Do you have your Advent wreath and candles ready? I learned a few years ago that I should not pack mine with the Christmas decorations — they would never make it out in time. Instead I store them above the fridge with the Christmas dishes. That way they are easy to get to and quick to grab.
As we head into the season of Advent and preparation it seems like a fitting time to talk about the practice of prayer. I knew going into this project that I would have to refrain from my normal tendencies to give advice. I like to give advice, be it welcome or unwelcome. 😉 In fact, as an oldest child I can be downright bossy. But, and this is a big but, I do not have the props to inform anyone how to do things with this project — I am journeying right along with you.
Having said that, I am going to stretch my neck out a bit here. I think it is pretty safe for me to say, that if you have only one thing on your Area of Focus planner, if you do only one thing with your kids, then that thing should be prayer. The liturgical year, education resources and curriculum, picture books to read all pale in comparison to the importance prayer is to the spiritual development of you and your children. Next to the Mass, participation in prayer is the greatest gift we can give our family.
And yet, we can’t give what we do not yet have ourselves. So in addition to teaching our kids to pray, we have to begin by building our own habits of prayer. Fortunately the Church is rich in opportunities for many different kinds of prayer. From the meditative practices of the rosary to the Liturgy of the Hours to Lectio Divina, there is a style of prayer there for everyone.
So where do we begin? With a planner, of course. Putting our thoughts and ideas onto paper creates a plan. A plan creates motivation to begin. With a reminder that prayer habits are not built under our own power, but only by the grace of God. This is not something we can do by ourselves.
There is a personal prayer planner for mom (or any family member who wants to create their own practices) and a family prayer planner as well. Once again, I have provided three spaces, but feel free not to use all three or to add additional sheets for more. I have decided on three prayer practices I would like to work up to, but am only focusing on implementing one per month. Last month it was morning prayer. This month, an afternoon reflection and time to talk to God in my own words. In the new year, I will work to add evening prayer to my daily schedule.
For family we begin each morning with prayer from Children’s Daily Prayer. We have also been praying the Angelus many noon times, but have yet to make this a habit. In addition I would like to add a decade of the rosary and personal prayer to our evenings. Once again, all a work in progress, but writing it down helps me to begin to build.
Also, be sure to check out the resources page for some of my favorite prayer resources.
Finally, I would love to hear about your prayer goals and practices. How do you pray? How do you pray with your children?