by Mary-Jo McLaughlin
Is family prayer a part of your family’s life?
I have vivid memories as a child kneeling beside my family as we prayed the Rosary. I would look out the window and see neighborhood children playing in their yards and I longed to be with them. Instead, I was cooped up inside participating in something that I saw as little more than a burdensome chore.
When I was 11 years old, my mother died and family life as we knew it changed drastically. So many activities that we once did as a family were gone, the family rosary among them. It’s funny the things you miss when they are no longer there to take for granted.
I have reflected often on those days of family prayer, of Bible stories shared and blessings offered at bedtime. They taught me a valuable life lesson – the discipline of trusting in God’s love for me. After my mother died, it was prayer that got me through the difficult and uncertain days of adolescence and beyond – prayer that was cultivated and nurtured in our family home.
Pope Francis wrote, “It is in the family that we first learn how to pray…. This is important. There we come to know God, to grow into men and women of faith, and to see ourselves as members of God’s greater family—the Church. In the family we learn how to love, to forgive, to be generous and open, not closed and selfish. We learn to move beyond our own needs, to encounter others and share our lives with them. That is why it is so important to pray as a family! So important!”
Pope Francis’ vision for family life is God’s vision. Unfortunately, in today’s culture, most people are living their lives according to the world’s way rather than God’s way. An article I read recently stated, “Families are far more likely to watch television together than they are to pray together.” The only way to change that trend is to begin with changes in our own family.
If you are not a family that regularly prays together, consider beginning to do so tonight. Start with baby steps like saying a simple prayer together at mealtime. When our children were younger our family prayed before each meal, “God is great, God is good, and we thank God for our food.” Then each of us went around the table and said one thing we were thankful for that day, a practice we have continued to this day. Each time we got in the car to embark on a family trip we would say three Hail Mary’s to Our Lady Queen of the Highway. It was simple and quick, but it set a deeper example to our children of placing our trust in God.
Family prayer doesn’t have to be burdensome or difficult. There are as many and different ways to pray as there are people and there is no right or wrong way to do it. The key is to intentionally take time as a family each day to connect and invite the Lord to join you. Your home is a sacred space where the Lord is always present. He is there waiting for you to invite Him into your lives. Give Him a chance. You will be surprised by the difference He can make in the life of your family. I know I was.
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