Catholic Activity: Habits of Prayer in the Family
Regular prayer should be accorded the same importance as the regular bodily nourishment that sustains your child's life.
Strength in Prayer When you plan three wholesome meals a day, you do not worry about your family's nutrition. You are nevertheless aware that milk contains calcium and other essentials for strong, white teeth, and that other body-building foods are aids to growth. Similarly, when you establish the habit of daily prayer in your children, you are almost certain to develop in them a strong friendship with Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother. This is going to give your child serenity in times of temptation and in times of joy. Regular meals make it unnecessary to worry about details of the growth of a child. Regular habits of prayer make it unnecessary to be disturbed about spiritual development.
The Psalms, the official prayer of the Church, fit nearly every occasion. The family might recite in unison or sing a verse or the antiphon of a Psalm at the beginning and the end of the day. There are many song arrangements of Psalms, and the famous Gelineau Psalms are now available on records in English, making the learning of them easy. [Editor's Note: This book is out of print and the Gelineau Psalms may no longer be available.]
Prayer In Daily Routine No one can tell you just how and when prayers should be said in your home. However, we do know of a family where five children of preschool age recite their morning prayers together. The family gathers at the breakfast table, The father stands reverently at his place, the mother pauses on her busy way from kitchen to table; and the little ones, who sense the beauty and importance of the moment, say what they can of the Grace before Meals. Immediately afterwards, the Morning Offering is recited. Even the baby moves his hand in an effort to make the Sign of the Cross and is quiet while the prayers are said.
Pray at any Time The offering of one's thoughts to God should not be so scheduled that there is no place for prayer at other times. During the course of any day there are opportunities to pray. A small child takes delight in calling on St. Anthony whenever anything from Mother's thimble to Dad's important tax paper, is lost or mislaid. A child likes the idea of offering up a bad bruise on his knee or leg or any pain he feels when Mother takes a sliver out with a needle. He delights in calling on his patron saint when he needs help.
A child is quick to carry out any suggestions you may make. You will be well repaid for the trouble and time you give to implanting ideas of prayer. When your little one says, "I said a prayer for you, Mama. Does your headache feel better now?" or "Daddy, is your 'toothache gone? I told the Blessed Mother you had one and you had to go to work," you will know that you have helped develop a tendency to prayer and an awareness of God.
Under One Roof In whatever way you manage the rest of the time, you may be able to recite your evening prayers together. This is an hour when the family can come together; when you gather as a strong unit under one roof, and by blessing yourselves and saying your prayers together, declare your family to be a part of the Mystical Body, brothers and sisters of Christ and dutiful sons and daughters of God the Father in heaven.
Your faith in the necessity and efficacy of prayer gives you confidence in the future. The most powerful force available in the world is that of prayer. Its regular practice serves to give meaning and a sense of usefulness to your daily lives. You pray, not only for solutions to your own personal and domestic problems, but for those of the whole world.
Activity Source: From Stroller to School, Parent-Educator Series 2, Leaflets 13-24, Three to Six Years by Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, 1962