Karakia te whanau — Family Prayer
The Family that Prays Together
There are many ways to pray. It's not the form that is important, but the fact that we are spending time in communication with God.
The only way to learn to pray is to do it. A great place to learn to pray is in a family environment. There are many opportunities for family prayer.
Praying at Home
We are not restricted to Church buildings as places of prayer. Where ever we gather we can pray. As the Domestic Church the family is where we learn to pray.
Pray for our own needs, the needs of the world. To petition (to ask), to praise and to give thanks. This might be through traditional prayers such as novenas or the rosary but we are only limited by imaginations. When we are deliberate about placing ourselves in the presence of God, about listening, responding and acting we are praying.
Make Family Prayer a Priority
The frantic pace of family life can often mean that prayer gets lost in the shuffle. Here are five simple and practical suggestions to encourage family pray more:
- When you rise from bed, get down on your knees
Try this method for morning prayer: Put your bedroom slippers or shoes under your bed at the end of the day. Each morning, while on your knees retrieving your footwear, say a quick prayer offering the whole day to God.
- Communicate with God whenever you climb into the car
Many families spend a whole lot of their time in the family vehicle. As you buckle up, say a quick prayer that you will be aware of God’s presence wherever you are going and whatever you are doing.
- Place a prayer jar in the kitchen
Keep a jar in the kitchen in which each family member, each day, places a note listing a “special intention” that others in the family can pray for. Before each family member goes to bed, he or she pulls a note from the jar and prays for that need.
- Say Thank You before you eat (GRACE)
Before each meal, take a few moments to thank God who provides all that you need and blesses you with the lives of those around the table. Try mixing up 'set' prayers with spontaneous prayers, silent prayers and sung prayers.
- Pray when people or events upset you (PRAYERS)
If you want a reliable way to pray more each day, make a habit of saying a short prayer whenever someone irritates you. A quick “Help me, God” is sufficient. You’ll never run out of opportunities!
The Catholic Church has a rich tradition of prayer in many forms. Many of them have been used for hundreds of years.
The Our Father is one of these prayers. Christians throughout the world pray it daily. Watch, listen and learn about the Our Father.
The Rosary is another treasure of the tradition
Prayer doesn't have to be complicated, it can be as simple as using the fingers on our hands as a prompt as suggested by Pope Francis.
To help everyone stay focused during prayer, have one person place their hand in the middle of the table, then have everyone else in the family place one hand on top to create a “stack” of hands.
- The person whose hand is at the base of the stack goes first, praying a single sentence prayer as they pull out their hand out and place it on top of the “hand stack.”
- Then the next person, whose hand is now on the bottom, prays as they pull their hand out and place it on top of the stack.
- When you sense it is time to stop, the person whose hand is on the bottom raises up the pile of hands. That’s the signal for everyone to say “Amen!”
- Finish with everyone sharing a high five the people next to them.
Research other interesting and fun ways to bring prayer into the family. The hand-stack idea comes from Focus on the Family.
Dinner Time Conversations
Dinner time provides a great opportunity for families to talk about life; what has happened, what is going to happen and how their faith is growing. The Archdiocese of Denver has put together a month's worth of faith conversation starters.
If the thought of doing something like this everyday is too daunting, introduce it in small steps. Perhaps once a week over fish and chips or another family favourite meal.