Using the Bible in Family Prayer Praying with Young Children

Using the Bible in Family Prayer

Praying with Young Children

Just as we tell and retell family stories from year to year, so too we read and reread Sacred Scripture and pass on these stories from generation to generation. In Sacred Scripture, we hear God’s Living Word spoken again and anew. Preschool children are not too young to be introduced to the stories of our faith tradition found in the Bible. Even as you are developing the habit of reading stories with your child, consider ways to include reading Bible stories too.

Begin by choosing a Scripture story to read to your child. The stories from the Gospels are especially appropriate to share with preschool children. Many fine children’s Bibles are available, and many stories from Scripture have been adapted for children in storybook formats. Look for these resources for sharing Scripture with children. When reading Scripture stories, be sure your child knows that these stories are from the Bible, God’s holy book. Keep the Bible in a special place in your home and show reverence for God’s Word as you handle the Bible and as you speak the words of Scripture.

Sacred Scripture is also a source for prayer. We use the words of Scripture in prayer, and we also pray with Scripture, meditating on the words and asking God to help us uncover the message for us today. We do so seeking to live faithfully according to God’s Word. Saint Ignatius of Loyola taught a way to pray with Scripture that engages the imagination, which can be adapted for use with children.

Choose a time during the day that best suits your family schedule. You might consider incorporating this into your child’s bedtime routine. At whatever time you choose, find a quiet, comfortable place and enjoy reading aloud a Bible story with your child.

When you have finished reading, take a few minutes to talk about the story together. You might make connections between your family’s experiences and the Bible story. Or, talk about what it might have been like to be a person in the story. Another way to reflect on the story is to ask your child to tell you the story in his or her own words.

Then share a moment of prayer together. Begin by inviting your child to share with you a moment of quiet and awareness of God’s presence. You might use these words: “Let us sit very still and become quiet for prayer. Remember God always loves us.” Developing the practice and habit of quiet is a wonderful gift we can share with young children, and is also a gift we can give ourselves. You may wish to pray in your own words responding to God’s Word in Scripture, and invite your child to pray spontaneously as well. This might be a simple prayer of thanksgiving or a prayer of petition to live the message of Scripture. To conclude your prayer, trace the Sign of the Cross on your child’s forehead in blessing or help your child to pray the Sign of the Cross.

As families read and pray Scripture together, they grow in awareness of God’s presence in their lives. May you enjoy many opportunities to share faith together with your child.