Prayer in Family Life

father and son praying togetherOver the last few months, I’ve had the opportunity to be with many groups discussing my book, Busy Lives & Restless Souls. Inevitably, after discussing how to make time for prayer in each person’s life, the conversation turns to, “How do we incorporate prayer in our family’s life?”

I always chuckle and say, “I am not expert in how to incorporate prayer in family life, since so much of what we do is figuring it out as we go.”

Our family uses a core value statement to guide our desire to make prayer part of our family life: As a family, we seek to root our life in God. This principle, combined with the understanding that we are the primary educators of our children’s faith, is our catalyst for building a foundation of prayer in our children’s lives. Our goal is to teach our children a wide variety of prayer tools that they can hopefully use throughout their lives.

Here are four ways we help our children build a prayer toolbox:

  1. Christian Music: Our family enjoys music, and one of the varieties of music we expose our children to is Christian music. There are playlists on our phones that include our family favorites, and as we discover new selections we add them to the rotation.
  2. Prayer Box: We take turns leading night prayer in our family. Recently, we made a prayer box that includes prayer tools and resources such as books (prayer books, storybooks, and books on saints), candles, paper and pencils, a Bible, rosaries, question cards, and a prayer cube. (The child rolls this cube that has prayers on each side and says the prayer on the side on which it lands.) The prayer box helps whomever is leading prayer have resources to lead.
  3. Prayer Bowl: A family member gave us a prayer bowl to collect small cards on which we write our intentions for other people. We remember the intentions as part of our prayer.
  4. Prayer Methods: My husband and I try to expose our children to various prayer methods including spontaneous prayer, memorized prayer, praying the Rosary, reading the Bible, listening to music, praying for others, and even praying the Examen.

Our children’s ability to participate and lead prayer matures as they get older. Giving them the chance to lead prayer increases their buy-in and also expands our repertoire of prayer methods we utilize in our family.

As a mother, I’m very curious to hear from others: What do you do to incorporate prayer in family life?


  1. I am a grandparent of three ages two to six. They are normally with us during the Christmas holidays and on Thursday we have an hour of intersession where we pray for our Parish and the needs of our friends and neighbours. Its lovely when the eldest boy then five wanted topray
    for his friends teachers and cousins. The other two then want to pray as well. When we say the rosary on the other days before supper he wants to sing all the Our Fathers. The parents are so amazed with this little one that they join in the prayers just to hear him sing. Angie I like the bowl of Thorn Bud and Rose. What a wonderful way to keep the family in prayer and conversation. Just beautiful. Learnt so much.

  2. My first wife died in 1998 and I remarried in 2002 so that I now have a double family with 7 children aged from 36 to 57 and 17 grandchildren aged from 2 going on 3 to 21. At all family gatherings where we share a meal we say grace and just about everyone waits for it before we start eating. Most of the grandchildren do not go to church schools, which is sad, but they are always reminded about the Trinity when we bless ourselves and pray grace.

  3. I think we shouldn’t try to be too sophisticated but accept some ismple ” old fashioned ” ideas. IKf you encourage your children to say a morning offering ( offer their day, commt themself to Jesus ) even in their own simple words as a matter of habit on waking then you have encouraged them to be in touch with God at the start of each day. And family saying grace before meals?? It may be a ” little ” thing but you could tick a box that says ” prayed to gether today? ” yes. And idtto if they know one night prayer to say before goign to sleep. I leanrt a simple one ( in poem form ) as a child but later in life realised it had encouraged me to have a prayer habit. If yo did all that ( a few minutes, that is all ) then you ahve had three prayer slots with your children per day.Better still if instead of ” saying ‘ the poem prayer by heart you sing it with them and they learn to sing too. Remember St Augustin ” the one who sings prays twice. ” Children remember more easily what is put to music. And of course all those other ideas you are all saying – books, etc stries of saints etc all that is also true. Let’s not beat ourselves up for not having mroe time. Keep it simple.

  4. My grandchildren all live out of town, but one thing I make sure to do when I’m with them is to pray grace before meals, even when we’re eating in a restaurant. At first they were a little uncomfortable with public prayer, but have now gotten used to it and wait to begin eating until we first pray.

  5. Children have a great capacity for the spiritual life when given time and sacred space to enjoy God. Just like teaching any new language to children, begin with simple words: Alleluia! Holy, Holy, Holy! Any words of gratitude and love also. The youngest children have shown a deep response to Jesus through the image of the Good Shepherd, who loves his sheep. Add a picture or simple statue to a sacred space in your home or on a prayer table. And of course, SING! For more info, consider to learn more about this method.

  6. We do a version of Rose, Bud, Thorn at the dinner table every evening. A “Rose” is something good that happened today; a “Thorn” is something that you wished would have gone better. A “Bud” is something you are looking forward to in the future. My daughter added a “Hope” which is similar but often different from our “Bud”. Our most recent and most enriching addition has been our “God moment”, or a moment you saw God, felt God’s presence, were overwhelmed with gratitude, etc. I am continually humbled by the ways in which my children commune with God in their daily lives.

  7. As a grandparent I find that what I did not have time do with my children I’m implementing with our grandchildren. Today parents are struggling to keep the family on schedule and together – you name it from pre-school to extra curricular activities that are part of an every busy parents schedule.
    When it comes to the spiritual side for young families I think it is important for the grandparents to pitch in. It may be something as little as taking the grandchildren to a children’s mass each week.
    Our responsibilities once our children are out making their way in their own lives does not end. Having our grandchildren know that prayer is an important part of the grandparents life goes a long way in setting a future example.


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