A few years ago during Advent, the Hubs suggested we begin praying a Rosary together as a family once a week. We chose Sundays since it is the Lord's Day after all. After dinner and bathtime, we would gather together to pray as a family. The kids each had their own rosaries, and while we encouraged them to pray with us, they were still only 3 and 1, so we didn't expect much.
A few months into this new practice, I put out a request for prayer intentions on a whim via social media. From there, our family rosary has grown into quite its own little ministry. There are no words to express the privilege it is to pray for others. People trust us with their deepest concerns, fears, hurts, and ask us to share in their greatest joys. The truth is they don't ask us - they seek Him. It is humbling... I digress.
Fast forward a couple of years, and the kids are approaching 5 and 3. We now expect a little more of the children, and our prayer time looks a bit different. With a little trial and error, we have figured out the secret to praying together with our children.
You want to know what it is?
The secret is that you just do it. Through the restlessness and distractions and short attention spans, you just do it. Whether it is the rosary or reading Scripture. Whether it is praise and worship or reading the lives of the Saints. Just do it. If it is just grace at mealtime and praying for others, just do it. The fruits will come.
Sure, we have tweaked our prayer. The children now get to begin the rosary by offering their own prayer intentions. Yes, it usually involves stuffed animals and animated characters mixed in with real people, but they know the value of praying for others. In between the mysteries we have added a rousing chorus of Lord, I Need You because our children love and respond to music. (God bless Matt Maher - no really! From now on, the prayer of the first mystery are totally yours!) To bring in more of our charismatic spirituality, we pray in the Spirit between mysteries as well.
We have grown in praying with our children beyond the family rosary over time. One night on a whim, I started praying over Gia. Now she demands it every night at bedtime, and prays over her brother randomly, especially when he is upset or feeling sick. The Hubs plays Bible for Kids with them at bedtime sometimes, and they demand that too.
|Real life pre-rosary - just in case you had visions|
of pious sugarplums dancing through your heads.
Last night, Gia read the scripture before one of the mysteries. She still has the attention span of a five year old, but when she does tune in, she is beaming. Both our children love to pray and be included in prayer, but on their own terms. Sound like anyone you know?
I think the secret to praying with your children is the same as maximizing your own prayer life. Instead of building up lofty ideals of what it should look like, you make the most of the opportunities you have and ask the Lord for more. Listen and look for the cues that show you what styles of prayer they respond to, what makes them come alive, and offer more of that. If something doesn't work well, don't sweat it. Just keep making the effort.
You just do it. You may want to ask the intercession of the saints, but you just do it.
Maybe the big secret wasn't such a secret after all...
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