Do you pray as a family before your children's bedtime? If not, I think you should try it.
A regular prayer time starts instilling good prayer habits in our kids, and helps them to realize that they can talk to God about anything and everything. Also, just a few minutes talking to your kids about their day, their triumphs, failures, joys and worries, can bring you closer as a family and help you to understand their needs.
Our prayer time with our young children is very simple. We ask each of them to say one or two things they are thankful for, and something they would've liked to have happened differently in their day. Then, we conclude by having each of them say a set prayer (such as the Our Father, a Hail Mary, the Glory Be, the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, or the Guardian Angel Prayer). We conclude with a short spontaneous prayer by an adult.
Thankfulness is an important. Helping our children be mindful of the gifts God gives us daily has eventually led them to sometimes recognize the gifts God gives them as they are occurring. Being cognizant of God's mercy and grace throughout the day is one way that we can draw closer to Him.
Also important is helping our children to recognize how they might have done something differently. Were they as patient as they could have been with a friend or a stranger? Did they snap at someone or not share as generously as they could have? Looking back on these behaviors and situations helps them to understand how to better love others in their daily lives.
While the benefit of this bedtime routine has been evident from they way our kids have responded to it, in better understanding their blessings and failings, it has been beneficial to us as parents and children of God as well, and useful in reflecting upon our own blessings and failings. The process we use is a (very) simplified version of the Ignatian Examen. Check out this blog post at Loyola Press for more information. I suggest praying this with your spouse at the end of the day. It will bring you closer to God and closer to each other.
How does your family pray? What have you learned from praying as a family? Leave some comments to let us know!
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