How is your family prayer routine going at home?
Ours is FINALLY showing some sort of form and the kids are somewhat focused…sometimes. But, honestly, I’ll take it as a victory because a few month ago, my kids were rolling on the floor and trying to run out of the room pretty much every night of evening prayers. I can say it’s by the grace of God and our beautiful church that got us where we are today with our prayer rule.
Our evening prayer routine finally started to click in our kid’s minds when they were able to realize that the prayers we are saying each night are prayers found in our services. And I truly believe that God allowed them to make a connection cause they were an unruly bunch - ha! Below are a few tips that work with our family, and some that I’ve gleaned from other mom’s in our community.
Choose your battles. This one was the most difficult for me. My husband and I wanted to pray every night as a family, but the kids saw it as a time to goof off while mom and dad were pre-occupied. We didn’t want to aggressively force them to pray, and give them a negative association with prayer time. So we chose to not fight the “You have to pray NOW” battle. Instead, we were diligent in implementing our rules that the kids have to be quiet and respectful, and near us while we’re praying. Kids under 2, we let sit at our feet and read or sometimes quietly play. It took 2 years, but hey, here we are. Did I mention that our oldest child is a bit stubborn? - ha!
Pay Attention. I think this is jut basic parenting, but if we’re sensing that the kid’s can’t handle a lot of prayers on a particular night (i.e: they’re especially rambunctious, tired, or just low on motivation), we let the kids pick one prayer and then say the Lord’s Prayer. We are so excited to grow our prayer time as our kids grow, but right now, we just do what our family can.
Let them Choose. We let our kids choose a prayer as part of our rule each night. This is a great time to suggest some of the Memory Exercises from our Orthodox Children’s Calendar, or some of the Liturgical Hymns of the season. This way the kids are actively participating. It also gives us as parents the opportunity to teach our kids new church hymns (Before Thy Cross is STILL being requested at prayer time over here) which they can have reinforced later as they attend services.
Let them Discover. How cool is it the first time your kid recognizes a hymn from your prayers at home, while they’re in church? We try to gently guide our kids into the realization that what we’re praying at home mimics the church services. We may mention that we’re saying a particular hymn during our prayers because it’s a particular church feast. However, in church, we like to let the kids themselves make the connection. Sometimes, I’ll ask my 3 yr old, “Have you heard this song before?” or I’ll say, “Do we know this song?”. It’s a joy to see her face light up as she puts the two together in her mind. She’s started making the connections more frequently without my assistance now, and it’s been so edifying for both of us.
What is your family prayer time like?
What habits or resources have been helpful for your family?
What is prayer time like with grade schoolers or teenagers?
Leave your answers in the comments below!
We hope your prayer time as a family is blessed this month! Please enjoy this free writing-exercise for early grade schoolers and pre-k kids. Just click the link below to download and your kids can practice writing and reciting the Lord’s Prayer.