by Anne Metz
Praying with children teaches them what to pray and how to pray, but more importantly, it helps them build their own relationship with Jesus. With any good friendship, it’s necessary to spend time together, and prayer is a vital way to spend time with God.
When we pray with our children, we also teach them that God is always with us and we can always reach out to Him. He does not live only in a church that we visit on Sundays. He lives in us and is all around us.
In this busy season of life raising young kids, there might not be a lot of time to pray, and your kids might not be able to sit for long periods, so don’t worry about the amount of time as much as the frequency.
Praying before dinner and at bedtime are the most common times families pray. Here are a few suggestions for some additional prayer times:
In the morning
Put the most important thing, your relationship with God, first by starting your morning with prayer. When you wake your children up in the morning (or when they wake you up!) start the day by praying, “Thank you Lord for this day.” Or you can offer the day to the Lord by praying The Morning Offering or simply saying, “Lord, I offer you this day, all my sufferings and all my blessings. Help me to be a blessing to others and to see your face in all the people I encounter today.” Starting the day with prayer is a great habit to instill in your children.
In the car
The car is a great place to pray as a family! If you are heading out on a road trip, start the trip by praying a rosary together. Let all the family members lead a decade of the rosary.
In front of the Blessed Sacrament
Add in a regularly scheduled time to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament at an adoration chapel. It is a powerful experience to pray in front of the consecrated host. Jesus is truly present here and His Presence is palpable! When you walk into the chapel, it is usually calm and quiet, but don’t let that deter you if you have little ones. All are welcome in Jesus’ house. In fact, He was the one who said, “Let the children come to me.” Start small with a few minutes at a time and increase the time as your children get older and more able to be quiet. Try to add a stop to the adoration chapel to your monthly, weekly, or daily routine.
Before tests, games, and performances
Pray over your children before important events in their life, like their sporting events, performances, or before a big test. This is a good time to thank God for their blessings and to ask Him to help them perform well and calm any nervousness.
In the middle of the night
Should you wake your kids up in the middle of the night to pray? I think not! But, when a child wakes up from a nightmare, it’s a perfect time to pray. Remind them that God is in control, and He is protecting them. As they get older, they will learn to seek God in their fear, especially at night.
Follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit
Listening is a very important part of any relationship and that extends to our relationship with Jesus. Make space and time for quiet in their lives, free from the distractions of screens and noise, so they can be open to the Holy Spirit. Listen for these nudges from the Holy Spirit and let them guide you into prayer. The Holy Spirit might ask you to pray for a friend or remind you to ask for grace in a difficult situation. Teach your children to listen for these whispers and pray when the Holy Spirit guides them.
Introduce some of these new, creative times to pray with your children. See what works for your family and incorporate it into your daily life. Hopefully, this list will energize your family prayer life and help you all grow closer in your relationship with Jesus.