After almost 22 years of parenting, we have tried just about everything, encountered just about every struggle and have learned a lot from others about what it takes to have a happy holy family. This year Denae and I will celebrate 25 years of marriage. What a great gift the past 25 years have been for us, we have been blessed beyond what we deserve.
Growing in our Understanding of Family
When we were young and just starting our family, we had no idea what we were doing, we were simply doing what our parents did, and avoiding the few things we didn’t like about our own upbringing. In other words, we were winging it and sometimes asking for advice or receiving it unsolicited. As we continued to welcome more members to our family and we went beyond the easy phase, we figured out that we needed help. It was not enough to “make it up as we went along”, we needed to learn from others what their secrets were to a good family. We read many books, listened to good speakers, and spent time learning from others who were having success within their families. We found that there were many paths to building a happy, holy and joy filled family, but there were some common traits that stood out and much to our surprise, we found that writings of St. John Paul II identified many of the same “best practices” of a successful family. John Paul identified Family Prayer, Engagement in Family Life by its members, Family Play and Strong Community as essential foundational components of family life.
Fostering prayer within the family is the most important of all the best practices. It is the lifeblood of the family, because it takes the family outside of itself and brings it into union with God. An individual prayer life for each parent is a prerequisite, and prayer between the married couple is important as well. All forms of prayer acknowledge that God is an important part of our lives, that we cannot do it alone and that our relationship with God is an essential part of our lives. We should place our time spent in prayer with God high on our priority list. We pray to God for ourselves, for our marriage and for our family. Family prayer is essential and is the best foundation we can build our family upon.
Some would say that a strong marriage is the most important foundation for a happy family, but I would say that a strong marriage is the result of a strong prayer life of the husband and wife and their shared prayer together. If there are troubles in the marriage, who should they turn to? They should turn to God in prayer and ask for his help. Family prayer is no different. The center of our family is not a new baby, it is not our children, it is not mom or dad, it is God. When He is placed at the center of our family life, all family issues, disputes and struggles can be overcome. The surest way to place God at the center of our family is through frequent and sincere family prayer time. While family prayer is the foundation, family play, engagement and a strong community are essential bricks that we need in our families to ensure a sturdy strong home in which to raise our families. Sign up for our mailing list to received notices about future articles that will cover these three areas in further detail in the coming months.
A New Resource for Family Prayer
This week we launch a prayer resource for families. The 33 Day Family Consecration Program is designed to help families develop a healthy life of prayer. Through 33 daily reflections, we provide a resource for parents to implement an effective method to pray with their children. This program is designed to encourage participation from all members of the family. Through prayer, spiritual reading, conversation starting questions and family activities, the family is brought closer to the Lord and closer to each other. This is our ministry’s first book, and we found it only appropriate that it be about family prayer.
Please share this article with other families you know, we want this resource to get into as many families as possible and we can only accomplish this goal with your help. God inspired us to create this program, He brought the people with the right skills to review the book (we had a pilot group of ten families), the right editor to get the book into print read format, the right artist to create pictures for the book and matching coloring pages and finally the funding to get a few hundred books printed. I honestly don’t know how we got this done in only 7 months, but it is done and we believe that through it God will change the lives of many families. This book is not just the work of one author, instead it is the fruit of families, my own family and the families who participated in the pilot program and the people who gave more than was required to make this resource not just good enough, but something beautiful for God and for the families which He is calling to himself.