A possible strategy for getting family prayer back on our priority list might be to rediscover the conditions for how prayer begins.
In some desert regions of the world, on rare occasion, there is sufficient rain to awaken the seeds waiting in the soil to produce a magnificent bloom of wildflowers. When the super bloom happens, the splendor of color across the landscape is breathtaking.
The seeds of potential life are ever present in the dry soil – waiting to grow. Life’s celebrative potential is always there ready to renew itself in response to the right conditions.
The seeds of prayer are within us.
For families, vacations are a great time to take a break from all the routines that compete for our attention. These interludes provide the right conditions to recreate with our families, time to renew and refresh. Time gives opportunity to reflect on the landscape of our lives together. Reflection can be the springboard to prayer.
We don’t have to wait for a vacation. What vacations can do to regenerate us, reflective prayer can do at any time. We can build the reflective time into our schedules. Perhaps we can find a few moments when the family is gathered to invite each person to share something good about their day. We start with the recollection that we believe that God is present to us in our daily lives. The focus question(s) might include: Where did you see goodness in your day? Who helped you today? Whom did you help? What was a challenge today? Questions can be adapted. Rules are few except to be grateful for whatever is shared. Also, to share is not essential; just listening is fine. While family members often talk about their day, the difference with this exercise is that it helps us focus on how God plants graced moments in our daily activity.
Prayer is rooted in the moments of our lives. Regardless of our age or circumstance, the Lord invites us to grow from where we are. Prayer is the way we cultivate the relationship that the Lord always offers to us, always inviting us to grow, to walk with Him. The moments of our day, our interactions with others, our joys, and setbacks are the places we find God’s grace. At one point in the Gospels, Jesus invites his listeners to consider the “lilies of the field” as evidence of God’s sustaining love. (Luke 12:27)
Prayer becomes a priority as we awaken to the God who loves us in our daily lives, who draws us to Himself. Reflection lets us learn how God’s grace is found in our experiences, to become more aware of them in the present, and more open to the future to which He calls us.
So when we ask our preschooler what was good about their day and they immediately describe their snack and lunch, we can be consoled. It is the beginning, the roots of prayer.