The Archdiocese of New Orleans
NOLACatholic Parenting: Focus on Prayer
Have you ever felt like you spend more time praying than anything else in life? I adamantly know that I do spend more time praying than anything else in my life. I accept this obligation of blessings all the time.
Everyone in my life, whether it is family, friends, colleagues or someone I just met, knows that I will pray for any special intention. Even if it is an unspoken intention, I will pray for them.
Thus, through my spiritual journey, it took me longer time than necessary to realize this is not a burden but a blessing. I am a vessel to pray for others for their desires and hopes.
Then, one night as we were praying as a family, my oldest daughter asked, “Why do we pray for so many?” In that moment, I realized I did not want her to feel as if prayer is a burden.
I told her how the greatest gift God gave us was prayer. God is the greatest listener and will listen to anything at any time. Prayer is a blessing to serve others by praying for them.
Then, my daughter said, “OK, I have a prayer list.” She had a prayer list of her own. Next time you pray with your children, ask them if they know why it is important to pray, especially for others?
Let us pray, “Loving and listening God, teach me to be bold in my prayers that I may pray to you about anything.”
Prayer is a gift and a blessing that we may receive, and we may give.
Occasions of Prayer
Before I had my own children, I read an inspiring Facebook post from a NOLACatholic mom and friend about how when her children heard sirens, no matter what they were doing, they would stop and pray for all of those affected.
I remember thinking, I want my children to do that. too!
Now that I have my own children, and four out of five are rather well versed in the prayers, I am happy to say that whenever we hear a siren – whether we are playing in the backyard or riding in the car – it is the impetus for my children to stop and pray for those who need help and those who are coming to their aid.
Our prayer of choice for this occasion is usually St. Michael the Archangel, but my 6-year-old has led off with, “The Lord is my shepherd,” a few times, and who am I to stop her?
I sought this exercise to instill in my children the value of praying for others in my children and to help them learn that prayer should not be relegated to morning or bedtime.
And, while I think it achieves that goal, it has done something oh so much more for me. Now, find myself praying throughout the day for myself and for those around me. I find that there are occasions of prayer everywhere if we allow ourselves to recognize them.
So, NOLACatholic moms and dads, what are your stories of finding occasions of prayer?
A Prayer Group at Home
Throughout my life, I have most often prayed alone. Of course, I go to Mass and pray before meals with my family. I also say morning and evening prayers with my child.
Other than that, my daily time of personal reflection and prayer is usually alone. I have very little experience with the power of group prayer and, frankly, did not know what I was missing.
Last October, I learned that my first grader would be tested on the Hail Mary in November. Being that it was the month of the rosary, I thought it would be a terrific idea to begin saying the rosary together as a family nightly. Thinking, in the process, my child would learn the prayer – with our family receiving the added benefit of spiritual strengthening within our home!
When I announced our new plans for the evenings in October, I was so grateful that my family’s response was wholeheartedly positive. Praise God, the Holy Spirit has been with us; their enthusiasm has not yet wavered. No matter what has happened during the day or what challenges might have come between us, when it is time for rosary, our family is coming together.
It is such a blessing to unite, unconditionally, with respect for each other and for our faith and in devotion to our Mother Mary.
Well, it turns out, my child already knew the Hail Mary! He is so proud to confidently participate in our family rosary and enthusiastic about holding the rosary to keep us on track. His pure and steadfast devotion has enriched our prayerful experience immensely.
Praying the rosary as a family each night has brought grace into our home. And, by joining together, I feel that my prayers are being amplified.
While I have never been drawn to join a prayer group, it seems I have one now!
-Charla Spalluto Misse
A Couple Who Prays Together
Five moves, two jobs, two states and four kids.
Many things have changed in IO years of marriage, but one thing has remained consistent.
Shortly after we started dating, I asked Casey if I could pray with her.
This started a trend for our life together that has set a foundation for everything we do.
At that time, I couldn’t have ever thought this would be so important, but now I look back and realize that praying with Casey every single day, and I mean every single day, has been the cause for our joys and successes in marriage.
We don’t have a perfect marriage. We have a very good marriage, and I think it is 100% because God has blessed us for our willingness to remain connected with him.
Honestly, there are many nights we pray when it is stale, flat or honestly, Casey has fallen asleep. But we still pray.
He honors whatever we can give to Him in that moment. Couple prayer doesn’t have to be elaborate. It’s simply a “surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and love, embracing both trial and joy” (St. Therese of Lisieux).
Try to cry out to God with your spouse. He’ll honor it no matter what it looks like.
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