Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christian Prayer – How to Pray as a Family

In the "New Covenant" made by our Creator God with humanity (Jeremiah 31:31-34) every person can know God from within - because the Holy Spirit is revealing our Creator to all who are willing to know the Lord and trust in Him. We can still help each other along the way; so may you be pleased to find here a variety of helps to the life of faith in God through Jesus Christ. G.S.

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Christian Prayer – How to Pray as a Family 

For busy parents with children of varying ages – a simple approach to prayer

Prayer is visiting with God – the Creator of the Universe – who is always present. Jesus revealed God to be a Divine Being that is a Trinity, a Community of Divine Persons: the Father, the Son – who became human through Mary and is named Jesus – and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit guides us interiorly in our own spirit.

PRELIMINARY NOTES FOR ALL WHO PRAY

1.      BUSY PRAYER IN THE DUTY OF THE MOMENT: Our life is complex in many dimensions. We can pray – visit with God – anywhere, anytime: in bed, in the shower, as we prepare food, before / after a meal, commuting to and from work, pausing a moment during work, at play…. CAUTION: If you pray as a family in the car, driver, pay attention to the road!

2.      PRAYER OF SILENCE: Friends of God find Him in silence, not the absence of noise, but in the silence we learn to keep within ourselves, quieting our mind, heart, and spirit, like a baby in the parent’s lap. The parents teach and mentor their children to notice thoughts and feelings, let them go, and return attention to the prayer. It is comforting to know that God knows everything that is happening within us and cares for us.

3.      OTHER FORMS OF PRAYER: You can pray with Scripture, the Word of God in the Bible; or with the Mysteries of the Rosary; or at Holy Mass; or TO God WITH the saints to help you pray; or written prayers.

4.      PRAYER TIME & PLACE: Choose a time and place to visit with God by setting aside any other activity.

5.      IT IS THE HOLY SPIRIT WHO REALLY DOES THE PRAYING WITHIN US: Let the Holy Spirit carry you in the praying, especially when you are doing something else. At all times it is really the Holy Spirit who prays in us, and if we want, the Holy Spirit can give us the grace to relax; so we don’t need to “strain the brain” at all, and the Holy Spirit teaches us how to allow the prayer to “echo” within our spirit.

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ACTUALLY PRAYING TOGETHER AS A FAMILY

6.      “BE NOT AFRAID!” Remember: God, revealed to us by Jesus of Nazareth, is a “Divine Being” in whom is a “community” of Divine Persons: the Father, his Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit; yet God is a single Divine Being. God will always remain mysterious to us, but what’s life without mystery?

7.      DECIDE: Parents decide or anyone can ask to pray as a family, and in this way visit together with God.

8.      ASK: Ask the Holy Spirit to be with you as a family and help you to pray, to visit with the Holy Trinity.

9.      ENTER INTO YOUR PRAYER METHOD: In silent prayer together using a “holy word”, learn to “breathe” the word in and out, letting your breath and word “sync” to relax and rest in the Lord.
OR Select a
Scripture text and read slowly, “ponder” the words, let them touch your mind, heart, spirit.
OR Pray the
Rosary with Mary while meditating on the Mysteries of Jesus in the Holy Rosary. OR…

10.  “WORRY NOT – ENJOY”: You can almost hear Yoda say this to you. Just let whatever comes into your mind or heart – worries, ideas, emotions, resolutions, anxieties, lists or whatever – as you notice it wanting to occupy you, just let it drop, fall away… you will be able to find it or pick it up again later. Enjoy the presence and the love of God the Father, his Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Parents teach children to do this.

11.  AT THE END GIVE THANKS: Say “Thank You, Lord… or Father… or Jesus… or Holy Spirit.”

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PRAYING AS A FAMILY WITH THE MYSTERIES OF THE ROSARY

God is the source of vitality and love for Marriage and Family life.  Prayer is entertaining God’s presence in order to let Him connect us to his divine vitality. Here is how you can pray together as a Family.

Step 1.  Pick a form of prayer activity, such as praying the Holy Rosary, and select a set of Mysteries. For prayer with Scripture, a family can use and adapt Prayer Exercise – Praying as a Couple, in way that would be appropriate for the varying ages of the family members. Feel free to stand, kneel, or sit to pray the Rosary.

Step 2.  Someone pray out loud, in a way something like this, in order to ask God’s guidance: “Dear God, here we are in your presence. Please guide and inspire us, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.” You can also call upon Our Blessed Mother Mary to be with you and your family as you pray her Rosary: “Blessed Mother Mary, you who pondered in your Immaculate Heart all the wonderful things God did for you and his people, please be with us and guide us as we pray and meditate on the Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary. Pray for us and help us to contemplate the divine light shining on the holy Face of Jesus, your Son, Our Lord. Amen.”

Step 3.  This is how we begin the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Mysteries of Jesus.

  1. Someone leads for the first of seven times this devotional ejaculation: Heavenly Father I trust in You, I offer You the United Hearts of Jesus and Mary, the triumphant bleeding wounds of Jesus and the tears of our loving heavenly Mother Mary. Lord, your will be done.” This prayer could be said after the initial Glory Be and again at the end of the other ejaculatory prayers after each decade; so 7 times in all. (Prayer of Offering to the United Hearts of Jesus and Mary linked to a family consecration to their United Hearts; as revealed to a German soul called by God in the 1970’s to make with great love and devotion reparations to Almighty God for the good of souls, under the care of a spiritual director, and published in Germany in 1981 by Fr. Joh. Ev. Gehrer, OFM Capuchin.)
  2. The same leader begins the following prayers: Creed, Our Father, three Hail Mary’s, Glory Be.
  3. All respond with the second half of each of these prayers. Then after the Glory Be all say:
  4. Heavenly Father I trust in You, I offer You the United Hearts of Jesus and Mary, the triumphant bleeding wounds of Jesus and the tears of our loving heavenly Mother Mary. Lord, your will be done.”

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Step 4.  This is how we ponder the Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary and pray the five decades.

  1. One person read the Mystery of the Rosary out loud, slowly, and clearly. One of the parents or a designated child, teenager, or youth could then read a pertinent Scripture passage, and perhaps also a brief meditation from a published booklet or that they have prepared, or even spontaneously.
  2. After a pause of one or two minutes to reflect on the Mystery in Jesus’ life, each person may express what is on their mind or in their heart as they pray today. In this way all can hear what others think and feel and in this way learn how we can share and join in one another’s intentions.
  3. A designated leader begins by saying the first half of the Our Father, ten Hail Mary’s, and Glory Be and all respond with the second half of each prayer. The leader may add after the Name of Jesus in each Hail Mary the Lourdes Shrine phrase which focuses on the Mystery. Decade prayers are begun in a single language. Different decades can be begun in different languages, each responding at will.
  4. The others respond by saying the second half of each of these 12 prayers in a common language.
  5. We ponder not so much the words of the prayers but rather Jesus in his mysteries with Mary.

Step 5.  Fatima prayer and other ejaculatory prayers at the end of each decade.

  1. At the end of the decade the person who has been saying the first half of the prayers now initiates the Fatima prayer and everyone joins in: “O my Jesus, forgives us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell, and lead all souls into Heaven, especially those most in need of your Mercy.” (July 13th, 1917)
  2. Another devotional ejaculatory or short prayer can be added such as: “Come Holy Spirit, come by means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, your well beloved Spouse.” (Taken from the Chaplet of the Holy Spirit)
  3. A third devotional ejaculatory or short prayer can be added: Heavenly Father I trust in You, I offer You the United Hearts of Jesus and Mary, the triumphant bleeding wounds of Jesus and the tears of our loving heavenly Mother Mary. Lord, your will be done.”

Step 6.  Steps 4 and 5 are repeated for each of the remaining four Mysteries of the Holy Rosary.

  1. The same persons may exercise the leader’s roles as in the first decade, and rotation can be made of the roles the following day or the following week, according to family preference.  
  2. At the end of the fifth decade and the ejaculatory prayers following it, the following prayers are said.
  3. Hail Holy Queen and concluding prayer – Prayer to St Michael the Archangel – Prayer for the Pope.

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Step 7.  You look at each other and notice how you now feel, having prayed together. (Fellowship time)

  1. You may not need to exchange any words, but may see in each other’s eyes, that this has been a significant time of prayer – a time of intimacy with God, but also a time of intimacy with each other – because you have trusted each other with simple, daily secrets of the heart.
  2. We tend to feel tremendously loved when someone listens to our heart, because this is who we are.
  3. Feel free to hug, kiss, bow before an icon, make the Sign of the Cross, or a reverent genuflection before the Blessed Sacrament if in a chapel. Prayer doesn’t have to include words, or be painful or boring. It is as lively and connected as we ourselves are.

Remember that prayer is a normal human activity. You will become more at ease with it the more you do it. On the other hand, because you are not alone in it, but God is there with you, prayer is not only a human activity, but also a divine activity. For this reason it doesn’t make sense to try to evaluate our prayer experiences using only human parameters or measuring sticks. In fact, it is better not to evaluate our prayer at all, but rather to pay attention to the fidelity and generosity with which we spend or “waste” time “visiting” with God every day. The ultimate rule of thumb here is the rule of love that expresses itself and gives itself in freedom and generosity.

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Whenever you pray together as a family, the abiding values are:

First in your praying together to God at the beginning and at the end;

Second - in your “interior converse” with God;

Third - in your sharing with each other, strengthening the family bonds;

Fourth - in your listening to each other, deepening intimacy between parents, children, and siblings;

Fifth - in your praying out loud for each other, increasing the sense of being loved and belonging;

Sixth - in the mutual trust you show to each other by the simple act of praying together; and

Seventh - in actually opening your heart, mind, soul, and body (sharing at times even any physical sensations you may have experienced during prayer) to each other.

God is always at work within us, in our couple as parents, and in our family, but through the incredible trust we show God and each other in praying as a family; we give God permission to accomplish wonderful things in us individually, in our many relationships in our family, and in our whole family together.

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Following the publication by Saint Pope John Paul II of his "Letter on the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary" in 2002, I first wrote notes in 2003 for the faithful, families, and all people of good will to help them pray to God with Our Blessed Mother Mary and contemplate the Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary - so many "windows" into the life, ministry, mission, passion, death, and resurrection of her son, the Son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord. I updated this every few years as a guide also for praying alone, as a couple, and as a family, and in October 2020 for these web pages.

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In the "New Covenant" made by our Creator God with humanity (Jeremiah 31:31-34) every person can know God from within - because the Holy Spirit is revealing our Creator to all who are willing to know the Lord and trust in Him. We can still help each other along the way; so may you be pleased to find here a variety of helps to the life of faith in God through Jesus Christ. G.S.

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© 2006-2021 All rights reserved Fr. Gilles Surprenant, Associate Priest of Madonna House Apostolate & Poustinik, Montreal  QC
© 2006-2021 Tous droits réservés Abbé Gilles Surprenant, Prêtre Associé de Madonna House Apostolate & Poustinik, Montréal QC
 

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In the "New Covenant" made by our Creator God with humanity, as reported in Jeremiah 31:31-34, every human being can know God from...