CULTIVATING A DOMESTIC CHURCH...PRAYING WITH YOUNG CHILDREN
Updated: Apr 1, 2021
Come Holy Spirit! Guide our steps, DEEPEN our ROOTS!
Before I begin this post, I again want to ask that you, the reader, join me in prayer as we make the Sign of the Cross and take a moment to breathe deeply…. God, our creator, we humbly thank You for all that we are given and called to. Please send down Your Spirit to strengthen and guide us. Especially during these challenging and uncertain times, help us to accompany the youth you have put in our care so that they may deepen their roots in You, our Lord, Christ Jesus. Amen.
The Second Vatican Council's Dogmatic Constitution on the Church states "The family, is so to speak, the domestic church." (Lumen Gentium #11) This blog post series is meant to assist in cultivating your Domestic Church and provide a platform for sharing ideas and experiences. So, let's get down to cultivating!
Prayer can be challenging even for us adults. Take a moment to think about how you learned to pray during your younger years. Did your family pray together? How did that look? How did it feel? In what ways did it build a foundation for a life of prayer? How do you want your children to answer these questions once they are adults? Here are 3 areas to focus on to increase the prayer in your Domestic Church.
Focus Area #1: Live a Life of Visible Prayer
Prayer should permeate our entire lives and children learn best by following our example. So the first step is to model a life of prayer by living a life of prayer ourselves. Most of us could use some work in this area. Fortunately, accompanying my children in their prayer lives has helped to elevate my own, but it takes intentional effort.
No matter where we are in our personal journeys, we need to make sure our prayer lives are visible to our children. There is certainly great value in finding quiet times away for prayer without children using your body like a jungle gym, but it shouldn't stop there. Our children need to be able to see and hear us pray. Personally, I find myself good at quick prayers and I do it so regularly that I'm not always fully aware, but I've made an effort to say these prayers aloud more often, especially when my children are near. "God, thank You for this time with my kids, I'm really enjoying it." "Lord, we're running late, please help us to stay calm and move quickly." "Jesus, I love you." Even your quiet silent prayers, let your kids witness some of these moments. Let them see you pray with your spouse, let them witness you engaged in the Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet (check out our resources on the Devine Mercy Chaplet), or Centering Prayer. Sometimes, invite them to join you, and help them understand that prayer is something that you need and prioritize.
Focus Area #2: Frequent Prayer Interjections
It's important to expose kids to a variety of prayer from a young age. I'll talk about creating formal family prayer routines in a moment, but spontaneous, frequent, and relatively unplanned and unstructured prayer helps to remind us that God is with us always and should be a part of everything we do.
Consider trying some of these times with your children throughout the day and encourage them to add to the prayers and speak to God directly…
When leaving or entering the home, give thanks for your house, pray for those who are homeless. Consider adding a holy water font to your entry way, see my blog post on holy water for more on this idea. We use this font.
When starting the car, give thanks for your access to transportation, pray for safety for your family and the other cars on the road.
When you hear a siren or see an ambulance or fire truck, pray for the people who may be in danger or sick right now, pray for the first responders in your community who help to keep people safe.
When frustrations and tempers run high in your home, pray for forgiveness, ask for patience and understanding.
When things are going well, sing in Thanksgiving.
When cleaning or doing housework together, thank God for your able bodies and teamwork.
When struggling to learn something new or make a family decision, ask God for guidance.
Consider praying St. Francis de Sales' Direction of Intention when transitioning to new activities. Get a free digital download of a Direction of Intention prayer card. (We keep this card in various places including my purse, the car, and digitally on my cell phone as a reminder.)
Here is a link to the Holy Water font we have and there are plenty more to pick from. (If using Amazon, please use our links, even if searching for a different model, as an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases which helps to support the efforts of Deepening Roots Ministry Services.)
Focus Area #3: Creating Consistent Family Prayer Routines
There are some times of the day that lend themselves well to formal prayer times. The most common are probably before meals and before bed. If you don’t already, consider adding in a morning prayer when you first wake up. These more formal prayer times are great opportunities to have various members of the family take turns leading the prayer. Try giving everyone a chance to speak what they are thankful for, what they need help with, and who they want to pray for. These are also great times to teach basic Catholic prayers like the Sign of the Cross, the Our Father, and the Hail Mary (check out our resources on the Hail Mary prayer).
What are you already doing for prayer that is working well in your family? How will you increase the prayer in your Domestic Church? Please comment below so we can all learn from each other!
Until next time, may the peace of Christ be with you and those you accompany in His name! Please pray for me. I will pray for all of you!
With all my love and respect,
Angela V Davis
Deepening Roots Ministry Services