How do we pray as a family? (Part 1)
Those who know me best know how I will measure when I have “arrived” in life. It basically boils down to three things: a wood burning stove, jogging a few times a week, and a daily family rosary. So far, I’m zero for three.
Maybe it’s some odd quirk of my manic perfectionist personality, but something about praying that rosary together as a family feels unattainable… and, therefore, paralyzing. But when I hear “the family that prays together, stays together,” I shudder to think how this statement would end: “The family that doesn’t pray together…” Yikes.
I think of the daily rosary as the prayerful equivalent of a 5K run each day. Much like the famous “Couch-to-5K” running programs, it makes sense to break down prayer habits into a manageable training program. This is not about one big “run,” but about developing habits. Habits develop slowly, and below is a list of five practical steps my family has worked on to develop our family prayer life for the past 10 years (pretty much in this order, one at a time, until we were consistent with each one).
- Go to Sunday Mass as a family. This is absolutely essential!
- Have family meals together, and remember to say grace.
- Establish a meal-time prayer, and begin to add a petition or two. Little kids love to pray for intentions, and you may pull out some heartfelt concerns from older children also.
- Mom and dad need to pray together! My husband and I pinky-swore several years ago that we would kneel for one ‘Our Father’ each night.
- Say the Angelus. This simple prayer is another habit that we built by setting a noon alarm on our phones, and taping the prayer to the inside of a kitchen cupboard. It takes just two minutes, and it punctuates our day, reminding us of what is most important.
Feel free to work on these slowly. Each one of these practices has been a hard-won process for my family, but the development is totally worth the effort. Next week I’ll share with you four more steps my family has taken to make prayer an integral part of our lives.
(Mandie DeVries, Director of Faith Formation, All Saints Church)