Daily Prayer with Small Children

We have three children under the age of 6 in addition to our 13 year old, and it is always a challenge to determine what method and content of daily prayer is the best for us. The abundance of devotional books and prayer books available sometimes makes it difficult to choose between them. I guess this is a credit to CPH. At the very least we have used the suggested prayers in Luther’s Catechism, adding in the Ten Commandments, or a hymn each day. Recently, however, I have been making use of the Daily Prayer for Individuals and Families that is in LSB whether we are praying in the morning, early evening, or before bed. I like the format of these for our family prayers, and I usually insert for the Scripture reading a devotion from the book Through Faith Alone. I have used the Treasury of Daily Prayer a couple of times with the family, but our kids usually start getting really antsy about 1/3 of the way through the long reading. I think for right now it will serve better in my personal prayers. Of course, it always seems like the minute we start prayers together, out come the deep yawns, the phone rings, and everything goes haywire. It can only be the devil, trying to keep us from meditating on God’s Word.

What works best for you?

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About Rev. Paul L. Beisel

Graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN in 2001 (M Div.) and 2004 (S.T.M.); LC-MS Pastor and Adjunct Instructor for John Wood Community College; Husband of Amy and father of Susan, Elizabeth, Martin, and Theodore.
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7 Responses to Daily Prayer with Small Children

  1. Rev. Tom Fast says:

    Pr. Beisel wrote: “Of course, it always seems like the minute we start prayers together, out come the deep yawns, the phone rings, and everything goes haywire.”

    I about fell out of my chair in laughter when I read that. That is so true. Funny thing—we got a dog about a year ago. Guess who also seems to “act up” during prayer time? Yes…the devil-dog.

    I’m certainly no expert. Now Stuckwisch? He’d be the guy to ask. But one thing I learned from my son is how much, when he was a small child, he preferred me to tell the story from the Bible rather than read it. As soon as I’d finish reading it, he’d almost always say: “Tell it from your mouth, ,daddy.” That meant I was supposed to re-tell the story without reading it. Some sections of Scripture are easier than others when it comes to this. But I did it as often as possible. Sometimes I’d even ask him to re-tell it or ask questions along the way as I retold it. He always enjoyed it and sometimes I’d even be asked to “do it again.” FWIW.

    Tom Fast

  2. We have full Gregorian-chant Vespers as a family on most Sundays, using the Brotherhood Prayer Book. Our four-year-old sings as much as he can and listens to the rest, because he knows that if he’s not attentive he won’t get any ice cream afterwards. Throughout the rest of the week we just practice a part of the catechism and read a Bible story, and I ask questions about it and explain the hard parts.

  3. Rev. Paul L. Beisel says:

    I like those ideas. I have considered doing a family “Vespers” on Sunday afternoon. But, it always seems like something is going on, or we are just too lazy. Something is better than nothing, I guess.

  4. Rev. Paul L. Beisel says:

    Ben, do you do this after the evening meal during the week? In the morning? What works best for you? And do you do prayers at other times of the day together, or just the Catechism and Bible story?

    I want the kids to practice the Catechism and hear the Bible stories. I think this is good.

  5. Catechism and Bible story are after supper Monday through Saturday. If we’re having dessert, that comes after. We get some groaning and complaining, sometimes, of course.

    Other than that, there are bedtime prayers and meal prayers. I’ve been thinking, however, that it would be good to get our boy in the habit of praying in the morning, too. His mother and I pray and read Scripture right away in the morning, so he ought to do something of that sort, too.

    As for Sunday Vespers, it helps to have some sort of reward for the kids (and for the adults). We almost never have ice cream except on Sunday nights after Vespers. So now our four-year-old Caleb looks forward to Gregorian chant Vespers, and he can sing a lot of it. (Although, maybe it’s just the ice cream that he desires…)

  6. Christina Roberts says:

    I’m glad you asked this question. I often wonder what we should be doing and what others that I respect are doing with their children. Reading your post and comments made me realize that we would all (children and parents, alike) benefit from more Bible and Catechesis. But here is what we do now:

    In the mornings after my husband leaves for work I sit down at the piano and sing Matins from LSB. Depending on the day (whether or not we have to get out the door to preschool or some other commitment) I may do only the Venite, but if I have more time I sing Psalms from the BPB and the appointed Hymn of the Day for the previous Sunday. I have been using Eckardt for the reading and devotion. Sometimes the boys join me on the bench for all of this, but sometimes they are just play quietly in the living room, I don’t force the issue. When we get to the Prayers then I do ask them to cover over and sing them with me. Most days they are very agreeable but every once in awhile “Let my cry come to You” takes on a whole new meaning.

    In the evenings we all do the family prayers for the Close of the Day from LSB sans readings. This is the very last thing the boys do before going to bed, so we turn out all the lights and do it in the dark, which seems to really focus all of us. We speak it all except the Nunc Dimittis which we sing from Setting 2 (don’t ask why, I don’t really remember how that got started, but I am more than ready to change that aspect!)

    My husband is far better at focusing than I, so in the evenings we don’t answer the phone or any other distraction during the bedtime routine. In the morning I often let things get sidetracked with distractions.

  7. Rev. Paul L. Beisel says:

    That’s great that you do Matins and Close of the Day Christina. At one time (when we were homeschooling Susan) I actually was leading Matins over at the church every morning for the family, fully vested! I can’t even imagine doing that now. We’ve been reading a Bible story (from 100 Bible Stories) each night before bed, and practicing a part of the Catechism with the kids, then we say the Lord’s Prayer, Luther’s evening prayer, sing a hymn and that is pretty much it. In the morning, I usually read a devotion from Martin Luther’s “Through Faith Alone” book, with the same routine as in the evening (except we usually add in the Apostles’ Creed, and sing a few verses of the Ten Commandments hymn.) This seems to work very well for us. We don’t try to do anything immediately after dinner, because it gets to be too much for the kids. Morning and bed time works well for us. I have enjoyed quizzing the kids on the Bible Stories each night. Makes for good discussion. Thanks for the comments!

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