The Difficulties of Family Prayer

By Fr Hervé Morissette, CSC –

There is no ready-made solution to calm a child who misbehaves. However, it is important for the parents to maintain their composure in order to keep control of the situation. The fact that the youngest has to go to bed earlier than the others is good reason to make him/her say a short prayer alone with his/her mother or sister before the night rest. It is for each family to find the solution best suited to a particular situation.


Routine sets in

Routine is a dangerous disease that is likely to extinguish the flame of a fervent prayer. If we keep on repeating the same formulas every day, we will inevitably fall into a sad monotony. The family prayer should vary depending on circumstances, the liturgy, family feasts or what happened to the family during the day.

All are tired

 Sometimes the children are tired or upset. There is “thunder” in the air or uncontrollable laughter. A few moments of silence will provide the needed relaxation for prayer, but only if the children are already familiar with that practice. It is also recommended to shorten the family prayer that night.

The father returns home late

 It is for each family to find the best solution and adapt to the various constraints of the day. For example, as the small children cannot go to bed late, they could say their prayers with their mother. The others may wait till their father returns from work, or start the family prayer, if he is expected to come too late.

Directions for Use

This Family Prayer Book is neither a Breviary / Office Book nor a collection of formulas for petitions, but a compilation of prayers meant to accompany and support the family prayer. If, after a few minutes of prayer, you put the book aside to pursue your dialogue with God in a more personal way, it will have rendered you the service it was meant to give.

When you open this book, don’t be in a hurry. Don’t give way to superficial curiosity by reading as many prayers as you can. Never read all the prayers of an entire section at a time, for the sake of having read all of them. You may read some of these prayers one after the other. However, it is preferable that you consult the Index found at the end of the book and select the prayers most suited to your interior dispositions or the events taking place in your family, the Church or society. The purpose of these prayers is to help your family enter into conversation with God.

Prayer is not a monologue that you carry out alone, but a dialogue with God. That is why this Prayer Book contains a number of Scripture Readings presenting the Word of God to you as well as special prayers meant to help you express your spiritual needs and your response to God’s Word.

The spirit of prayer is a gift from God. Yet it depends very much on your readiness to respond personally to that gift in whatever situation you find yourself. That is why this Prayer Book contains short as well as longer prayers that you may use according to circumstances. However, you have to prepare yourself for prayer. You may begin your family prayer by reciting the rosary (or a few decades of the rosary)for the intentions that are dear to your family. Then invite one of your children to read the chosen prayer slowly in the name of the whole family. If there is a Scripture Reading proposed, let the father or the mother read it and say a few words to comment on it or relate this text to the events or the circumstances of the day. Then the mother or a child reads the following prayer.

On some themes, you will find more than one prayer. Don’t read all these alternative prayers, but only one of them. When the family prayer is longer or more elaborated, take time to sing a hymn together or to listen to a beautiful recorded religious song. Thus you and your family will grow in the spirit of prayer and you will experience the benefits of family prayer.