Prayer With My Children

Every night before our children go to sleep, my wife, Ashlie, and I sing and pray with our children. Sometimes, there’s a story about three princess, one for each of my children, but not always.

We sing the same song and we pray the same prayer.

Now, being raised Pentecostal, there was an unspoken idea that ritual was a bad thing, at least ritual in the church. I heard several sermons about how we shouldn’t just “go through the motions.” I found myself agreeing with the message but for different reasons. I was never able to explain why – it was just a gnawing feeling, a thought: the preacher is right but also not all right.

Then, I listened to a Liturgist explain why repetition is a good thing; that ritual is just routine with meaning. .

Ritual is routine with meaning.

It was in that moment when I understood why “just going through the motions” is bad: the meaning is missing, the purpose is presentless, the goal is gone.

Ritual is good as long as it has meaning. Ritual creates habits that inform everything else. Ritual helps us sort out life; when everything is chaos, ritual brings back stability and equilibrium.

My family ends everyday the same: we sing and we pray.

We sing The Doxology and we pray The Lord’s Prayer.

When we’ve had a bad day: The Doxology and The Lord’s Prayer.

When we’ve had a good day: The Doxology and The Lord’s Prayer.

When there’s been shouting and fighting: The Doxology and The Lord’s Prayer.

When there’s been anger and tears: The Doxology and The Lord’s Prayer.

When we’ve been unkind and mean: The Doxology and The Lord’s Prayer.

When I’ve had to apologize: The Doxology and The Lord’s Prayer.

When I’ve had to forgive: The Doxology and The Lord’s Prayer.

When there’s been laughter and joy: The Doxology and The Lord’s Prayer.

When there’s been warmth and love: The Doxology and The Lord’s Prayer.

When there’s been defeat and confession and repentance and healing and wounding and hugs: The Doxology and The Lord’s Prayer.

Regardless of the type of day, of the attitudes, of the sins and forgivenesses, we always return to the God who animates us by his Spirit. We do this by singing and praying.

 

Praise God from whom all blessings flow…Our Father who is in heaven…

Let your ritual’s have meaning.

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