Just for Today: Practicing Virtue in Prayer

Young adults knelt in prayer during massAs I neared college graduation earlier this year, I found myself in a state of constant restlessness and uncertainty. I had no idea what the next chapter in my life held. This, combined with the devastation of multiple recent family tragedies, was a heavy cross for me to bear.

On Good Friday, when I felt the weight of all these crosses the most, I rediscovered a prayer that my friend had given me. The prayer is titled “Just for Today”:

Just for today I will not worry. I will not be angry. I will be kind to every living thing. I will do my work honestly. I will be compassionate and forgiving. I will find joy even in the smallest of life’s gifts. Just for today, I will feel at peace.

This simple prayer made me realize that the best thing I can do about the uncertain future is to live in the present as best I can. I can choose to either live today in worry or in a way that I would be satisfied with should it be my last. The prayer inspired me to practice the virtues it presents in a concrete way and to live each day well, despite the things that I can’t control.

RELATED: Praying for Patience: What I Learned From God’s Time vs. My Own


Recently, I started a job as a journalist for a pro-life media outlet. Researching and writing about people defending abortion constantly tests my trust in the hope of the Resurrection. To combat this, I offer two prayers which provide the comfort of God’s love and help me to strengthen my faith in him.

The Litany of Trust is one that I recommend saying at the beginning of the day, as part of your morning offering. It is a great way to tell God right from the start that you are placing your trust in him, no matter what the day brings. I am also a fan of the Surrender Novena. This is one that I like to pray at night, when I struggle to let go of all my worries and rest. In it, Jesus speaks to each of us with a love so deep that it is hard not to find comfort in his words. 

Trust is hard. But I have found that when I don’t actively pursue it, I am always in a state of greater worry and frustration.

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When my brother decided last summer that he could no longer be around my family, I thought I would never be able to let it go. It was too personal, too tragic and painful a loss to simply leave it in the past. But then I realized that forgiveness isn’t a one-time thing. Whenever someone hurts us deeply, forgiveness becomes a recurring act. Avoiding gossip about the person who has hurt us, intentionally choosing to move on with life and not get caught living in the past, and praying for those who have hurt us are all critically important ways to practice forgiveness. I only speak about how someone has wounded me when it is necessary and prudent (this depends on each situation, of course). My attention is geared towards what I am doing and who I am with today, not what happened in the past. And every night, I pray for those who have hurt me by name. This habit has taught me that praying for my enemies is an act of charity that they cannot refuse. They may never know that I am doing it, but that allows for more growth, because if it is unknown to them, I cannot expect them to respond in the same way. My brother may never speak to me again, but praying for him softens my heart so that bitterness and anger do not overtake the love that God is longing to place there. 

LISTEN: Fatherly Advice: Forgiving Someone Who’s Hurt You Deeply

Finding joy

Life is hard. But it’s much harder if I don’t allow myself to embrace the good that rides alongside the struggle. I often find this joy through having dinner with my family or driving through the mountains listening to music. God gives me these moments so that I can find joy even amid the trials of daily life. I try not to let them go to waste.

Practicing virtue isn’t a short or easy task. But “Just for Today” reminds me that it is a daily commitment, and no matter how many times I fall, I can start again. God sees my efforts. He never forgets my attempts to grow in virtue so that I may join him in Heaven.