Before I dive in, I want to say, my husband has always been the one to lead the charge in our family’s prayer life. I wouldn’t consider myself an expert in the world of prayer – especially leading it, at that. So before you read on, I want to simply encourage you. You don’t have to feel like you know what you’re doing. Sure, have an overall vision for what you’d like your family prayer time to look like… but what’s more important is that you simply do it, and do it consistently. Don’t let any hesitancies or your own fear hold you back from sharing prayer with your family – especially your children! My personal prayer life is growing and evolving each day. If we had waited until I felt comfortable, we wouldn’t have started yet! How our family has implemented prayer is just one of many ways to do so. Just start – you got this!

When my husband and I had our first child five years ago, of course we knew that one day, we’d pray with him. I can’t remember the exact age our son was when we finally decided to implement praying with him, but it was before the age of two. It started with simply praying after bath, right before putting him to sleep for the night. We sat on our couch, and then my husband said a short prayer on behalf of all of us. Then I joined in with my husband to say the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be. That simple method evolved somewhat quickly. I found myself thinking “our son should see me offering intentions and praying as well”. So I started offering a short prayer as well. 

As time went on, our two-year-old son started to attempt the Sign of the Cross, would say names of people he was familiar with, prayed for “baby in mommy’s tummy”, and would (on rare occasions) hold his hands together for even just a few seconds while we prayed. We felt like God was giving us little graces as we kept praying, even on the nights he couldn’t sit still.

My husband also started to read our son Bible stories every night after dinner while I cleaned up the kitchen. He would (and still does) read the same five or six stories for a week, and then move on to new stories every Monday night – progressing through the entire children’s Bible. 

Our daughter was born, and naturally, we continued prayer time before bed. It continued mostly the same – my husband saying his intentions, I saying mine, our son saying what he felt needed to be said, and then saying the three of the scripted prayers all Catholics know. 

Eventually, our son started to get a few words here and there of the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be. He also mastered the Sign of the Cross. THAT was an exciting time. Our daughter started to have something to say, too – not always relevant to prayer! 

We fell into a routine which we felt was helpful. Bath, pray, bed. Every day. Our routine started to become just that, though – routine. At some point, both my husband and I started adding more intentions. Praying for specific priests, praying for people other than family and friends, praying for our Church… basically, adding in intentions that weren’t just a “given”. We, of course, had people we prayed for routinely, but I think it could be explained as we simply started letting the spirit guide us more. Our kids slowly caught on to that as well.

Skip ahead to about five months ago. My husband is now working from home. So now, we have decided to implement morning prayer to start our day with God. We wake up roughly around the same time (most days he and the kids are patiently waiting for me to get my pregnant-self out of bed), we go to the couch, and we pray together. Before anything else. We each start by saying what we would like Jesus to help us with that day. Our kids say something along the lines of “to listen, to share, to be nice, to be a good boy/girl”. My husband and I share, as well, what we need help with. I’ve found that this has helped me know what his focus is for the day, and he knows mine. We then each say who we specifically want to pray for. Then we say “Good Morning Jesus! We love you, Jesus!” My husband then wraps up all of our prayers into one large request to God, followed by “Saint (of the day), pray for us!” On the days where there is no patron Saint of the day, we have started saying (at the request of our son), “St. Paul, pray for us!” Then we go about our day, trying our best to let God work in our home – wrapping up our day back on the couch, praying together again. This time, it’s saying what we are thankful for from that day, who we want to pray for, the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be. As we tuck our kids into bed, we say “Night Night Jesus! We love you Jesus!”

We also started to add a minute of silence after my husband reads our children the Bible stories of the week. This is RARELY a perfectly quiet minute. But it forces our kids to sit, and do nothing. They’re supposed to be praying. But often it’s my husband and I sitting with our eyes closed attempting to pray, while our daughter whispers song lyrics stuck in her head or our son wiggles in his seat. There’s been a lot of good to come from all of us sitting quietly, even just for a minute. The goal has always been to increase that time. But it’s been a few years now, and we are still working on those VERY long 60 seconds. 

That’s where we are now: praying before meals, morning prayer, Bible stories, a minute of silence, night time prayer, and telling Jesus we love him twice a day. We also try to keep a prayerful house through the music we listen to, the shows we watch, and even the types of “play” we encourage. Of course, there is more work we can do. It’s a daily attempt to remind our children what our lives are all about, and that we all want to go to Heaven together. We are not trying to FORCE them to pray, but encouraging them to want a personal relationship with God. Kids imitate what examples are given to them, and we are just trying to give an example. 

Wherever you are at in your family’s prayer journey, don’t be afraid to start, to continue, or to add in more. I know that what we are doing now, is working for our kids for NOW! There are endless ways to pray as a family, don’t worry about it being “right”. Just do it, and do it together!