“I remember my mother's prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.”—Abraham Lincoln
Your great-grandmother’s engagement ring, the “good” silver, holiday traditions, and the family’s blue-ribbon-winning apple pie recipe are just some of the things that may have been passed down for the last few generations in your family. You cherish these mementos and memories for the way they make you feel connected to your family. What about the gift of praying? Does your family connect through prayer? Does your daily routine include praying as a family? Are you interested in sharing the value of praying with your children? Teaching your children to pray is a priceless treasure that will give them so much more than any piece of silver ever could.
Why bother praying as a family?
There are lots of reasons why you should pray as a family; for starters, it’s in the family that we first learn how to pray. Just as parents get their little ones into the habit of brushing their teeth twice a day, saying please and thank you, and putting their toys away, they need to get their children into the habit of praying. Children learn by watching and when they witness mom and dad praying as a family they’re benefiting in the following ways:
- They learn what it’s like to have a heartfelt conversation with God as they would with a trusted friend, parent, or sibling
- They learn how to turn their fears and phobias over to their Heavenly Father and to trust in the Lord. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6)
- By hearing your children voicing their concerns and fears to the Lord, you can gain valuable insight into what’s troubling them and reach out to alleviate those anxieties.
- You teach them that while it’s important to be self-sufficient and independent, they—as well as adults—need to rely on God. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
- Teaches them how to be patient, especially when their prayers aren’t answered immediately or if the answer to their prayer is “no.” You are arming them with tools for adulthood.
- Shows them how to be selfless by praying for other people’s needs before their own, whether it’s their siblings, neighbor, or strangers they’ve heard about in the news
- Praying each and every day, especially at a certain time, teaches them discipline and consistency. Like many things in life, the more they do something, the more they get out of it.
- Forces everyone to spend time together. This is especially important for families with teens who seem to always be going off in different directions.
Passing the torch
After nourishing your children’s spirituality through daily family prayer, once they’re grown and out on their own, they too, like Abraham Lincoln will be able to say, “I remember my parent's prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.”
The following are a couple of examples of wonderful prayers dedicated to family that you can say together:
God made us a family.
We need one another.
We love one another.
We forgive one another.
We work together.
We play together.
We worship together.
Together we use God's word.
Together we grow in Christ.
Together we love all people.
Together we serve our God.
Together we hope for heaven.
These are our hopes and ideals.
Help us to attain them,
O God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Prayer for a Family
O dear Jesus,
I humbly implore You to grant Your special graces to our family.
May our home be the shrine of peace, purity, love, labor and faith.
I beg You, dear Jesus, to protect and bless all of us, absent and present, living
loving Mother of Jesus,
and our Mother,
pray to Jesus for our family,
for all the families of the world,
to guard the cradle of the newborn,
the schools of the young and their vocations.
Blessed Saint Joseph,
holy guardian of Jesus and Mary,
assist us by your prayers
in all the necessities of life.
Ask of Jesus that special grace
which He granted to you,
to watch over our home
at the pillow of the sick and the dying,
so that with Mary and with you,
heaven may find our family unbroken
in the Sacred Heart of Jesus.