By Fr. Bill Kneemiller
This is my second in a four-part series on Family Prayer as I am hosting Advent banquet parties to encourage families to pray Night Prayer together.
Recently I sat down at the dinner table with Erin Darland, who teaches at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic School in Davenport; her husband, Doug, and two of their children, Connor and Gavin. I asked: “How important is family prayer?”
Erin’s response: “At the end of our day, it’s so important to come together — even if it’s just a few of the kids, who range in age from kindergarten to a senior in college. So, right before bedtime, we thank God for the day, because he made this day; and we have people that we pray for every day. We pray especially for those who are sick or homeless or if someone in their family has passed away.”
Erin continued: “Anytime we gather to pray as a family, at Mass or at home or wherever there is closeness that we don’t have anywhere else — the Holy Spirit has us wrapped up in God’s tender arms!”
Gavin, age 6, said: “I like praying at night because it gives God respect.” Erin said that they try to do the rosary; sometimes they can only get in a decade or two.
I encourage all families to pray the rosary and to consider starting with one decade. Don’t worry about being completely devout with younger kids who are starting to learn and who maybe like to roll around on the floor. What’s most important is to begin the habit of prayer. When one family I know started to pray the rosary, their pet dog Mandy would grab a large bone and peacefully gnaw on it while her masters prayed.
“A huge help for prayer for me is when I was told that I could simply ‘Sit with God’ — in his presence, and not fill up the air with words,” Erin said. “We need to be better listeners; to listen and to be in God’s presence.” Psalm 95 in The Liturgy of the Hours echoes her comment. “Today, listen to the voice of the Lord.”
“Also, one of the best ways I learned how to pray is from my kids, as they don’t judge me and it’s comfortable praying with the kids,” Erin said.
Don’t forget to join me, Fr. Bill, during a Prayer Party each Thursday during Advent at Wise Guys Pizza & More, in the back banquet room, 2408 E. 53rd St. in Davenport. Two sessions are offered, 4:30-6 p.m. and 6-7:30 p.m. Join us for as long as you can — even for just 30 minutes. Kids get a discount on pizza. If you have the “Shorter Christian Prayer” book, please bring it. I will also have print-outs. For families or groups larger than four persons, please email me at (kneemillerw@ diodav.org), or call (563) 321-0124. Come for pizza and stay for the psalms!
P.S. Please email or call me with any personal reports of your experiences with Family Prayer. Share your joy of prayer!
(Fr. Bill Kneemiller is chaplain at The Kahl Home in Davenport.)