Praying as a Family: Overcoming Obstacles

Family praying for food together

Anne Metz

Do you feel like you should be praying together as a family, but you don’t know where to begin? You are not alone. Here’s a list of common obstacles and how to overcome them so you can get started reaping the benefits of family prayer.

Praying out loud feels awkward

If you don’t currently pray together as a family, it may feel awkward, and that’s okay. But it’s time to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Start small. Begin by saying a prayer before meals, or say bedtime prayers out loud each night with your children. Before you know it, that will feel really comfortable; in fact, you’ll probably feel like something is missing if you skip it! The only way to get past that awkward feeling is through it. You’ll be surprised how quickly the awkwardness fades. Start today!

There’s no time in my schedule for prayer

Parenting young children is a busy season of life where there is very little free time. It may feel like there just isn’t time to incorporate prayer into your daily routine. But, if God is at the forefront of your life and the lives of your family, it’s important to prioritize prayer. Look at your schedule and see where you can add in a dedicated prayer time, both personally and as a family. Once you rearrange your schedule to put God first, you’ll find you had the time all along.

You can also pray throughout your day in small simple ways. Stop to say a quick prayer before each meal. When you are feeling happy, stop and pray out loud, “Thank you God for this beautiful day.” When you are short on patience, pray, “God, please help me be patient.” Teach your kids to do the same. This normalizes prayer and teaches them to thank God for their blessings and reach out for help in the very moment they need it.

My children are too young

It may feel difficult to pray when you have very young kids for a number of reasons. Your kids may not be able to sit still very long or you may feel they are too young to understand what they are saying. First let me assure you, no child is too young for prayer. Jesus himself said, “Let the children come to me!”

If it’s difficult to have prayer time because your little ones can’t sit still, then don’t ask them to! Let them get their wiggles out during prayer time. Occupy them with a coloring sheet related to the prayer. Or move around with them while you pray. Make it fun. Create an obstacle course and after each obstacle, stop and say a prayer.

Keep it short and simple. For very young kids, it’s probably not possible for them to sit for an entire Rosary, but they can stop and pray a Hail Mary with you or even a decade.

I don’t know what to pray

If you aren’t a regular pray-er, it may be difficult to begin. Start with what you know - the rote prayers we all learned growing up. Pray the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be together as a family. Try to pray a decade of the rosary together every day or once a week. Look up other rote prayers you may not be familiar with, like the Memorare or the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Then, share these beautiful Catholic prayers with your family.  

You can also begin praying from your heart. Speak to God as if He is your friend (because He is!). Tell Him about your day. Thank Him for your blessings. Ask Him for help. God doesn’t need flowery words. He just wants to hear from you. Encourage your family to do the same. Perhaps before dinner, you can all spend a minute telling God what you are thankful for.  

There are so many benefits of praying together! It’s good for your relationships with God and with each other. Praying as a family normalizes prayer and teaches your children how to pray. Then, when they grow up and have families of their own, family prayer will be a natural part of their daily lives.  

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