One of the most significant habits we formed as a family was morning prayer. Note: It doesn't have to be morning prayer if that does not work for your family. It can be at lunch, after dinner, or before bed. Whatever works best for your family.
When I was a young homeschooling mom, I was trying to find a way to lead my kids in prayer in the morning. My husband, the good Anglican priest that he is, suggested doing morning prayer and I was like, “Uhhhh, no”.
Morning prayer? Why on earth would I do morning prayer with kids? What could possibly be more boring? How could the Holy Spirit be involved in something like morning prayer? (Did I say all of this to my husband? Why, yes, yes, I did.)
My husband is a very gentle and patient man. He listened to my protestations and assured me that he heard me. But then, as he was walking out of the room he dropped this bomb, “I grew up in a school where we did morning prayer every day. Do you know what it is like for a little boy’s heart to hear and to recite these words every day, 'the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting and his faithfulness endures from age to age' or 'for he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand.'"
I started morning prayer with the kids the next day.
Starting the day off with morning prayer (or ending it with evening prayer), set our hearts and minds on God's goodness and faithfulness. There is something so powerful that happens when we set a rhythm of daily prayer and we pray the same thing together. It reminds us of who we are in God, it renews us and it unifies us, as a family, in our love and service to God.
And if you are worried about the origins of morning prayer, know that it is biblical! You can read my whole post on the biblical origins of daily prayer here but the basis for it is found in Deuteronomy 6 when Moses gives the Israelites instructions to guide them and keep them as they entered the promised land -
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
At the end of this passage, the Israelites were told to teach their children diligently morning, noon, and night. With these words, the Jewish practice of praying morning, noon, and night was instituted. And when the early church started, this practice continued and they prayed in the same way as well.
This ancient Christian practice of praying morning, noon, and night is known as the “daily office”. The name comes from the Latin officium divinum, which means “divine duty.” It begins with a psalm of praise that the family says together, a reading from scripture, singing a song of worship, personal prayers, and the Lord’s Prayer and concludes with a collect (a composed prayer).
If you would like to incorporate this beautiful habit into your family’s life, I created simplified forms for a family to use based on the experience of our family over the years. Choose a time that works best for your family; there are forms for prayer in the morning, at Noonday, early evening (right before or after dinner), and at the close of the day (right before bed), prepare your family for this new thing that you will be doing and begin!
I hope that these family prayer forms will be a blessing to you and your family!