For our family, prayer is always present, but very changeable. Our routine may change due to preference, a change in liturgical season, welcoming a baby and making prayer fit with the changing ages of our children. Though our prayer routine fluctuates often, we never go a day without praying at least a little bit.
Family Prayer Before Meals
We are very consistent about praying before meals. We say the traditional Catholic blessing and we add a simple, kid friendly “thank you for our food and for [each person sitting at the table].”
Family Prayer in the Evening
We do some form of prayer with the children every evening, but this is one place where we see a lot of variation. In the past we have read stories of saints, read from a children’s bible, said prayers from children’s books of collected prayers or used the five-finger prayers.
Most recently our evening prayer routine needed to accommodate putting our younger daughter to bed before our older daughter. So, for our younger daughter we would sing either the Our Father or Hail Mary (her choice) while she lay calmly in her bed. Our older daughter, who could stay up a bit later, participated with us in a more formal family prayer time. This year our pastor asked that all members of our parish say the Angelus everyday.
I made an area for prayer on top of our piano with an icon of the Holy Family, a statue of Mary and a framed printout of the Angelus prayer. We have been gathering there every evening to pray the Angelus.
Now that we have it memorized, I am contemplating saying the Angelus at noon and trying a new form of prayer in the evening.
I like to have time for personal prayer every morning and every night. My prayer routine changes to accommodate caring for a new baby or needing to sleep a little longer due to being up at night caring for children. When our routine is in flux (or chaos), personal prayer time does get set aside.
However, I have found that on the days that I allot even just ten minutes each for morning and night prayer, our days go so much smoother. My personal prayer begets more peace, tranquility and joyful productivity within my own self and within our home.
Personal Morning Prayer
When I am not sleep deprived and I am getting to bed at a reasonable hour I like to say Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours. I have been using an app called iBreviary to say morning prayer. On other days I typically say the Morning Offering and sometimes the Acts of Faith, Hope and Love.
Personal Night Prayer
Before I go to bed at night, I like to pray Night Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours. For Night Prayer I use the actual book, Christian Prayer, so that I am not looking at a screen right before I go to bed. On nights when I am especially tired, I usually do a quick examination of conscience, act of contrition and say the Magnificat.
Liturgy of the Hours
If you are interested in praying the Liturgy of the Hours, there are several resources available to help:
- There is an iOS app called iBreviary, which makes the prayers very accessible. You can even have the prayers read to you using the app, a feature that might go well with using Bluetooth in your car.
- On the web you could use: http://universalis.com/.
- To have the prayers in print form and in one volume, look for the book called Christian Prayer.
- If you are planning to learn how to pray all of the hours using the book, I also recommend the companion book called Divine Office for Dodos (which walks you through how to say the prayers).
Prayer During the Day
Throughout the day I often say short personal prayers of petition to help me refocus my priorities and attention. This past Lent, I practiced the Little Way of St. Therese of Lisieux, by trying to do all of the little things I do each day with great care, attention and love. This was a particularly fruitful spiritual exercise for me. It was a great way to try to pray constantly while also improving my focus and care for my family.
Prayer As A Couple
We very rarely pray as a couple. We may occasionally say the rosary together or a novena for a special intention, but this is definitely an area for improvement for us!
What about you? Do you have a young family? Are you a stay-at-home parent? What does your prayer routine look like? What have you found that works for you?