Thursday, August 26, 2010

Some Thoughts on Family Prayer

prayer A lot of families pray at meals. Some families pray at night before the kids go to bed, especially when the children are young.

Often family prayer falls by the wayside at the critical moments of a young person’s life when it is needed most. If we want our kids to pray, we have to pray. We have to show them by our example that we really believe in prayer. I read some place that strong moments of shared family prayer were one of the best ways to bring one’s children to faith and keep them Catholic. It makes so much sense doesn’t it? I believe that a family that prays together and goes to Church together will have a much better quality of life. At Catholic University some of the students most involved in the life of the Church casually spoke about family prayer as if it was a given in everyone’s life.

I would like to propose to you 4 moments of family prayer... Some of you are thinking, “Oh for heaven sake. Is he out of his mind? We’re too busy already ?” Don’t stop reading hear me out.

Wouldn’t it be great if, before everyone left the house, there was a brief moment, maybe even a quick huddle if you will, with a prayer like “Lord thank you for this day, please help us make good choices and return us all home safe and sound Amen.” Maybe just Mom and Dad could say it. Maybe you could say it in the car as you drive the kids to school. Whatever the case might be, I’m not talking about an hour long novena in the morning. All that is needed is a moment, a simple moment together as a family, together with the Lord.

What about expanding our evening meal prayer together. Hopefully, some people still have an evening meal together (more on that another time). I would propose in addition to the traditional “Bless us oh Lord and these thy gifts which we are about to receive…” what if each member of the family added a petition for some need they felt, or maybe someone could add a prayer of thanksgiving for a grace received that day. What a beautiful way to start a meal and what a beautiful window into the heart of your family.

And what about trying to gather everyone together before the littlest one goes to sleep. I know… I know easier said than done. Here is another opportunity for a short prayer, a moment of thanksgiving, maybe even just a Hail Mary. You know the whole Church finishes it’s day with a hymn to Our Lady every night. Why not join your prayer with the whole Church and do the same.

Finally, I would propose that as you and your spouse go to bed, before you nod off after a long day, that you pray together. Some of you are thinking, “We have never done that Father Robert.” Why not give it a try? If a husband and wife can’t pray with each other, who can they pray with? I repeat… If a husband and wife can’t pray with each other, who can you pray with. When you pray before you go to sleep, nothing elaborate or drawn out is needed. As you lay there you could simply say the name of each of your children, then either in the silence of your heart (the chicken’s way out) or out loud, you could pray for that Child. Ask God to bless and protect them, ask God to help you figure out how to love them more and parent them as he would have you do. You can also add other petitions. If one of you is a night owl and the other one a sleepy head, why not stop what you are doing and pray before the first one goes to bed. Radical you think? Is it really radical to pray with your spouse or your kids ?: By the way Grand parents can pray for their children and grandchildren in just the same way. I can hear it already, “For heaven sakes Fr. Robert, we’ve been married 40 years and now she wants to start praying together! Thanks a million.” My response will be after 40 years you should know to be quiet and do as you’re told (just kidding). All I can say is if your priest doesn’t call you to prayer, who will?

When we begin to insert little moments of prayer in our lives beyond the “Lord find me a parking space…” or “Give me some good numbers Lord,” or whatever, our life will be changed. By inserting little moments of prayer throughout your day it reminds us that we continually live in the loving presence of God.

I know what I am asking may seem crazy to some of you. I know that once relationships and family routines are established, it is really hard to change them. I know that many of you might have already stopped reading, thinking to yourself “this is too much”. All I can say to that is …

Jesus said,

“Ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be open to you.” Let’s take him at His Word and give it a try. I’ll be praying for you this week

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