Praying as a Family
Praying as a family is not something that comes easily to everyone. In fact, a recent study of young Catholic families found that seventy-six percent of parents pray mostly as individuals rather than with family. This is particularly striking when paired with the finding from a similar report that found that eighty-five percent of Catholic parents are likely to watch television with their family while only fifteen percent are more likely to watch alone. In short, families are far more likely to watch television together than they are to pray together.
There is good reason to put in the effort when it comes to family prayer. Not only does a rich faith life lead to happiness, but God wants to richly bless your family. Family prayer opens it to the great graces God has in store for you.
Speaking on the importance of family prayer, in his document “On the Value and Inviolability of Human Life,” St. Pope John Paul II wrote:
The family celebrates the Gospel of life through daily prayer, both individual prayer and family prayer. The family prays in order to glorify and give thanks to God for the gift of life, and implores his light and strength in order to face times of difficulty and suffering without losing hope. But the celebration which gives meaning to every other form of prayer and worship is found in the family's actual daily life together, if it is a life of love and self-giving. (no. 93)
So, prayer need not be difficult. In addition to attending Sunday Mass, praying at mealtime, and other forms of prayer, a family can pray simply by living charitably among one another.
If you are looking for further information or particular ideas to help develop a culture of prayer in the home, check out the links below.
5 Simple Ways to Pray as a Family
5 Simple Ways to Pray as a Family (in addition to the essentials: Mass, Scripture reading, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the rosary, Penance and Reconciliation, etc.)
Pray at meal time: Make the sign of the Cross and have the kids simply say, “Thank you, Jesus.” Or, you may say the “Bless us O Lord…” prayer, or whatever other words of thanks to God may be on your heart! These are great reminders for the whole family, about where all good things ultimately come from.
Bless each other: Parents can offer a blessing by tracing the sign of the cross on their children’s foreheads, and children can return the favor. This simple practice welcomes God into your relationships and reminds all that “our” family belongs to God.
Wonder at Creation: Help your children to recognize and adore the glory of God in all things: in the ocean; the night sky; the forest; etc. The awe experienced through His creation can point the family toward God and help to appreciate His power, goodness, and love.
Say sorry: When you or your children find yourselves in a situation that requires an apology as remedy, be sure to apologize to God, as well. This will help the family remember its duty to live well in relation to both God and neighbor.
Pray through joys and sorrows: Families can pray together in thanksgiving for a good day and for God’s help in difficult times. Praying through both good and bad reminds the family of God’s presence and that he answers all prayers as He sees fit.
4 Creative Ways to Pray Daily
Here is a brief and very practical article by Becky Eldredge, an author and a mother of three young children, that highlights four ways families and households can help children make prayer a part of their life.
Prayer in Family Life
Over the last few months, I’ve had the opportunity to be with many groups discussing my book, Busy Lives & Restless Souls. Inevitably, after discussing how to make time for prayer in each person’s life, the conversation turns to, “How do we incorporate prayer in our family’s life?”
I always chuckle and say, “I am not expert in how to incorporate prayer in family life, since so much of what we do is figuring it out as we go.”
Our family uses a core value statement to guide our desire to make prayer part of our family life: As a family, we seek to root our life in God. This principle, combined with the understanding that we are the primary educators of our children’s faith, is our catalyst for building a foundation of prayer in our children’s lives. Our goal is to teach our children a wide variety of prayer tools that they can hopefully use throughout their lives.
Here are four ways we help our children build a prayer toolbox:
Christian Music: Our family enjoys music, and one of the varieties of music we expose our children to is Christian music. There are playlists on our phones that include our family favorites, and as we discover new selections we add them to the rotation.
Prayer Box: We take turns leading night prayer in our family. Recently, we made a prayer box that includes prayer tools and resources such as books (prayer books, storybooks, and books on saints), candles, paper and pencils, a Bible, rosaries, question cards, and a prayer cube. (The child rolls this cube that has prayers on each side and says the prayer on the side on which it lands.) The prayer box helps whomever is leading prayer have resources to lead.
Prayer Bowl: A family member gave us a prayer bowl to collect small cards on which we write our intentions for other people. We remember the intentions as part of our prayer.
Prayer Methods: My husband and I try to expose our children to various prayer methods including spontaneous prayer, memorized prayer, praying the Rosary, reading the Bible, listening to music, praying for others, and even praying the Examen.
Our children’s ability to participate and lead prayer matures as they get older. Giving them the chance to lead prayer increases their buy-in and also expands our repertoire of prayer methods we utilize in our family.
As a mother, I’m very curious to hear from others: What do you do to incorporate prayer in family life?
This article was originally published on Ignatianspirituality.com.
More Ways to Pray
Pray with daily Mass at home
How to pray the rosary, USCCB
How to pray the divine mercy chaplet, USCCB
Family prayers at Catholic Online
A Novena to the Holy Family
Practical ways to pray as a family