St Francis did not provide his Friars with any road map or formal treatise on prayer but as he counselled in the Rule of 1223: “above all things they should desire to have the Spirit of the Lord and His holy operation and to pray always to Him with a pure heart.”
As consecrated Religious in the Church he wanted us to recite together the daily Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office), and to participate in the Holy Eucharist as do all Catholic Christians. And he himself, whilst on his preaching missions, made a point of stopping to pray the Liturgy of the Hours and of seeking out churches at which to hear Mass sung and offered.
In the fraternities of the Custody the Friars gather daily to recite morning and evening prayer and to celebrate the Eucharist. Each fraternity is at liberty to choose which parts of the Liturgy of the Hours are to be said together and which in private. And wherever we pray – in our friaries, oratories or churches – the lay faithful are able to join us in our worship and praise of God.
As with Jesus and the apostles, the Franciscan life of prayer is both personal and communal: St Francis prayed alone and with his brothers. And because Franciscan prayer is focused on the person of Jesus it is affective – it is prayer of the heart. Our Statutes makes provision for daily mental prayer, a monthly day of recollection and an annual retreat of five days.