16/20 The Family That Prays Together

Q3:  LIFE Choices (Choices That Promote Life)

TOPIC 3:  LIFE-GIVING FAMILIES

SESSION 1  The Family That Prays Together

 

  1. What Is Prayer? (Dennis Billy)
  • It’s God communicating with us personally.
  • It’s a dialogue with the Father, Son and Spirit.
  • It is not an “escape from the world” but a lodestar (a guide) so that we can pour ourselves out for and in the world.  If our prayer is authentic, it will open us up to the needs of the world.
  • It is an attitude of conversion (where we are changed in God’s presence), a flight from ourselves towards God.  We focus on God and consequently, defocus on ourselves.  We give God what is due Him:  a listening human heart.
  • It’s an openness to God which begins with humility.
  • In prayer, we see things as they truly are.  We realize our total dependency on God.  Over time, in prayer, the illusions of us being independent of God (that we can take on life without Him) fall away and we see the truth clearly.
  • In prayer, God reveals Himself to us and molds us into the mind of Christ.  The longer our presence in prayer, the more we become like Christ.
  • Prayer teaches us to listen.  For when we listen, we come to a deeper knowledge of ourselves and of our responsibilities before God and others.

 

  1. Why Do We Need to Pray?  Some reasons are:
  • For our sake, not God’s.  God doesn’t need our prayers.  They don’t add anything to God.  But WE need to pray.
  • We were made for God and yearn to connect with Him.
  • To know how to be sensitive to the needs of our neighbor and what the needs of the world are
  • To change into someone better, to be more ourselves because God’s presence changes us
  • To diminish the illusions that we are self-sufficient, and know the truth of our total dependence on God
  • To be sensitive to God and listen which will lead us to peace, when the world is so “sated” (filled with) with too much talk
  • Jesus needed to pray.  All the more do we!

 

  1. Why the Need to Pray As A Family?
  • When prayer unites us with God, it also unites us as a family.  (“For when two or more are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”  Mt. 18,20)
  • It strengthens us as a family.
  • It’s spiritual bonding time for the family.
  • It makes us go out of ourselves and out of our family to pray for others.
  • It’s a spread of love through spiritual channels.
  • It makes us conscious of our participation in the communion of saints.  The saints in heaven pray for us.  We pray for the dead and for others.  It’s a communion of a lot of prayer, which means a lot of love.
  • Intercession is a very important part of the prayer life of Christians, when we pray for others.

 

  1. What Happens When We Don’t Pray As A Family?
  • Your family loses the opportunity to bond.
  • You lose the opportunity to be blessed by the prayer and to bless others.
  • You lose sight of the more important things, which is God and our spiritual lives and our neighbor.
  • You become less sensitive to think about others’ needs and the virtue of sharing even your prayer time for others.
  • You lose the opportunity of passing on a beautiful Catholic tradition.
  • You have more time for attachments, useless pursuits, secular practices that may not be good for your eternal/spiritual life.

 

  1. Practical Suggestions on How The Family Can Pray Together

Children learn their first prayers from their parents.  This passes on a wonderful tradition of love and spirituality that they will hang on to even in their adult years.  Here are suggestions for a better family prayer time:

  • Start off with formula prayers that are memorized.  These are good for groups like a family.
  • The rosary is always a good prayer as a family.  Let older kids lead if they have memorized the prayers.  Go slower in saying the prayers, especially the Hail Mary’s if you are with younger children.  (They won’t pray if you are “going too fast.”
  • Wonderful family prayers include:
    • Prayer Before Meals.  (Allow variety.  Try having different family members lead if they’re used to the prayer.  Some religious stores sell prayer meal cards, which is a set of different prayers you can say for each meal depending on the card you pick.)
    • Prayer Before Trips.  Bring in “Our Lady of the Way” to keep the trip safe and good.
    • After Dinner Prayers:  Allow time for thanksgiving and praise, where each family member shares what he/she is thankful for today.  Allow time for petitions, where each family member can pray for something he/she needs, or better yet, pray for someone else in the family who has a need.
    • Prayer Before Sleeping:  It’s good to accompany little kids in their prayers so they pick up the habit from you and see the importance of prayer.

 

  • The Church considers both personal/individual prayers and group prayers as essential in our spiritual growth and spiritual life.  However, group prayers must never take the place of
  • Fr. Peyton reminds us:   “The family that prays together, stays together!”
  • Pray as a family.  Remember the power of prayer!  It can save your lives.

 

Resource:

Conscience and Prayer:  The Spirit of Catholic Moral Theology  by Dennis J. Billy, C.Ss.R