pray for deliverance from any harmful spirit (i.e., demon) that may be attached to any of the following physical, psychological, or spiritual experiences. 


IN the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I renounce the spirit of [addictions, anger, anxiety, apathy, blame, bodily pains, competition, complaining, defiance, demoralization, depression, despair, disbelief, discouragement, disobedience, distrust, doubt, dread, entitlement, envy, erotic fantasies, fatigue, fear, frustration, gluttony, gossip, hate, illness, immodesty, impatience, impiety, ingratitude, insecurity, insolence, irreverence, jealousy, loneliness, lust, lying, marijuana, masturbation, negativity, oppression, panic, pornography, pride, procrastination, rage, rumination, self-blame, self-hate, self-punishment, sensuality, shame, social acceptance, social pressure, sports, stress, strife, terror, tobacco, vengeance, victimization, violence, weariness, worrying, worthlessness, wretchedness, etc.] and the hold [5] it has over me.
   And I ask our Lord Jesus to send it to the foot of the Cross.

Repeat as often as needed for any of these or other spirits.



Prayer for Deliverance from the Tyranny of Evil 
includes this deliverance prayer formula on its back page 

A Similar Deliverance Prayer for False Beliefs


IN the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I renounce the false beliefs [specify] and the unhealthy behaviors [specify] to which I am prone and the hold they have over me; and I affirm the true beliefs [specify] and the healthy behaviors [specify] which I intend to carry out.



Prayer for Deliverance from the Tyranny of False Beliefs 

Praying for Continuing Protection

A particularly powerful method of prayer for dedicated, continuing protection is to combine the Jesus Prayer (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me) with deliverance prayers. To do this, take time to sit (or stand) quietly and pray a decade of Jesus Prayers and then pray a variation of the deliverance prayer most suited to your needs. Continue praying another decade of Jesus Prayers, and then pray another variation of the deliverance prayer—and so on. You can do this easily with an Orthodox knotted prayer rope that has a bead between every ten knots; pray Jesus Prayers on the knots and a deliverance prayer on the beads. alternatively, you can use Rosary beads, praying a Jesus Prayer on each of the Hail Mary beads and one variation of the deliverance prayer on each of the Our Father beads. One circuit around a hundred knot prayer rope or two circuits around the Rosary beads will be optimal.


Saint Michael MedalAccording to tradition, a Carmelite nun received a private revelation (time unknown) from Saint Michael the Archangel about praying the chaplet. although the Catholic Church approved the prayer in 1851, I have found theological, psychological, and grammatical errors in the text of the chaplet.

Therefore, my adapted version of this prayer is not only theologically and psychologically improved but also it is more concise, so that it can be prayed in less time, thus allowing it to be prayed more spontaneously and more frequently than the original version.


Miraculous MedalLike the angels, Mary had free will, and in her conception she was given the grace, like the angels, to be free of the desire to commit sin. Unlike Mary, the rest of humanity, in its state of original sin, is afflicted with the desire to commit sin, and so, for the sake of our salvation, we must endeavor always to renounce that unholy desire which lurks deep in the heart of our fallen being. Keeping the medal of the Blessed Virgin over our hearts gives us assistance in our battle of renouncing sin and evil.

So wear the Miraculous Medal around your neck at all times as a seal upon your heart; having it on your Rosary beads misses the point. The chain for the medal, therefore, should be long enough to keep the medal over your heart, rather than over your throat as a piece of jewelry. And say its prayer many times a day:
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.


In the Angelus, we are reminded how Mary became a model for us in totally surrendering her will to God’s will. With her simple and humble Fiat (Latin for “let it be done”), she offered herself to God in unquestioning obedience.

So, pray the Angelus (or the Regina Caeli during the Paschal Season—that is, from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday)—every day at noon, if not also at the traditional times of 6:00 AM and 6:00 PM. Set the alarm on your watch for 11:59 AM to remind you to stop whatever you are doing. It may seem like a nuisance to stop work to pray, so just remember that if it weren’t for God, you wouldn’t have any work in the first place.

Step-by-step instructions for praying
The Angelus (and Regina Caeli)


Pray the Rosary—at least five decades (that is, one group of Mysteries)—each day, if possible. The Blessed Virgin herself told the children at Fátima to pray the Rosary every day for peace in the world and for the conversion of sinners. How can we, then, in our troubled times, fail to pray as ardently today?

An ideal time for this prayer is in the evening after dinner, just when most persons waste their time watching TV. If you have children, pray the rosary with them; a young child can sit in your lap for bonding time, and older children can pray along with you.

Rosary: Mysteries, Meditations, and the Telling of the BeadsThe Rosary requires meditation on some central Christian mysteries, so you will first have to learn the nature of these mysteries. I recommend the following book:

Rosary: Mysteries, Meditations, and the Telling of the Beads (Dallas: Pangæus Press, 1996) by Kevin Orlin Johnson.



Step-by-step instructions for praying
The Rosary


The Chaplet of The Divine Mercy was given to Saint Faustina (see her Diary) as a pledge that any soul that sees and realizes the gravity of its sins, and finds itself therefore immersed in misery, should not despair, but should, with child-like trust, throw itself into the arms of Christ’s mercy. And it offers grace and hope to even the most hardened of sinners (cf. Diary, 1541).

Petitioners who pray the Chaplet request mercy on the whole world and, in the process, perform a work of mercy themselves.

Saint Faustina was also told that if the Chaplet were said by the bedside of a dying person, “unfathomable mercy envelops the soul” and “the very depths” of God’s “tender mercy are moved” for the sake of Christ’s sorrowful Passion (Diary, 811; 1541).

The Chaplet is such a concise and compact prayer that you should learn to recite it as often as you can, in all moments of “spare” time: while you’re driving (or stuck in traffic), riding the bus, walking from one place to another, and so on. And, if you get a small Rosary ring, you can pray just one decade of the Chaplet throughout the day, as a way to take mini breaks from work (forget the cigarettes and coffee).


Step-by-step instructions for praying
The Chaplet of The Divine Mercy


Jesus told Saint Faustina, “I remind you, My daughter, that as often as you hear the clock strike the third hour, immerse yourself completely in My mercy, adoring and glorifying it; invoke its omnipotence for the whole world, and particularly for poor sinners; for at that moment mercy was opened wide for every soul. . . . try your best to make the Stations of the Cross in this hour” (Diary, 1572).


Step-by-step instructions for praying
The 3’O Clock Prayer


The Liturgy of the Hours (or Divine Office) is an ancient form of prayer that combines psalms, readings, and other prayers and intercessions. It can be obligatory according to the rule of many religious orders, but it is just as well an important voluntary form of prayer for the laity.

The modern version of the Liturgy of the Hours is found in either a one-volume edition or a four-volume edition and consists of the Office of Readings, Morning Prayer, Daily Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Night Prayer.

The one-volume edition, called Christian Prayer, has

an abbreviated Office of Readings;

an abbreviated Daily Prayer.

Every layperson who desires a rich prayer life should, at a minimum, read the Office of Readings and the Morning Prayer.

Learning to use the Liturgy of the Hours can be a daunting task because the daily texts change according to various holy days and seasons.

Just follow very carefully the General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours (found in Volume 1 of the four-volume set) and the instructions in the section called the Ordinary (found in each volume).

Use the Saint Joseph Guide for the Liturgy of the Hours (a small booklet that serves the entire year, available in any good Catholic bookstore, or directly from the publisher) as a valuable help for locating the correct sections to use each day.


Step-by-step instructions for praying
The Liturgy of the Hours


Who wrote this web page?


1. Delusions are false beliefs about reality that seem so real to a person that the beliefs are maintained despite rational proof or evidence to the contrary. In many cases, delusions tend to be “encapsulated;” that is, a person afflicted with delusions can, in most respects, seem perfectly normal to others and only in regard to the specific delusions will anything seem to be unusual.

Here are examples of various types of delusions:

You believe that you are being obstructed, attacked, or conspired against by others. In many instances, these paranoid delusions result when you misinterpret ordinary daily events as being specifically directed against you. For example, if someone bumps into you accidentally, you can falsely believe that the person has deliberately tried to implant something evil into you. Or if someone parks next to your car while you are talking on your mobile phone, you can falsely believe that you are being followed and that your conversation is being recorded.

You believe that another person is communicating with you through mental telepathy and is trying to control you with secret commands. Such delusions can result when you misunderstand unconscious processes, such as an inner voice of guilt for secret sins.

You believe that requests or demands of you are being given to you through your dreams. Such delusions can result when you misunderstand the process by which dreams can reveal inner truths about yourself.

Note that finding help in coping with the distress of delusions can be problematic because delusions, which result from false perceptions, can easily be confused with actual spiritual experiences resulting from witchcraft or demonic oppression. Nevertheless, regardless of whether your distress is psychological (a matter of your own misperceptions of external events or a misunderstanding of unconscious processes) or social (a matter of someone’s hatred for you) or spiritual (a matter of witchcraft or demonic attack), it’s important only that you renounce the experience and refuse to fear it or obsess about it. Your protection does not depend on your trying to stop another person from attacking or persecuting you, nor does it depend on your trying to prosecute the other person for a crime; your protection is a matter of your refusing to fall into fear or anger, and therefore your protection depends on your trusting in God to protect you from any evil.

Therefore, if you experience distress from what seem to be telepathic communications from others, say to yourself, “Let them do what they want; it’s of no concern to me. God will protect me.” 

If you experience dreams about living persons making requests or demands of you, refuse to comply with any demands you perceive and make yourself wake up to break the hold of the dream by praying to the Blessed Virgin and to Saint Michael for protection. Note, however, that if you dream about requests or demands from spiritual entities, first refuse to comply with any demands you perceive and then seek guidance from a spiritual director. Remember, God’s will cannot be thwarted, so even if the demand is legitimate your delaying in complying with it until you can be certain of its legitimacy does no harm to God. 

2. Note that by virtue of his holy orders any priest has authority over demonic powers and that his authority is not affected by his personal sanctity. Thus any priest can pray over you for deliverance from evil spirits. Lay persons can safely pray with you or for you while praying for your deliverance, but lay persons should not pray over you, whether by laying on of hands, by holding their hands over you, or by breathing on you. Why? Well, lay authority over demons derives only from personal faith, and, because most lay persons lack total purity of heart, during the process of their praying over you the diabolical effects of their unconscious sins can infect you. Not only can a lay person contaminate you spiritually with his or her own moral impurity, but also that person’s personal hellgate (an opening to demonic influence) can open up a hellgate in you. The most dangerous unconscious sins are lust and anger, while pride, fear, anxiety, doubt, and disobedience are prevalent in many Catholics today. Sadly, most Catholics, even most priests, do not understand the spiritual danger of unconscious sins. 

3. See Interview with an Exorcist, p.70–71.  

4. See Interview with an Exorcist, p.95.  

5. If you experience anything that seems to be a curse, ignore the curse and pray for deliverance from the symptoms the curse is causing. Remember that it does not matter who you may believe has placed the curse on you—just focus on your own deliverance prayers; pray contemplatively throughout the day; use exorcised holy water; keep a Crucifix and an image of the Blessed Virgin in your living space; attend Mass frequently; also, if possible, seek out a priest exorcist to pray a prayer of deliverance (see Interview with an Exorcist, p.112–113).


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