Create a special place in your home where your children can meet Jesus. Here’s how.
by Gina Keating
Children have a profound sense of the sacred because they have the desire and capacity to be in a relationship with Jesus.
As parents, we can help our children fall in love with him by being sensitive to our environment at home.
At the beginning of each formation year in autumn, it’s a good time to revisit, or design, a special table or place for prayer that nurtures a friendship with Jesus.
By establishing order, beauty, and language we allow our children the opportunity to talk and listen to him in the shelter and comfort of the “domestic church.”
Pick a location
Some families use a room for prayer, while others choose an area in their home, or a special table. It could be a kitchen buffet, a side table, or even the fireplace mantle.
Make the decision together as a family, and have the prayer space accessible to everyone.
Moreover, have the prayer space visible to visiting family and friends and watch it become an evangelization tool as they ask about its design and purpose.
Make it meaningful
It’s important to think about which items to place on the family prayer table, so allow everyone a chance to participate.
Sacramentals like statues, photos of saints, holy cards, a rosary, or medals are good tools that help us focus on the holy.
Light candles next to a beloved crucifix to signify the presence of Jesus in your home, and keep holy water in a bottle or a font so children can bless themselves by making the Sign of the Cross.
Once you’ve chosen your items, begin with order by following the liturgical calendar.
Place the sacramentals on simple cloths on the table, using colored napkins or placemats to mirror the four main liturgical colors: purple, green, red, white.
Throughout the year, change the items to reflect the Church year.
During Lent, decorate the prayer table with pictures of the Stations of the Cross; add the Nativity set during the Christmas season; on Pentecost use the red cloth and have the children make flames out of construction paper and add them to the prayer table to represent the Holy Spirit.
Beautify your family’s prayer table with fresh flowers in a vase. Younger children delight in tending to living plants by watering and clipping. Once the flowers die, take a trip to the local florist and let kids choose their favorites.
Tips for Using Your Family Prayer Table
Adding sacred music during prayer adds to the beauty and joy of praising God. After all, St. Augustine of Hippo once said, “He who sings prays twice.”
The language of love we use with our children at home will exemplify the love the Father in heaven has for us.
Help them connect to the Creator of the universe—if you want your children to pray, pray with them.
Read Scripture aloud from the Bible, add carefully written passages on cardstock to the table or frame a favorite passage each month.
Take notice of feast days, holy days of obligation and solemnities with special items on the prayer table, and family members take turns reading aloud the eternal Word of the living God.
Teach your children that scriptures are not old, dead writings from ancient history but the incarnate and living words of God.
The most important part of prayer is for us to be changed into the image of Jesus, and that process of being changed into love is in our prayers.
As newly canonized St. Teresa of Calcutta once said, “Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, and listening to his voice in the depth of our hearts.”
What better place to begin this friendship than at our prayer tables?