Thursday, May 7, 2009

My Rosary Broke!

Family prayer is so vital to maintaining strong families and raising faith-filled kids. We have always prayed as a family before bedtime but as our children got older we wanted more time together in prayer. We started praying the rosary together as a family close to two years ago. We decided the best time would be immediately following dinner. We are all at the table already and, at that time, no one should be hungry or overly tired. We started keeping our rosaries in a decorative bowl in the middle of the table and found it was a perfect way to remind ourselves to keep God in the center of our lives as well.
At first, the kids really seemed to enjoy this time of prayer together. We didn't aim too high but began with only one decade a night. In order to really include the kids we took turns leading. It did not take long until it was a regular part of our routine and one that we all benefited from. In fact, for the first year we had very few problems. There was one night when in the midst of our praying, our youngest son wandered off for a while only to come back to the kitchen with his rosary in one hand and a pair of scissors in the other. He cried out, interrupting us, "My rosary broke!" Most evenings, though, aside from a little wiggling and children losing their place on their rosary beads, our prayers were offered without incident.
Slowly, as the novelty wore off, so did the children's interest and attention spans. Instead of a nice, respectful time of prayer our family rosary became a time of giggling or griping, depending on the night. The kids started to resent the extra time at the dinner table. I was unsure of how to handle it.
One night, after a brief but stern lecture about the appropriate attitude towards prayer, I looked each child in the eye and asked them pointedly, "Are you going to pray with us and do so properly?" Thankfully, they all solemnly nodded their little heads and grabbed their rosaries obediently. I started asking them each night if they were going to participate and be respectful during our prayers. Night after night, they answered affirmatively and behaved themselves. I thought our problems were solved. And, upon further reflection, the solution seemed almost perfect. After all, the children should be praying because they choose too. They should not have to be forced into it but should want to come together in prayer. I was grateful for having come up with a way to help them appreciate the privilege of family prayer. Unfortunately, one night my 7 year old son, being at an age when he loved to test his boundaries and get a reaction out of his mother, surprised me by answering “no” to my nightly pre-prayer question. He decided he did not want to pray with us and would instead go play in his room.
I smiled at him and excused him from the table and we proceeded to pray without him. I hoped if I did not react that he would come back on his own. But now there was a new novelty, so night after night he respectfully declined to join the family and went off to play instead. Tim and I discussed it but could not come up with a way to entice our son back to the table. We knew making a big deal out of it would only make things worse.
The Holy Spirit was surely at work when a friend shared with me about her family “prayer bucket”. “We have so many prayer requests,” she told me, “that we put them all into a bucket and then pray for each request in the bucket.” I told Tim about it and he suggested we adapt her idea to make our family rosary even more meaningful. So one night, after the kids went to bed, he and I sat up writing out prayer requests on little pieces of paper and putting them into a jar. To make a long story slightly shorter, it worked.
Each night, whoever is leading the rosary starts by choosing a slip of paper and announcing who the prayers will be offered for. Every one wants a turn to choose and lead, so everyone wants to be present for prayers. The children have added their own prayers requests to our “jar” and eagerly await the night we choose their submission.
I suppose there is never an easy answer to how we pass our faith onto our children or how we introduce them to the power and beauty of prayer. Thankfully we are always led by the Spirit when we ask and our efforts, though sometimes meager, will be rewarded in time.


  1. I would love to follow your blog but you have following turned off on your blogger blog. thanks for sharing such a great story.

  2. Sorry about the problems with following. I've fixed it and I would love to have you follow me! Thanks for your interest in my blog. God bless you.



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