For us, it is important to implement Catholic-ness throughout our lives so as to instill good habits in our kids and because, well, it's our job as Catholics.
Besides going to Mass and representing in our home, we strive, on a daily basis, to make prayer a part of our lives.
Growing up, and even today, when struggling with a situation, feeling uncertain, or simply thankful, I can always count on my mom to suggest, 'Pray about it.' I know I'll be handing out that advice someday and I hope with the little ways we are incorporating prayer into our family and daily routines, it will be a comfort and natural thing for them also.
Make it routine
Before meals (YES, even when out in public!)..
While getting ready in the morning..
On your way to school/work..
We all know the power of a habit, so making prayer a part of daily activities can ensure giving the Lord some time of each day. Especially for kids, creating expectations and a routine will help with participation and a good experience. T will remind us, 'WE FORGOT TO PRAY!!' if someone seems to be taking bites before a meal, or even if we are at someone else's house. How's that for accountability?! (Here is the prayer we say before supper.) We all know routine is one of the best things for kids at bedtime, so what a perfect way to prepare for the night, as well as set a peaceful, calm atmosphere (This is the first half of our prayer before bed, followed by 'Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. May angels watch me through the night and wake me with the morning light.'). The sign of the cross is a great 'routine' to practice with kids, they can watch/mimic and before you know it will be able to do themselves!!
(Tyson at 19 months)
Use memorized prayers
Coming up with something to make for dinner can feel overwhelming, but when you have a meal plan and recipes, it makes it much more doable, amiright?!
Along the same lines of routine, praying set prayers takes the excuse out of not knowing what to say, allows for family participation, and memorization. Ain't no shame in the memorized prayer-game:
Matthew 6: 9 - 'This is how you are to pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name..'
Like recipe cards, there are all sorts of prayers already created to help us succeed!! Not only will it relieve the pressure of free-stylin' if you are praying aloud, but it's a great way for kids to take part and be able to recite the prayer as well. T has been able to say our before-meal and bedtime prayers since at least two years old. Yes, I am a proud momma, but I also share because they are able and capable!! Print out some prayers and frame them to place by your sink to say while doing dishes, or tape on the mirror to say while getting ready in the morning. Praying the rosary is a powerful and beautiful set of memorized prayers, the Hail Mary is my favorite and MOST said prayer.
Encourage, have fun, and be an example!!
We always try to compliment T after he says his prayers fluidly or can recite a new prayer on his own; and let me tell you, he BEAMS!! Build confidence by cheering, encouraging, and verbalizing your pride in their participation and talent. Not only is it a form of public speaking, but it's a brain-flex as they memorize.
After we recite memorized prayers, we'll ask T if he has anything he'd like to add or anyone he'd like to pray for. He'll usually mention his cousins and friends, which I suppose is a little lesson of selflessness also..?! Use prayer 'props' - like prayer cards, books, or these cute prayer blocks - and let them pick which page or roll the block to see which prayer to say as a family.
Most of all, we need to be examples. Kids are sponges, PLUS we need a prayer-life ourselves. At 12-months old, Homegirl started folding her hands (occasionally) when we pray before meals. I. kid. you. not. We were all shocked, proud, and surprised (INCLUDING T, he gets a surprised face and tells her 'good job!'). Again, proud momma, but I share because it has STRICTLY been by example that she's picked this up.
The root and foundation of the prayers is what ties us together as a family - the family that prays together, stays together. Blah-cliché-blah, but there's got to be some truth to it. Sharing this faith creates a tradition, bond, and belief that can quite possibly be contagious!! The power and comfort of prayer is ideal to instill in a young life as there will be many times and places they can call on it in the future. No 'magic monster spray' at our house, my answer will be 'pray about it!', we've got our Hail Marys!!
How do you pray with your family?
How do you pray with your family?