Every family is unique and their family prayer life will be too! What works for one family would be impossible for another. Whether it’s highly structured like the Rosary or Divine Office or less formal like meditation or spontaneous prayer, there is a style to suit every family as it grows and changes. Whether your kids are five days, five years or fifteen years old, it’s never too early or too late to start family prayer.
Rules of Thumb
- Keep it Simple
Don’t go shoot yourself in the foot by attempting a prayer routine to challenge a Carmelite Monastery! When it comes to Family Prayer, simplicity is what makes it child-friendly, teen-tolerable and parent-manageable.
- A Daily Anchor
Think about your worst, most busy, tiring and trying day. Then find the simplest prayer you and your family could manage in that situation and make that your daily anchor. On the good days you can do more, but bad days will happen so a little forethought makes a family prayer life sustainable.
- Augment the Ordinary
We all eat family meals together; we all tuck the kids in at bedtime and make trips in the car. These very ordinary moments are also prime moments for nourishing our souls too. A simple prayer at these ‘family gathering points’ makes life easier for you and also shows your kids that spirituality is for every day, not just once a week on Sunday.
Creating a Space
You can make any space in your home a place of prayer; the dining table, kid’s bedrooms, the living room….Wherever it is most comfortable or makes the most logical sense can be a sacred space.
Whether you pray in the living room or on one of the kid’s beds or around the kitchen table, having a dedicated space keeps everyone focused and creates a visual reminder that we are a Family of God.
- A crucifix or cross
- One or more candles
- A Bible or Missal
- Prayer cards with your favourite prayers
- Rosary beads
- Icons/pictures of Mary, Jesus or the Holy Family
- Images of your favourite saints
- Children’s Bible
- Divine Mercy Chaplet beads
- Decorative cloths in seasonal colours
- Book of Meditations
- CD player or speakers to play music
Your family altar or sacred space doesn’t have to be large; even the smallest of apartments has room for a shelf to keep a candle, crucifix and Bible.
In our house, we have a shelf on the bookcase fondly nicknamed ‘the Jesus Shelf’. Other sacred spaces include a small side table in the family room with a big Bible and a St Mary MacKillop space in the formal lounge.
For more ideas to inspire your family’s prayer space, check out our dedicated Pinterest board.
Timing is everything
Creating an awesome family prayer routine means starting small and picking the right time where both you and your kids will first, remember to do it and second, make it easier to form a habit. The ‘right time’ will look different for every family and will change over time too. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
This is a hectic time for many parents with school-aged children and teenagers. However, little moments can be captured, like praying a Joey Rosary in the car on the way to school, a Morning Blessing to wake kids up or say goodbye at the school gate. You could even read aloud the Gospel of the day as your kids eat breakfast. Keep prayer short and simple and morning prayers will be achievable even on the most stressful mornings.
- Day Time
If you homeschool or have preschool children, having your family prayer time during the day allows for more flexibility to work around weekend activities and the active social lives of teenagers. Try the Angelus at noon, or taking some time for an afternoon meditation with Taize chants or a family Divine Mercy Chaplet at three o’clock. If you’re really brave, you could give an entire family Rosary a try!
When the family gathers for dinner, for bedtime, story time or movie time, a simple prayer can be incorporated into the routine. Whether it’s Grace before dinner, bedtime prayers or a designated family Rosary or meditation after dinner, evening time is often the most practical and natural gathering point.