If your family prayer time feels more chaotic than cultivated, take heart and don’t give up. Here are 24 ideas for family prayer time from Catholic moms just like you.
Let’s be real for a minute here.
Family prayer time does not look like a scene from the St. Joseph Picture Books.
Aside from the fact that no one is wearing plaid pajamas or brown bell bottoms, praying with children is not always the peaceful, angelic scene a book might depict. Most of the time I’ve got one kiddo chewing a wooden rosary, one hanging upside down from the couch, and one surreptitiously drawing in her notebook while my husband and I work to stay awake through decade number five.
It can look a little, well, rough.
We are a devout Catholic family. We are raising quirky Catholic kids. We are the definition of what you would call parenting in the trenches.
Starting and maintaining a dedicated family prayer time feels like herding angry cats in the rain.
Perhaps you feel much like we do. If so, please know you aren’t alone. I’ve sought out the wisdom of down-to-earth Catholic moms who are also parenting in the trenches.
Here are 24 Ideas for Family Prayer Time From Catholic Moms Just Like You
Michelle Faehnle, Divine Mercy for Moms
Our go-to is always the Chaplet of Divine Mercy – it’s short, less than 7 minutes – so my little ones can usually sit through it and the words are simple enough even a 3-year-old can recite them! We pray it a lot in the car or right before bed. It’s a powerful devotion that pours the grace of Mercy into our family life. A free download on how to pray the Chaplet is available here.
Kirby Hoberg, Under Thy Roof
When I have to pray the Rosary with antsy kids, we do a walking Rosary. Sometimes we just march around the house, sometimes we pace the kitchen for half a Hail Mary, and the dining room for the second half.
Kristi Denoy, Hail Marry
We squeeze prayers of thanksgiving and intercession with the blessing at dinner:
“Bless us, O Lord …
What was your favorite part of the day that you’re thankful for?
*Responses around the table*
Is there anyone or anything you’d like to pray for?
*Responses around the table*
Theresa Conlan, Happy Nest Home Goods
We pray the Rosary while cleaning up after dinner because no one can focus otherwise. Although lately, we’ve been trying to do one decade a night in front of the family altar for a change of pace with our 3-year-old especially. Also, we really try to use sacrifice beads out loud as a family (even though you’d usually do them silently) so that our kids can learn the concept.
Mary Harrell, Domestic Apologist
When we get in the car every morning to head to the store or school, we say a Morning Offering, a Memorare and the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. Since everyone is strapped in, it’s easier for them to focus!
Rosie Hill, A Blog for My Mom
Everybody always really likes doing a family litany of saints, particularly when it helps them stall bedtime as they compete to think up the most obscure saints possible. If we’re strapped for time, they each get to pick three saints.
Katie Warner, KatieWarner.com
Song! With really little ones this is the one guaranteed prayer style that works for us even on the most exhausting of days. “Immaculate Mary” is their favorite. They also like Dad to give them blessings before bed.
Mary Haseltine, MaryHaseltine.com
One thing that has worked really well for our family is using car time well. Almost any time we’re in the car for more than 15 minutes or so, we’ll try to remember to pray the Rosary or sometimes even just a decade. If it happens to be the 3 o’clock hour we’ll do the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Rather than just zoning out and wasting that time, I love that we’re all together (and strapped in, ha!) and we can use those little bits of time to pray and to avail ourselves of some much-needed grace!
Kathryn Wood, The Joyful Leap
We have our phones set to go off at 6 AM, noon, and 6 PM for the Angelus. Also, EWTN has some Rosaries for children on Youtube. And the sung Divine Mercy chaplet is beautiful to listen to and sing along with while doing chores.
Genie Shaw, Barefoot Abbey
Singing the hymns of the Church is one of the easiest ways to help write prayers on the hearts of our children. A simple way we do this in our home is by playing one of the four seasonal Marian antiphons so it’s the last thing our children hear at night. They start singing the Latin along with the monks in no time. The English prayer form is read at supper.
Leah Ackland, The Microvillage
We light a candle for our morning prayers and it helps them try to kneel and focus because I’ll most often call on whoever was well behaved to blow the candle out at the end.
Amy Brooks, Prayer, Wine, Chocolate
We pray before dinner … Grace Before Meals, Most Sacred Heart of Jesus prayer, and the Spiritual Adoption Prayer.
Rita Buettner, The Open Window
When our boys were younger we would print or make coloring sheets with the rosary beads on them so they could color their way through the Rosary and draw pictures of the meditation as they prayed. Praying when we hear a fire engine or ambulance siren has stuck with us even at 8 and 10. And singing songs from church around the house is still popular, even if we don’t get all the words right,
Also, a big thing we try to do is pray as the day unfolds, like “Thank you, God, for the parking space!” “Please, God, help heal this scraped knee!” “Wow, God, how did you make that sunset!” I really want our children to know prayer is an ongoing conversation with God and that he’s always with us
Sara Estabrooks, To Jesus, Sincerely
It can be hard to pray with kids — because they never sit still! When we pray with our kids, we do our best to respect their need for motion and engagement. We appeal to their senses. It helps them to have a holy book to read, saint pictures to color, statues to play with, or a great big cozy snuggle during prayer time.
Kelly Mantoan, This Ain’t the Lyceum
After the table is cleared, at least partially, our family gathers in the living room for family prayer time. We can manage three decades of a Rosary, a litany of Saints, and maybe even a reading on a feast day or season. On any given evening, between my five kids, there is still rosary throwing, arguing, tears or a contest to see who can lead a decade the loudest, but, without hesitation, I would recommend starting a family tradition of a dedicated daily prayer time.
Monica McConkey, Equipping Catholic Families
In my own prayer life, I’ve been discovering that I can use many things as prompts to pray: religious art, daily tasks (washing the dishes) and even my own habits or struggles. It’s my hope to pray throughout the day, making prayer a flowing conversation wih God and ideally, my most natural response when things go awry. This is a work in progress, but my kids (especially my 12- to 22-year-olds) know that I’m working on this and I try to gently remind them to pray throughout their own struggles, frequently and from the heart.
Amy Smith, Motherhood and Miscellany
We add prayers to times when we are already praying, such as meal times. So we do the Morning Offering with Grace before breakfast, along with a prayer to express our intentions to obtain all indulgences available to us that day, then we do the Angelus before our Grace at lunchtime.
Heidi Indahl, Work and Play, Day by Day
The most engaged prayer times at our house are always when we put kids in the leadership roles.
Jessica Marie, Sweet Little Ones
When we pray together in the morning, each kid gets to pick and lead their own prayer. During a family Rosary, we let our kids lead a decade as soon as they know how to say a Hail Mary — they love getting to lead!
Hannah Christensen, Lovely Little Lives
We say night prayers together as a family every night at bedtime. We ask God to bless each member of our family by name, we each day what we are thankful for that day and we pray to our family patron saints.
Laura Rene, Life is Beautiful
Our children are 2 and under so at this age and development, we want to make God and the Faith warm, happy and simple for them! We sing the Hail Mary and bless each other with holy water at bedtime. After our meal prayers, we clap and sing Amen and Alleluia– our 2-year-old loves this! “He who sings prays twice,” right?
Amanda Crane, Our Geeky Adventure
My oldest is only 4, so we’re like, JV-league family prayer. Starting at age 2, when she moved into her “big girl bed,” we started saying the Lord’s Prayer at bedtime. After we finish, we continue a tradition from when I was growing up: “and God bless …” every family member.
Ashley Woleben, Between the Linens
We say the Jesus Prayer matched with breath before bed as a calming activity.
Lindsey West, Uniquely Catholic
To help alleviate our son’s anxiety over the unknown and to help him be more invested in prayer, we ask him how he’d like us to pray during family prayer time. We’ve taught him a handful of the most common Catholic prayers (for example, Our Father, Hail Mary, St. Michael, etc.) and we’ve taught him to how to do more extemporaneous prayers, thanking God for our blessings. He picks, we pray, no battles.
How do you pray as a family? What tips and tricks have worked for you?
Copyright 2018 Ginny Kochis