As kids grow up, we need to adapt our family prayer strategies to keep them engaged and age-appropriate. Here are three simple ideas our family has enjoyed.
by Regina Lordan
Over the years our family has tried out different ways to keep praying together both engaging and age-appropriate. When my oldest was a small baby, I would rock him and sing Marian songs that I remembered learning in Catholic school as a child. When he got older, we learned the Our Father, Hail Mary, and other traditional prayers. When he went to a non-Catholic preschool, he excitedly and proudly told me that he taught his toddler peers Angel of God.
But as time went on and his sisters were born, I had to think of new and creative ways to keep family prayer a meaningful and reasonable part of our daily lives. We still sang together and recited formal prayers, but I wanted something more. Here are some ideas that we have tried over the years. Hopefully you will find them helpful in keeping your family prayer life meaningful and fresh.
Prayer Intention Tin
I cannot remember where this idea originated from, but I know it did not come from my uncreative mind. I oftentimes find myself saying to friends and family members that I will remember them in my prayers, but then I would only recall their intentions right at that last moment between wakefulness and sleep. In the darkness of night, eyes fluttering, I would say a quick Hail Mary. That didn’t feel like enough, and I wanted to teach my children that praying for others could mean more than saying their names quickly as we fluttered into dreamland. So, to intentionally pray for grandma and grandpa, or for those suffering from famine and war, we tried a prayer tin.
In general, you could fill a tin with Popsicle sticks marked with names and special intentions. During prayer time, each child can take out a stick and pray for that person or thing. Because I am not particularly resourceful, we used slips of paper and a plastic baggy. Worked just as well. Children can become part of the project. This week I am encouraging my two older children to write or draw their own intentions on slips of paper.
This one is a big hit with my family, and we have two. Prayer cubes have a small, simple prayer on each side. Family members roll the cube back and forth, and take turns saying the prayer on the side facing up after the cube lands from its roll. We had to shelve our dinnertime prayer cube for awhile until the toddler learns her table manners. Throwing became too fun! Prayer cubes can be bought online [Amazon] or you can make your own.
Make up a prayer in song
This has been in and out of our rotation lately. My middle child, nearly five, likes to sing these beautiful prayers that must sprout right from her heart. She sings about Mary’s beauty and protection, God’s eternal love for her and how Jesus lives within her. It is incredibly innocent and reminds me how close Jesus really is to the little ones. So, sometimes while I am cleaning up breakfast, tying shoes, searching for lunch bags and rushing out the door to catch the bus, my middle one will sing one of her songs. That prayerful hymn is oftentimes enough to carry us through the day until we are finally together again.
What creative strategies do you use to spice up your family’s prayer time?