Catholic School Awaken Greatness

Finding Time to Pray Together as a Family

March 04, 2016

Today’s families have never been busier. Work, school, sports, and other activities make it seem like there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done.

praying together.jpgMost parents will tell you that they would like nothing more than to pray together as a family, but aligning busy schedules and carving out the time to do so sometimes seems like an insurmountable task. The fact that parents desire family prayer time is a good sign, however. After all, where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Many Catholic adults remember a time when their family knelt down together to pray the Rosary each evening. While times have certainly changed, it is still important to carve out this sacred time for family prayer. In fact, it may be more important in today’s world. As St. Francis de Sales said, “Every Christian needs a half-hour of prayer each day, except when he is busy, then he needs an hour.”

If you believe that you simply can’t take the time to pray together as a family, think about how many times you have been able to fit in an extra sports practice or birthday party. The fact is, you will always make time for what is most important to you, and your children will pick up on this. Therefore, the more emphasis you put on praying together as a family, the more emphasis your children will place on it, as well.

Prayer can literally transform how children see the world. When families pray together, their children come to know prayer as more than an opportunity to ask for the things that they want. Rather, they see prayer as a fortress during life’s many storms. Prayer allows them to experience the comfort of knowing that God is always at their side and they will never be alone.

Of course, it takes time for children to understand the transformative power of prayer. Even Mother Teresa admitted she had to learn this lesson over time.

“I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us and we change things,” Mother Teresa said.

Like any other habit, the first step is often the most difficult. Sometimes families spend so much energy trying to schedule a time and decide on a format for family prayer that they become overwhelmed and give up. This is the wrong way to approach prayer, however. Instead, as Fr. John Norman from Christ the King Parish in Omaha says, you need to approach it like Nike and “Just Do It.”

While formal prayer, like saying the Rosary or reading Bible verses, is important, there are other ways to bring prayer into your family life. According to Pope Francis, the sign of the cross, grace before meals, and realizing that God is always with your family will help.

“A heart filled with affection for God can turn even a thought without words into a prayer,” Pope Francis said.

So what are some ways you can enhance the prayer life of your family?  What follows are some ideas that will help you pray together as a family, regardless of your busy schedule and hectic lifestyle.

  • Did your child win a special award at school or score a goal during a soccer game? A quick prayer of thanks is always in order.
  • Is your child worried about an upcoming dentist appointment or difficult test? Sit down with your child and together ask Jesus to stay close to him or her during this trial.
  • Get to know your saints. Is your family getting ready to welcome a new brother or sister? Spend some time as a family to research the patron saint of babies and infants and pray to that saint every night as a family for the health of this child. (FYI: It’s St. Philomena!)
  • Want to do something special for a neighbor or loved one who is going through a crisis? A spiritual bouquet is a wonderful gift way to show you care. For example, pray 10 Our Fathers each night for someone who has been diagnosed with a serious illness or has experienced a job loss.
  • Have each child write a prayer that the family will say as a whole. Younger children especially love this ritual.
  • Let each member of the family take a turn leading the Rosary.
  • See God in nature. When taking walks, stop to notice plants, flowers, and animals. Discuss how awesome God is to have created such beauty.
  • Kids love stories, especially at bedtime, so tales from the Bible are a great option for younger children. For older tweens and teens, daily mediation books are a great resource. Challenge by Mark Link, S.J., based on the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius, is a wonderful resource. Read alone or aloud, the short stories and mediations in the book spark new ways to look at real-life situations. The stories can also spark discussions between a parent and child or allow for quiet reflection.
  • Create a prayer jar. Keep a jar where it is easily accessible and place a pen and slips of paper near it. When someone has a prayer intention they can write it down and put it in the jar. During family prayer time, each person chooses a slip of paper from the jar and the family prays together for that intention.
  • Older children who are interested in politics or current events may enjoy looking through the newspaper and choose a region of the nation or world that is especially in need of prayers. Offer up a decade of the Rosary for a group of people – for example, refugees – who are experiencing suffering or trials.

Like anything else, children model their parents. The more your child sees you praying, the more they will come to see prayer as a normal part of life. And while it may seem cliché, Fr. Patrick Peyton was correct when he said that, “The family that prays together stays together.”

 



Category: Faith

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