Teaching Kids To Pray: Common Catholic Prayers
Sara is one of those down-to-earth, lovers of Christ and His Church that always inspires me to practice my faith more fully. Her site, To Jesus, Sincerely, sums up her passion to give her Maker everything with all of her heart. I particularly love reading about how she practices her faith with small children. Since I am Protestant and have no children here on earth, I was thrilled that Sara agreed to share her perspective here what she does as a Catholic mother of three to pass on her faith by encouraging a vibrate prayer life amongst her little ones.
Be sure to read part 1 “Teaching Kids to Pray: A Catholic Perspective.“
Common Catholic Prayers
The Catholic Church has a rich tradition of prayer that may seem unfamiliar and strange from the outside. But with a little closer inspection, the scriptural roots of many of these prayers are uncovered.The Catholic Church has a rich tradition of prayer that may seem unfamiliar and strange from the outside. But with a little closer inspection, the scriptural roots of many of these prayers are uncovered. Click To Tweet
Some of these prayers have become integral parts of our family prayer life.
Attending Mass as a Family
The Holy Mass is centered around the gift of the Eucharist (Holy Communion) given to us by Jesus at the Last Supper.
At every Mass, we listen to readings from the Bible: the Old and New Testaments and the Gospel. We pray a Psalm together.
The Liturgy leads up to the high point: receiving Holy Communion.
Catholics believe that Holy Communion is more than a symbol. We believe that Jesus actually comes to us under the appearances of bread and wine, as He said, “This is my body… this is my blood…” (Matt 26: 26 – 28).
This holy union of God and man is the focal point of our faith. So we make Sunday Mass a top priority in our family. We bring the kids, sit up front, and do our best to help them know what’s going on: that Jesus is coming down from Heaven to give Himself to us.
It’s not always easy to bring the kids, but the Mass the ultimate example of how much Jesus loves us, and how we should love Him in return. A vital aspect of prayer to teach our kids.
Praying the Family Rosary
The Rosary is a scripture-based prayer that revolves around the events in Jesus’ life. On the surface, the Rosary seems like a boring, repetitive prayer. We say repeated rounds of “Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be” prayers.
The Our Father is a prayer given to us directly from Jesus. The Hail Mary is a prayer based on the Angel Gabriel’s greeting to Mary, and her cousin Elizabeth’s exclamation, both found in Luke 1. The Glory Be is a prayer of praise to the Holy Trinity.
Think of these repeated prayers as the cadence, or background, of the Rosary.
The meat of this prayer comes from diving into the Mysteries – the outline of events in Jesus’ life. From the Annunciation, to the miracles, the Last Supper, death, and Resurrection, we reflect on 20 major “Mysteries.”
For our family, we pray anywhere from one to five mysteries before bedtime every night. Sometimes we read corresponding Bible texts as we reflect and pray. Other times, we talk about how the mysteries relate to events in our life.
he kids often use illustrated Rosary books, with a picture for each mystery or prayer.
Many different ways to pray
While there are many different ways to pray, Catholics identify some major categories. These types of prayer remind us that talking to God is about more than asking for things that we want.
We encourage our children to pray in a variety of ways by modeling these types of prayer and praying them together as a family.
Praying in adoration
Adoration comes from the word “adore.” Think about looking at someone lovingly. Adoration can also be called worship, and this type of prayer may only be directed towards God.
While we can worship or adore God at any time, Catholics have a special time of prayer called Adoration.
This is when we spend time in a church with the Eucharist (Holy Communion) displayed. We simply sit with Jesus, who is truly there, and give Him all our love.
Adoration is a good opportunity to teach our children to love and worship Jesus outside of Sunday church. We “stop by to see Jesus” just like we would stop by to visit our best friend.
Praying in Contrition
Contrition is when we pray in sorrow for our sins.
As Catholics, our most common form of this prayer is in Confession. In Confession, we admit that our holiness is still a work in progress by confessing our sinfulness to a priest. The priest stands in for Jesus and hears our confession under a vow of secrecy.
We teach our children that confession isn’t so much about what we did wrong, but about forgiveness and repairing our relationship with Jesus.We teach our children that confession isn't so much about what we did wrong, but about forgiveness and repairing our relationship with Jesus. Click To Tweet
We take them with us when we go every month. We also practice asking each other for forgiveness and praying in contrition between confessions.
Praying in Petition
Perhaps the most popular type of prayer, petition is when we pray asking God for what we want or need.
When we pray in petition with our kids, we try to be mindful about leaving the door open to God’s will. We know that God always has our greatest good in mind, so our requests should reflect that.
For example, “Please help Daddy get this job if it’s Your will, Jesus.”
Sometimes our kids ask God for ridiculous things, and that’s okay. I look at those moments as building their trust in God’s omnipotence: His infinite power.
Our children will grow to learn that God can do all things, but He’s not a magic genie. He will only “grant our wishes” according to His Divine Providence.
Praying in Thanksgiving
Prayer of thanksgiving is too often overlooked. I have to be intentional about thanking God for every day and reminding our kids to do the same.
It only takes a moment to thank God for a beautiful day, a fun playdate, or an unexpected blessing.
Sometimes in our family, we each take turns praying for one thing we’re thankful for. It could be health or blessings or puppies or unicorns. We could find ourselves thankful for our children’s beautiful imaginations as they explore what they’re thankful for.
Praying in Intercession
Intercession is when we pray for someone else’s needs. We’ve been on both sides of this prayer. We often pray for people in need, and we’ve asked others for prayers for our needs plenty of times.
Catholics do something interesting and often misunderstood when it comes to intercession: we ask Mary and the Saints to pray for us.
The way we look at it, if we can ask live people to pray for us, then it would be helpful to ask those already in heaven – who see God face to face – to pray for us, too.
Our kids love stories of the Saints, and we try to find opportunities to encourage them to ask the Saints for their intercession.
For example, when we get in the car we always say, “St. Christopher, pray for us,” because he’s the patron Saint of travelers.
A Life of Prayer
When teaching our kids to pray, the most important thing to remember is that it’s not about us.
It’s not about checking this task off our daily to-do list. It’s not about forcing our children to sit still and quiet so we can relax and think.If kids see prayer time as a chore, they may resent it as much as tasking out the trash. What's important is helping our children build a living relationship with Jesus. Encouraging them to get familiar with talking to Him, turning… Click To Tweet
If kids see prayer time as a chore, they may resent it as much as tasking out the trash.
We don’t have to be perfect at implementing family prayer time – I’m certainly not.
What’s important is helping our children build a living relationship with Jesus. Encouraging them to get familiar with talking to Him, turning to Him.
We simply ask Jesus to give us the grace we need to lead our children to Him, and trust Him to take it from there.
Dear Jesus, help our children experience family prayer as a time of being showered with great love – our love as parents, and Your love for them, dear God. Help them learn to return Your great love, and cherish their prayer life that leads them to You.
Hi, I’m Sara! A former teacher, sometimes artist, Catholic wife, and mom of 4. I’m here to open wide the doors of my heart and let you in on my joys, my struggles, my questions, and my life lessons. My goal is to grow in kindness, love, and prayer, and invite you to grow along with me. I’m moving forward step by step every day, and I’m so happy you’re joining me on this journey. Find me at To Jesus, Sincerely.