Gosh, I love new lessons! This one was particularly fun to write because I learned a lot and because I got help from several families who successfully put these methods into practice with children of all ages. Special thanks to Donna, Stephanie, and Emily for their very practical suggestions!
People have been praying to God since the dawn of creation and in all that time have developed some very creative, effective, and satisfying methods of prayer. Some of them have survived the test of time and even though they are very ancient, they are still embraced today. We focus on three of them in this lesson. The goal is for you, parents, to learn about all three but then choose one to focus on now with your family.
NOVENAS: In a nutshell, a novena is typically nine days of prayer in a row, for a special intention (asking or thanking). Novenas are still a very popular form of prayer and there are hundreds to choose from, most asking for intercession from Mary or a particular Saint. There are three novenas included in this lesson, one asking the prayers of your patron Saint, one to the Infant Jesus, and one asking the prayers of Saint Therese. Take a look and choose one of them.
A word of warning on novenas – It is pretty common to remember to pray for the first few days and then forget one or two. Don’t be discouraged! Simply pick it up again the next day and continue until your nine are complete. Obviously, there is a value to developing the discipline to pray daily, but God will not give you a failing grade if you don’t do things perfectly and it is not a lucky charm that only “works” if you do it right. (But of course you already knew that.J)
LECTIO DIVINA: Arguably, the best spiritual reading you can possibly do is to read Scripture and Lectio Divina takes that a step further to help you pray through the reading and listen to what God is telling you there. There are many variations but they all include the same parts: reading, listening, praying and contemplating. Before you look at this method and think it’s impossible for your squirrely kids to listen and meditate, keep going to pages 7 and 8 of the lesson where we share all sorts of adaptions and suggestions that will make it possible for your family.
LITURGY OF THE HOURS: Liturgy is the the rites and prayers that make up the public worship of the universal Catholic Church. In the same way, this form of prayer is one that people all over the world are constantly praying together. Think about how you can go to Mass anywhere in the world and the readings are exactly the same. It’s like that with the Liturgy of the Hours: a cloistered nun in France is praying the exact same prayers as a priest in Africa and your family in your living room. Isn’t that awesome?
The Liturgy of the Hours is mostly centered on the Psalms, but also includes prayers, other Scripture reading, and meditations from spiritual masters. Priests are still required to pray the Divine Office (another name for it), but everyone is invited to pray any or all of the hours. We recommend you try it out with Night Prayer because it is the shortest hour to pray, taking only 5-10 minutes, and may already be a time when your family has established a prayer tradition. We’ve included two prayer guides for Night Prayer for Sunday, but we also highly recommend the online versions noted on page 10 of the lesson. They’re all free and very easy to use. The best part may be that you’ll have an expert to lead you through the steps.