My husband and I have plagiarized much of our best parenting from friends. I can remember being a newlywed, sitting on a friend’s couch with her toddler in my lap as bedtime prayers were said. Listening to pure little voices say their prayers, which often prayed for my husband and I, I was so grateful to have been included in such a sweet ritual. I took mental notes for when I would have to help my own children pray.
Our family has developed our own bedtime prayer routine, building on and adapting those rituals we were able to witness.
Our nightly prayers have four basic parts.
First, we say our “core” prayers – Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, and Angel of God.
These are prayers that we want to be quick on the tongues of our children, and so started saying them with our babies before they could talk.
Second, we ask saints to pray for us.
This includes all of the saints with whom we share names, as well as a couple of adopted saints. At some point, each child has picked a favorite saint and has added them to our litany (not sure how we adopted St. Anthony and St. Rose, but thrilled that they found their way into the list).
Third, we have the standard intentions.
When our eldest was very young, we began adding specific prayer intentions to our nightly prayers, eventually culminating in a list of 10 standard intentions. When they were too young to memorize them, we used index cards with pictures glued to them to serve as prayer flash cards (pictures of our pastor, associate pastor and bishop as we prayed for “all our priests and bishops,” pictures of their godparents, etc.). Now, in the interest of not living an Instagram life, I should add that the index cards had to be discarded when the two kids began to fight over who got to hold which cards (just keepin’ it real, my friends). By then, the kids had memorized the cards anyway though, so I guess they served their purpose.
Finally, we ask each child’s special intentions.
This has two parts – thanking God for one blessing in the day, and asking God’s help for one person or group. Some nights, this part is easy – victims of recent floods, a friend who is taking a special trip with their family, someone who got hurt at school. Other nights, it is like pulling teeth to come up with someone for whom we haven’t already prayed, bringing to light that we need to work on our ability to empathize in our daily routines (again – so much room to improve).
Through Bellator Society posts, discussions with other Moms, and witnessing the sweet rituals of other families, we have come up with seasonal additions or changes to the basic bedtime routine. So, my question for anyone reading this blog – what is a component of your own family’s bedtime liturgy that you love?
Give us your original (or borrowed) materials!
You never know what budding young family will be helped by your experience.