halfway there: family prayer

We’re now halfway through the season of Lent. (Don’t ask me; I don’t know how it happened either. Apparently it’s April.)

In a renewed sense of determination to make more time for prayer in this second half of Lent (sometimes my own postings kick me in the rear to get motivated), I decided to start this morning not with the work I planned to jump into while S was still sleeping, but with a more deliberate morning prayer.

For years I have loved this website from Creighton University’s campus ministries that offers short, daily prayers for the season of Lent. In addition to their regular morning prayer (and lots of other offerings), they have a reflection on the readings of the day written by a member of their community: a professor, a student, a campus minister. I love the diversity of their reflections. So it was nice to find my way back there (after, admittedly, a few weeks).

Today after I prayed through their morning prayer, I noticed a link for “Family Prayer” on the side of the page. Ever curious, I clicked. What a great resource of ideas & inspirations! For those of us (all of us?) who struggle to know how to pray with our spouses and kids, there are many easy suggestions for getting started:

  • Change your pattern for daily grace. How many of us sit down, rattle off the “Bless us, O Lord” and don’t think one bit about what we’re saying? Yours truly can often fall into that category. So a while back (a year? six months? help me out here, F), F & I decided to give up the rote prayer for meals. Now we take turns (depending on who’s less tired and scatter-brained, honestly) leading our own impromptu prayers of thanksgiving and grace before meals. While it continues to throw off people who join us for dinner, we like that it makes us more mindful and helps us reflect on the day.
  • Pray in the morning with your spouse while you’re both still laying in bed. Great idea. Too bad F gets up way earlier than either he or God want to hear from me…
  • Squeeze in a quick prayer in the car en route to work / school / errands. My mom used to pray the same simple prayer with us every morning on the drive to school: “Good morning, dear Jesus, this day is for you. And I ask you to bless all I think, say, and do.” As I got into junior high,  I thought it was the Worst, Cheesiest, Most Embarrassing Thing One Could Possibly Inflict On One’s Offspring Before School. And now S and I pray the same prayer every morning before he gets out of bed. Go figure. (Thanks, Mom.)
  • Light a candle on your dining room table to remember someone in prayer. How often do family members ask us to pray for them? Scary medical news, job frustrations, relationship troubles, tough decisions to make. And we usually say, “Of course,” and hopefully remember to pray for them at some point during the day. But I like this idea of lighting a candle on the dinner table especially for the family member in need and holding them close to us as we gather for meals.
  • Try a new, simple ritual. I love the idea of tracing the cross on a child’s head for special moments of blessing or at the end of the day. Kids love ritual. And so do adults. I’ve never forgotten a study I read that showed that couples who kiss before they part ways for work in the morning have a much lower rate of divorce than those who don’t kiss goodbye. Ever since I read that, I never let F get out the door in the morning without a big hug from me (even though 95% of the time I am still groggy in bed). If we miss that ritual, I feel “off” all day long.

So check out Creighton’s site for suggestions for family prayer. I always love collecting good online resources for parenting and spirituality: they are few and far-between!

Happy second half of Lent to you…

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