The first post in this series comes from my friend Eric Parker.
Morning and evening prayer with kids never goes exactly according to plan. I honestly don’t enjoy it nearly as much as private prayer, but that’s not really the point. It’s for the spiritual formation of the family as a whole – praying together is staying together, in body and soul. In terms of sticking with it, I suggest having a place set apart specifically for prayers. That’s not always possible but it is ideal. Gather around the dinner table or beside a prayer desk, for example. And, keep it short.
If you have small children like I do, it helps to have responsorials to keep the kids attentive and participating. Before prayer I usually say “The Lord be with you” and they respond “and also with you.” In the evening I often pray a confession of sins followed by the sursum corda:
M: Lift up your hearts!
R: We lift them up to the Lord.
M: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
R: It is right to do so.
You may find other helpful responsorials in the Book of Common Prayer orders for morning and evening prayer.
In our house we begin with a brief responsorial (“The Lord be with you”), then we pray the Lord’s Prayer, then I read a brief passage of Scripture, which I explain and apply to our day, asking questions intermittently in a sort of catechetical style. After the brief discussion of Scripture, I pray one or two slightly longer prayers, then we conclude by singing a song (usually the Sanctus) and giving the kiss of peace. The scripture lesson in the morning is usually the Gospel lesson from the previous Sunday (from the 1940 lectionary) found in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer – note: I usually modernize the English as I’m reading. At night we read an Old Testament passage from the lectionary out of our illustrated children’s Bible (a really superb edition by Nelda Hoyt Banek). It takes about ten minutes and so we can do it right before heading out in the morning or sending the kids to bed at night. For evening prayer at night we begin with a song and we add candlelight, which the kids love, because they get to blow them out at the end.
Eric Parker is a Ph.D. student at McGill University. His research focuses on the group of 17th century English theologian/philosophers known as the Cambridge Platonists.