Instead of drudging through the daily ritual of reciting routine evening prayers, sing, work and pray together to a prerecorded prayer playlist.
by Heidi Indahl
Sometimes I see pictures of families during their evening prayer time and I hide a little bit behind my computer screen. Children are kneeling, hands folded, heads bowed.
Evening prayer at our house is more … well … free form.
Maybe you are thinking that you don’t do evening prayer at all.
Maybe this will inspire you to give it a try, because you really can’t do it crazier than we do. It is nothing like the peaceful evening view of the river I chose as the picture for the original post!
I always have had this vision of our family with an evening prayer routine. We’ve had a well-established morning prayer routine for years, but all of the various evening versions we have tried eventually have fallen away. They were either seasonal devotions such as during Lent or Advent, or too ambitious (maybe someday we can do an entire rosary as a family each night, but now is not that time). Evening activities and shifting schedules made evening prayer more of a challenge as the kids grew.
I had the idea that we should put together a playlist of songs the kids could learn, modeled after some of the key components of a more typical evening prayer. Then we could simply play the playlist after dinner while kids were getting ready for bed, finishing chores, etc.
We could kind of sing, work and pray as a family before heading off to bed. (Note: While I know there are many resources available for evening prayer that might be a bit more traditional in nature, sometimes us converts have to just make up what works for us not having grown up knowing any of that stuff and lacking smarter people who want to teach us. Plus sometimes reinventing the wheel is better than no wheels at all.)
I’m happy to report that it is working and that we have stuck with it for almost two months now. (I don’t know about you, but once we’ve stuck with something that long it’s basically into our routine.)
It definitely can get a little crazy at times, with children dancing and doing chores while we pray. The other day there was actually a fight over who was going to hold the cat that got a bit violent for my taste. I’m pretty sure Gavin the cat isn’t very interested in evening prayer in the first place.
Overall, however, I think it has been a good addition to our daily rhythm and one that I would encourage you to try in whatever way works for you. The best part of doing it the way we did is that evening prayer is right there in a playlist on my phone that can be plugged in or shared no matter where we are. A couple times we have even been coming home from evening activities and turned it on for the drive home.
This is our playlist to help get you started, but I would encourage you to figure out something that works for your family, possibly based on songs that your family already knows.
I provided links to the songs we use on YouTube or another source whenever possible. If you look at the list in total, you will see there is an opening psalm, an act of contrition, Scripture (first a section from the beatitudes, followed by the Annunciation and Magnificat), prayers of petition, followed by an Our Father. Even though we were making up our own list, I did look through several evening prayers and tried to model after them as best I could. Total playtime is 17 minutes, which has turned out to be about right.
- “Oh My Jesus” (an act of contrition) from Holy Heroes: Songs of Faith and Joy
- “Kathy’s Song: Blessed are the Pure of Heart” from Holy Heroes: Sweet Mary, Songs of the Holy Family
- “Annunciation and Magnificat” from Holden Evening Prayer. This YouTube version is not the recording we have, but you can get the idea.
- “Prayer Song” (prayers of petition) also from Holy Heroes: Songs of Faith and Joy
- “Our Father” try a chant version of your choice, we are using the version from Making Music Praying Twice because we already had that one. It’s on the Ordinary Time-Fall disc.