By Anne Metz
The school year is under way. We've said goodbye to the relaxed days of summer and hello to the hustle and bustle of the school year. No matter what type of school your children go to, there’s no denying this is the beginning of a busy season that will only increase in pace as we head toward Christmas.
Do you ever wish you could slow this season down, be more intentional, and enjoy the smaller moments more? Prayer can help you and your family find the peace you need during the school year.
Start Each School Day in Prayer
Saying a prayer together as a family each morning sets the tone for the day. Prayer reminds us that God is always with us and walks alongside us in all our daily tasks. Here are a few easy ways to begin your school day with a prayer:
- Pray with your children as you wake them up for school.
- Say a decade of the rosary together while driving to school.
- Read a scripture verse or devotional during breakfast.
- Pop into an adoration chapel or a church on the way to school.
- Hang up a poster of the prayer that you are planning on saying each morning in a visible place.
Set a Habit Reminder
Intending to pray every day doesn’t always mean that we do pray every day. To create a new habit of praying daily, set up a reminder so you don’t forget. For example, if you decide to pray in the car on the way to school each morning, start your prayer as soon as you pass your mailbox. After a while, it will be impossible to pass the mailbox without thinking of God. If you choose to use a devotional book, set the book out where you will pray with your family, perhaps on the kitchen table or in your child’s room. Or, set an alarm on your phone when it’s time to say the morning prayer.
Pray During the School Day
Encourage your child to reach out to God on his or her own during the school day. A relationship with God isn’t a thing we take out on Sundays for mass, but rather an ongoing friendship that we should attend to.
There are many times during our days when we can call out to God. If your child feels lonely or is struggling with something like a test, encourage them to reach out to God right at that moment with a spontaneous prayer, something like, “Dear Jesus, I am worried about this test; help me to remember what I learned.” If your child feels happy about making a new friend at school, or proud of an art project, encourage them to reach out to God with a prayer of thanksgiving. For example, “Dear God, thank you for my friends and all the fun I have at school.”
If your child attends a Catholic school or is homeschooled, there will most likely be a prayer said before snack or lunch. But if your child goes to a public school, they can say their own grace before meals either in their head or out loud. If your child is too young to memorize the Grace Before Meals, they can simply say, “Thank you God, for this food.”
Give a Blessing
When we think of blessings, we often think of priests giving us a blessing, or blessing items. But we as laypersons are also called to give blessings, especially to our children. According to the United States Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), “The blessings given by laypersons are exercised because of their special office, such as parents on behalf of their children.”
Blessing your children before school every morning is a wonderful tradition to begin. It’s simple: just make the sign of the cross on their foreheads and speak words of blessing over them.
The USCCB recommends a few blessings:
- May God bless you.
- May God keep you safe.
- God be with you.
- God be in your heart.
- May God bless and protect you.
Of course, you may use your own words, or choose words directly from scripture, like this beautiful blessing from Numbers: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).
Pray for Teachers
Don’t just pray for your children, pray for their teachers too. Teaching children is a wonderful vocation but spending all day with children can be taxing, as we as parents well know. Include teachers in your prayers. Thank God for good teachers and ask Him to fill them with his patience, love, and perseverance.
Attend to Your Own Prayer Life
Make sure you are attending to your own spiritual life as well. It is difficult to lead others to a relationship with God when we are neglecting our own relationship with Him. Select a time and a place for your own prayer time and enjoy the peace that comes from spending time with the Lord.
Don’t let the busyness of this school season rob your joy! Make prayer a priority this school year and find the peace that only God can give.
When she’s not writing about faith, Anne Metz works for Growing Catholics, whose mission is to bring Scripture to all, especially tweens and teens.