Building this habit in your children will last a lifetime.
Religious education classes are canceled. If your son or daughter was supposed to receive first Communion this year, that has been postponed. Getting kids to do school work at home or to sit through their Zoom classes is hard work. So, figuring out how to teach them about the faith may be at the bottom of your list right now—because everything else is such a battle that you don’t have the energy for!
If this describes you, don’t worry. There’s a way to help kids learn about God every day, and it doesn’t involve much teaching. It also adds structure and stability to your day, so its win-win. Here’s the suggestion: add a new prayer routine to your day. Not only will your kids benefit from praying more, but you will, too. Plus, learning how to pray, and making it a habit, is a lifelong grace that religion class is not always able to instill.
Here are some ideas for what kinds of prayer routines to implement. No need to try them all, and certainly don’t try them all at once. Pick one or two and work on getting those cemented for a few weeks. You can always add more, and they’ll stick more easily if one prayer habit is already formed.
Pray a morning offering together. Here’s a classic one:
“O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this dayfor all the intentions of your Sacred Heart,in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world,for the salvation of souls, the reparation of sins, the reunion of all Christians,and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father this month. Amen.”
Pray the Angelus together. Here’s how. One person says the first line, and the second person/everyone else says the response. Then you pray a Hail Mary.
Talk about what you are thankful for that day or how you noticed God that day (in nature? In a kind sibling?).
In the evenings
Pray the Rosary. Here’s how. Start by praying one decade. For little kids, these books are very helpful to keep them engaged and teach them how to keep track of the prayers. For slightly older kids, this book is a nice resource to give them beautiful art to look at while praying.
If you watch Mass online, get dressed up and stand and sit and kneel as you would during a regular Mass. It helps remind everyone that Mass is special, even when we can’t be there.
Or instead of watching the Mass online, read the readings together and then pray a spiritual communion. It may keep everyone better engaged.
At any time of the day
Introduce some spontaneous prayer:
When you hear an emergency siren, say a quick prayer asking for protection for the emergency workers and those needing help.
If you see someone who is homeless on the side of the road, pray for him or her. It helps if you are able to ask his name and pray for him by name.
Before breakfast or family prayers at night, thank Jesus out loud for the good things you’ve noticed that day—the beautiful sunrise, a nice breakfast, or good weather.
Whatever you choose to pray, try your best to remember every day. You can set an alarm on your phone, or ask Alexa to remind you when it’s time to pray. And if you forget one day, all is not lost. Just start again tomorrow!