Howard be thy name?!?… the Our Father for kids

If you listen to a kid pray the Lord’s Prayer, it is super cute “our father who art in heaven, Howard be thy name”… until you realize that she has no idea what she is saying.  Even for adults, it is easy to zip through the prayer without meaning the words because they are different from the terms we usually speak.  So, here’s a translation for a 9 year old:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
God, you are our father.  You are in heaven. Continue reading “Howard be thy name?!?… the Our Father for kids”

Give from God’s Strength

I’ve found myself feeling pulled in a million directions and failing people at every turn.  People who have a legitimate right to my love and attention- friends, parents, children, spouse, neighbors, school administrators… are often cut short and do not get what they deserve from me.  This is true also of the orphan, the widow, the poor, the sick, the friendless – people who I read about, who I pass on the street, who I know are out there.  Like everyone else in this world, I need to learn that I am limited.  Yet, my own smallness enables me to humbly tap into God’s eternal love. Continue reading “Give from God’s Strength”

Give from God’s Strength

I’ve found myself feeling pulled in a million directions and failing people at every turn.  People who have a legitimate right to my love and attention- friends, parents, children, spouse, neighbors, school administrators… are often cut short and do not get what they deserve from me.  This is true also of the orphan, the widow, the poor, the sick, the friendless – people who I read about, who I pass on the street, who I know are out there.  Like everyone else in this world, I need to learn that I am limited.  Yet, my own smallness enables me to humbly tap into God’s eternal love. Continue reading “Give from God’s Strength”

Practice of the Presence of God

Wouldn’t it be nice to live with continual loving awareness that God is with you – and for you?

When Brother Lawrence (a 17th century Carmelite Monk) was gazing at a tree in winter, he was suddenly struck by the realization that in a few months this seemingly dead appearance would wonderfully be in full bloom.  This thought conveyed to him the grandeur of God and he never forgot it but always from that moment lived with awe, confidence, humility and love before such a God.

His experience begins to touch on what I think is the heart of it all – Communion.  We talk about it in tons of ways- LOVE, union, live in love with God, God’s life in us, in him we live and move and have our being- but the unique aspect that Brother Lawrence has illuminated for me is the continual nature of it- the ever presence of God and in turn, the ever presence of my love for him.  Brother Lawrence calls it “the Practice of the Presence of God.”

Continue reading “Practice of the Presence of God”

Mass Prayers at Home

Praying some of the prayers from Mass at home connects us to the grace of the altar, as well as helps kids to participate more easily at Mass.  Here are a few that can be integrated into a family.  They are jumbled up a bit so you can use them progressively, morning, day and evening.  As a side note- sometimes a little research on each of these prayers goes a long way in my own heart.

The Sanctus
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Continue reading “Mass Prayers at Home”

Mom’s Bedtime Prayer

There is a wellspring of things to offer to God and receive from him by simply looking at your life.  This prayer never seems to get old because life is so full and God is so active.  Here is my version of this “examen” or “reviewing of my day with God.”  Most of it was passed on to me by some great Jesuits.  5-7 minutes is an ideal amount of time for this prayer but depending upon circumstances, it can take between 30 seconds to 30 minutes.  Whether you pray with words, feelings or images, lift up everything to God, bringing your life into the loving Light of Christ.   Periodically you can adapt this to review a certain season in your life instead of just a day.

Prayerful Review of the Day

Pray for Light

  • Ask that you can look at this day and offer it to God in His grace.
  • “Holy Spirit, please enlighten my mind so I may see this day you gave me in truth and love.”

From this day, for what am I most thankful? / What gifts did God give today?/ Where do I see God’s grace active in this day? 

  • Converse with Jesus about these things and listen to what these good things mean in your life.
  • “Thank you… Jesus, you are… This is special because…”
  • Allow gratitude to well up.  Offer it back to the Father with love.

From this day, for what am I least thankful? / What needs to be converted?/ What was a challenge?

  • Converse with Jesus about these things and listen to what needs healing.
  • “Please forgive me… I’m sad… Please help…”
  • Offer it back to the Father with love.

Tomorrow with Christ

  • Converse with Jesus about how God wants to (or has already) equip you for tomorrow.
  • “What concept, scripture verse or resolution shall I carry in my heart for tomorrow?”
  • Make a tiny resolution about your own action for tomorrow.  Ask for God’s grace to fulfill it.

Grateful Hearts- Mealtime Grace

Having a small handful of memorized meal time prayers can keep grace focused yet easy – without being rote.

Grateful hearts prayer: Give us grateful hearts, O Father, for all your kindness and make us mindful of the needs of others.  Amen.

Sign Language Prayer: I give myself to your beautiful love.  I want to be good with your grace from above.  Your cross will guide all I do and say.  Lord Jesus Christ, please hold my hand today. (find the signs for the words in italics at www.handspeak.com.)

Traditional Meal Time: Bless us O Lord, and these thy gifts, which we are about to receive from thy bounty through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Everything: Thank you, God, for feet to run, thank you for my play and fun, for eyes to see for hands to lift, for food to eat and every gift that make me strong and wish to sing thank you God for EVERYTHING!

Family Prayer

Here is a family prayer guide that can take from 5-15 minutes which can be adapted for zillions of situations.  Of course, it is even more fun and habitually reinforcing if you add sweets to the event or a nice setting like a fireplace.  Sunday is a natural choice for a day to do this but it can be any time.  Having a job for each member makes it truly feel like a “family” prayer.  Try it once.  Then try it again.

Family Prayer

 

Sleepless Retreat

Jesus often would withdraw to the lonely places to pray to his father in solitude.  This kind of prayer often preceded big moments in his mission – beginning public ministry, the bread of life discourse, his passion…  When people were clamoring for Jesus, the Spirit led him to places like the top of a mountain or by a lake or in the desert.  I don’t know about you but it is not often I can take some time alone in any of those places.  For a busy parent the only place of solitude can seem to be the bathroom and a locked door is necessary even for that.  Surely more is needed!  There are many creative ways to find this needed prayer and retreat with our father but additionally, I have found that the Spirit guides me to a retreat in the middle of the night.  Have you ever been woken by something in the middle of the night only to lie awake for hours?  Usually very irksome but if I participate in this opportunity with love and a joyful expectation of meeting God, the silence of sleeplessness nights is more restorative than sleep itself.  Perhaps this is God’s fatherly conversation before something important, even if that is just the mundane but eternally important mission of loving our children well.

Lullaby

Singing a hymn for your baby every time you put her down to sleep has many benefits:

  • it establishes a peaceful routine,
  • you are teaching her to pray,
  • there is a special song in her heart,
  • you get to beautifully tap into God multiple times during the day,
  • the words of the song take on numerous meanings.

If you use the same song every time then this becomes almost a magical song for her and will bring peace even much much later in life when she hears it.  This baby song makes an easy “go to” for prayer as a toddler.