The Power of a Praying Parent series
“How Should We Pray for Our Children?” by T. Thomas
The first installment of this series addressed the fact that prayer is the best gift parents can give to their children.
Now, let’s look at some ways we can pray for our kids. We can:
Pray the Rosary—Meditating on each mystery and thinking of how each relates to our child’s life, praying for an associating virtue not only has direct aid to our children but also helps us focus as parents.
Meditate—Considering the personality traits God gave each child and on the love God has for him, pondering how we as parents can help the child develop his own unique gifts and talents, and grow in virtue.
Participate/Assist at Mass—The Mass is the greatest gift, the greatest sacrifice and the greatest prayer.
Pray a Novena—A novena is a nine-day prayer, sometimes nine hours. Any good Catholic bookstore will have a book of these. You can also find them online. Saint Teresa of Calcutta suggested a nine-hour novena by praying the Memorare every hour for nine hours.
If you are an app sort of person, there’s an app for novenas. Just search in the app store. You can set your alarm at the same time every day so you won’t forget to pray!
Pray during ordinary work—A mother can pray for each child as she folds his/her laundry. She picks up two socks and prays, Lord, help him walk on the path toward you. She folds a t-shirt. God, fill her heart with inspirations of goodness and may she be a channel of Your love to others. And so on…
A mother praying through her ordinary work does not need to worry about an interruption from a little one or a husband. The “interruption” itself is her purpose and she easily goes back and forth between prayer, work and conversation.
Pray while outdoors—Some people like to pray the Rosary when they walk, hike or ride a bike outside. I find that my mind wanders. When I walk or ride, I mostly simply look at awe and wonder at God’s magnificent designs in nature, His divine artwork, stopping to peer at a flower that catches my attention, to listen to the call of a juvenile hawk or to admire a cloud formation in the sky. Other times when I am a little more focused, I will pray simply in time to my steps. “My Jesus Mercy. My Jesus Mercy…” as I take each step, imagining His love and mercy and a different child each step.
Fast—We can go a morning or day without food, and each time tempted to eat, recall and pray for the child and intention, asking God to use our fast to help edify him or her. Food isn’t the only thing from which we can fast. We can fast from social media, negative words, and a host of other things.
Suffer—We can accept our sufferings with love for the benefit of our children.
“If the angels were capable of envy, they would envy us for two things: one is the receiving of Holy Communion and the other is suffering (p. 1805, Jesus to Faustina)
How can we suffer for our children?
A mother can offer the pains of a specific childbirth for that child. This includes mental suffering, (worry, anxiety, fear) as well as physical suffering of labor and delivery. Amazingly, by assigning meaning and intention to the suffering, and uniting it to the Cross with our Savior, the suffering has redemptive value. We have actually overcome the evil of suffering by willingly taking it on for another. We become like Christ. Since God is out of time, we can retrospectively assign that suffering for the benefit of the child. Fathers too can offer the suffering of watching his wife in her discomfort or fearing being able to provide for his family, etc.
Another way we can suffer for our children is to assign little daily sufferings to specific intentions- a headache for this child; foot pain for that one. The inconvenience of sitting in traffic, the discomfort of heat at an outdoor event… and so on. You can let the Holy Spirit lead you in this designation of each offering. Or simply say, “For my children, Lord!”
Fr. John Hardon once said, “We only love to the degree that we are willing to suffer.” This is good to ponder.
If Something Happens to My Child Does that Mean I Didn’t Pray Enough?
Something important I’d like to mention—if we pray for our children that does not mean nothing bad will ever happen to them. I know several families, several really good, Catholic families, whose children were killed in car accidents, or died in other tragedies. I just can’t imagine that they were not praying families. These were good parents, loving parents, praying parents. My own adopted brother was killed in a car accident when he was 20 years old, and I know for a fact my parents were good, praying parents. What can we make of this? Did these parents not pray enough? No, I believe that is not the case.
God in His wisdom uses prayers in mysterious ways. I believe in the case of my brother, and most probably in the case of the other families, that the prayers definitely aided in the salvation of the souls of their children. I believe that it was exactly because of those prayers that the children had the graces necessary to get to heaven, that God looked at their lives and their potential lives at the moment of their deaths, and may have allowed them to be plucked from this earthly existence at exactly the time that gave them the best advantage to choose heaven in their free will. That’s just a hunch, but I’m going with it, because God is more loving and merciful than we could ever imagine. We are travelers on this earth, and our destination after all is heaven. Our prayers may have brought our loved ones there when otherwise they may not have had a chance.
I Worry My Prayers Won’t Make a Difference
There is a danger I would like to briefly mention. It is the danger of thinking our prayers do not matter, that we are not good enough or prayerful enough to merit the protection and graces we ask for our children. In one sense that is true—we don’t “deserve” any that we ask of God. However, we have to remember that even one small prayer or suffering, united to the sufferings and will of Christ is enough to change the world. It is through His merits that our offerings get their power. Us plus God is a majority, always. It is true we can never pray enough to get all of our family and friends to heaven. But we don’t have to. Jesus died for them and it is through His merits that this can be obtained. When we unite our suffering with His, however, our suffering has redemptive value. Our prayers most definitely do make a difference.
Next Up: A Story of Prayer and Suffering…