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Your advice to young mothers regarding prayer?

September 14, 2011 by  
Filed under Dan Burke, Family Prayer, Prayer

Young Mothers at Prayer:
What is Your Advice for Them?

Young mothers at prayer: I had the opportunity to offer several talks on the spiritual life to a wonderful group of new friends in Idaho last night. One of the young women who has been deeply blessed by God with a large family asked me a question that I thought I would pass along to you – particularly you young mothers out there. What practical tips for prayer might you offer a mom with a sizable clan ranging from nine down to a beautiful newborn? Have you navigated the unique challenges of motherhood while still nurturing a meaningful prayer life? It is clear she is a great mom and that her children are blessed to have her as their mother but the challenges of an energetic group of little ones are not small in any way. Your thoughts or words of encouragement?


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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • Deacon Guy Grabiec

    Don’t forget to ask others to pray for you! Mom’s, busy Dad’s, each and everyone of us can get caught up in the chaos of modern life and it is possible to be too busy to formally sit down and pray. Those are the moments where our belief in the communion of saints kicks in! When we ask our brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for us, they ARE interceding on our behalf to the Lord, more simply put, THEY are praying FOR us when we simply cannot find the time on our own! So use this gift, not for time management but to grow always in holiness!

  • Babelrj

    In my ignorance, I would tell her that old kids are much “more influential” on the little ones than the parents. They are the BIG brothers! I would tell her to encorage the old ones to pray together or to call to pray with the little ones. At least, a single daily prayer. I would let the old ones know that whatever they do, the little ones will follow, so that, they must be wise. I would also have lots of Rosaries spread at home and if not possible to pray together with the Family, let all kids see that she is “always” with one in her hands. I’m sure, one day, in time of need, all of the kids will remember it and will turn to it as the last source! Then, I’m sure Our Lady will not disapoint them… Another thing, I would tell this Mom to every day of her life to entrust her kids and husband to Our Lady and Saint Michael Archangel… God bless you all.

  • Casolt

    What a wonderful life she has! I’m not a young mother but new to it all the same. The most wonderful advise I have received is that my children ARE my prayer. Jesus said “Let the children come.” And they will bring you by the hand to Him. God Bless you!

  • $1650412

    I could write a book about this! First of all, order and regularity, while worthy aspirations are unlikely consistent overall achievements- and that, while far from optimal, is as it is meant to be, and not a point for self recrimination. It is one of many splinters of the cross of motherhood in the modern age.  For the record, mothers who have everything under control are a myth; while mothers who know and rely on the Christ who controls all things are saints in process.
    Here are my long-winded general guidelines:Memorize some basic prayers- a morning offering, the angelus, and the rosary.Sometime between 4 am and 9 am pray the morning offering from your heart.[When you are interrupted or suffering, especially from lack of sleep- intentionally offer your pain (and oh yes, this can be physically and mentally painful!) for those concerns closest to your heart. If nothing else presses on you, offer them for your husband, for priests, and in reparation for the sins of contraception.]Before 9 am, check in on the daily readings and get in step with the liturgy- is it a feast day, major saint’s memorial, etc? Read the readings and choose something from them, even after just a cursory once over, to focus on for the next five minute span you have for focus- ask the Lord to speak to you and try to bring whatever impacts you into your situation. Jesus and Mary have tons to say about life and spiritual development to mothers of young children- family life is a microcosm of the Church militant.(I can’t tell you how many times I have been struggling with a child over x, y, or z stage or activity or behavior, to have the Lord enlighten me as to how often He is working with me while I act that exact same way- usually like the thrashing, contrary toddler, if I am honest.)Make a spiritual communion- short and sweet but spontaneous and from the heart, if you think of it, and just can’t get to Mass with the kids. [However, aim for daily Mass with the children- even if it is going to be your one workout for the day, and just go ahead and wear sweats- it is what it is. If the kids are unruly, stay in the cry room, and if you just can’t hang for the whole thing, go by degrees- 10 minutes today, 15 tomorrow, and the next day and the next, then 20, then 25, and before two weeks are out, you can keep relative order through a 30 minute daily Mass, even if you are seriously outnumbered and the troops think they want to mutiny. The earlier in the morning you attempt this the better. And if people give you those ‘you are disturbing my calm and interrupting my prayerful silence’ scowls, just smile and pray for them to have the grace to offer it up for the scourge of abortion. We had a saying at West Point about good training- ‘it’s never over!’ And neither is the need to grow in the sacrifices and reparations we can offer in order to live up to our Church’s teachings on the value of being open to life. So smile, you are doing your part!]By this point you win! It’s been a great day if you haven’t lost it with anyone yet- massive rivers of grace are flowing, rejoice!,– even if the house is trashed and you think you might be completely dependent upon the Starbuck’s company for your next breath!At lunch time, pray the Angelus out loud so the kids hear you saying it, even if you have to multitask and make and serve the PB&J while you pray- get them to chime in with the Hail Marys. I think it is more important as a mom to pray this prayer at or about noon than to pray this prayer when things are still and quiet. Aim for still and quiet, but pray in chaos anyway. The Angelus is THE prayer for wives and mothers. Keeps you oriented at midday.At sometime in the evening pray at least a decade of the rosary with the children. We like this as part of the bedtime routine, ideally. And this one is better not done on the fly but with focus and still and recollected-(or if people refuse to obey, then kneeling on rice- just kidding.)  Actually, for this one too I think posture is important, I prefer kneeling, but sitting is good; however, lying around draped on the furniture like sloths when older than 3 yrs. old, is kind of unacceptable. It’s only one decade after all. When we pray the rosary, we sometimes send children off to bed in shifts after  each decade- the younger ones after one, or two or three-while the older children stay for the duration. And we alternate having the kids lead the prayers as well as going around on each bead and mentioning intentions. My husband has themes for the intentions- for example he always prays for priests on the third glorious mystery, and he almost always prays for the children on the first mystery of every decade, and he throws in pregnant women we know on the second joyful mystery etc. The children almost always have intentions they can think of for friends and family, and sometimes they have real burdens for the Holy Souls in purgatory-it is always encouraging to pray with children.  

    When you brush your teeth for bed make an examination of conscience- hit the high points, good and bad, and go back over the top three things you are thankful to God for in the closing day. 

    This is an on-the-fly method for keeping tethered in the midst of the demands of the mothering season in life. Here are a few tips that can also embellish:
    1. Listen to Christian radio or music in the car, or at home- in days gone by I learned alot of the Bible through Christian music.
    2. Hang holy pictures in your home, that will remind you to pray or of Jesus and Mary’s solidarity with your struggles. I have one in my room of the ‘Ecce Homo’- my favorite. And over my kitchen sink I have the Infant of Prague- (I have alot of little boys!). In my laundry room I used to have the Polish Madonna- I jokingly called her Our Lady of the Laundry, because it is of Mary hanging diapers on a clothesline, with little Jesus sitting on the ground playing nearby- in need of one of those little nappies!
    3. I had a friend who told me about another friend who stuck little white sticker circles around her house to remind her to make spiritual communions- I loved that little idea. And another girlfriend of mine has Bible verses she loves written on 3×5 cards around the house in places she spends time working for her family.
    4. Sometimes I watch EWTN on the treadmill or elliptical trainer at the gym, and if I had it on the TV at home I would definitely have specific favorites playing during the day- I love the chaplet to St. Michael that they have on there at 7am, EST.

    Ok, my heartiest apologies for too many words, and if this is overwhelming. The important thing is to know that Jesus loves young mothers and their children so much! He will help you and speak to you and console you- just don’t let the frazzle and chaos derail you- keep order in your soul by loving and talking to Him- and it will all be fine. Before you know it they are graduating from college summa cum laude giving speeches about how they fully intend to change the world for love of Christ! – Don’t blink! ;o)

    • Mzbecker

      Back in the day, when I was a younger mom of 5 boys, we would listen to the Donut Man and learned many bible verses. Also there was a Catholic tape, wish I could remember the exact name..something like 24 Catholic songs. It had the Ten Commandments, Morning Offering, Creed, Corporal Acts of Mercy, Spiritual Acts of Mercy, and others all set to music…making is oh so easy for the children to memorize.

      I love so many of your ideas set forth above. It calls to mind a friend that would keep her spiritual reading near a table where she breastfed her babies. She figured as long as she needed to be sitting there wide awake, she would put that time to use. God bless you and your family.

    • Becky Ward


      How I wish I had had this advice when I was a young mom. I am in tears as I write because my religious upbringing was minimal at best, and I didn’t know any of this stuff. How my heart aches as I realize how little I did pass on to my kids.

      God in His mercy has kept them close, and while they are not practicing Catholics (At the moment 🙂 ) they are going to Christian churches….and I see my grandchildren often…………. I feel so blessed to be able to share with them, what I couldn’t with my own chidren.

      God Bless You Jo!!

      • $1650412

        You know I am sure your children know how much you love them and how much you love the Lord! You are such an encouragement here on this site!
        In my family, I was lamenting one day before the Lord how disappointed I was that we are what I consider such lame Catholics compared to what we could be! And the Lord reminded me that well, while we might be seriously flawed, we do excel at forgiving one another and carrying on ;o)- so you know love covers a multitude of sins! Even when we feel like we might have missed the mark at various points- and wow I am thinking we all must feel this way, we can say we’re sorry, do the best we know to do now, pray for grace, and let God continue to be sovereign even over this, right here, right now. ;o)

        • Becky Ward

          Thanks Jo! (Big grateful smile)  I know this………….and I know personally how much God can do with ‘raw’ material…………this is just one of those really sensitive spots for me; often all I can do is pray, and while I know that prayer is far better than anything else I could do for my kids……’s not easy. So I pray and say what I can to other people’s kids, confident that God will find a way to bring it back to mine.

          We do all ‘feel this way’…thankfully not at the same time!! 🙂

          I love this site for things just like this……..there is always someone who can relate, or say just what we need to hear to pull us through. Like you now…….it does help to have someone affirm what we already know, and It’s Beautiful!!

          I’m sharing this post with all the young Mom’s I can.

      • Guest

        Phew, Becky and Company, I am back!!!! Hey girls, no mother is ever an expert on how to bring up kids and at the same time live our Faith as we wish. But thanks JoFlemmings. I am sure you advice will help many many young Moms out there

  • Sally

    Always remember this: meaningful prayer does not require one to always take a specific stance; you need not always be on your knees for such prayer to take place. Make all that you do, think and say a prayer to God. In all that you do, praise His holy name. Give glory to God in front of your children & teach them to do the same. Living your life as a true witness of Christ is one of the most desired & loved prayers you can offer. Let all of your conversations ~voiced & silent~ be an invitation and a dialogue that 1st, rises up to our Beloved Lord & Saviour, Jesus Christ, as you strive to become more intimately drawn to Him~2ndly let it be that to communicate with that same love to all others. Let God be your guide your every thought & action.

    May you be blessed now and forever~
    In Christ

  • Guest

    Dear Dan,
    I am in a similar boat.  I have 5 beautiful children from just-turned-10 (a girl) to an almost 1-year-old.  That my oldest is a girl means that she is (I’m presuming) more willing to hold the baby when you need your two hands for something else. Or I use a hiking backpack when he needs to be held and I need to make dinner.
    As far as prayer goes my advice is:  
    1. have the children in bed early (starting dinner earlier), so you can have a bit of time to nurture your relationship with your husband; 
    2. go to bed early – I’ve read (and experienced) that pre-midnight sleep is more restful than sleeping in in the morning.
    3. rise early and be with the Lord (in these times I’ve gotten desperate and followed the example of other mothers and I rise most days at 5 a.m.  I make a hot drink to keep myself awake.)  Sometimes I’m joined by my early-rising 3-year-old and then I just hold him and pray.
    It doesn’t work every day but the Lord will see your efforts.  Also, use times like folding laundry (offer the work of each article folded for the intentions of the  article’s owner.)  Say a Sanctus when you happen to see the clock at :00.  Or whatever the Lord prompts you to.
    Also, I signed up for a weekly holy hour at my church’s adoration chapel.  Hubbie watches the children one evening a week.  I used to take the newborn until he got more active and loud.
    Wishing consolations and peace on you and my fellow mothers,

    • Maria gianna

      “The Angelus is THE prayer for wives and mothers.”

      As a mother of 11, I couldn’t agree more. This and the mercy chaplet…easy, fast but they pack a punch.


  • Loretta Winn

    I am a Nana now, however your motherhood is your prayer life for now. Nevertheless, my suggestion would be to add prayer along the way. Such as, praying the Rosary with the children and reading them books of the Saints as well. Praying for all the young moms and the young people away from our Church. God’s blessings,

  • Am just a young adult in her 20s but I could tell you some of the things my Mom and family do. When we were kids my Mom read to us stories from the Bible from this big beautifully illustrated multivolume Bible set. As long as I can remember we always prayed (and still pray) together as a family at night. A decade of the Rosary then the Cross then the family prayer.
    My Mom sets a good example when we see her pray her personal prayers morning and night.
    Before bed, we bless each other “May the Lord bless you. May the Lord keep you. May the Lord be gracious unto you. May the Lord let His face shine upon you and give peace.”
    She bought books on angels, children’s books by Max Lucado, books on Saints.

  • Blessed mom of 5

    I like to wake early so that I can spent some quiet time in prayer with God.  I LOVE Fr. Bartuneks “The Better Part” for a Christ centered resourse for personal prayer.  Some days I read my “Better Part” book, other days I read the same reflections that are posted online…I have “Catholic One” app on my phone so when I’m waiting to p/u kids at school: I can read the daily readings, pray the liturgy of the hour or any other Catholic prayers.  I also keep Christian music on in the car and house which helps me refocus and center all I do in a busy day as a mom on CHRIST!

    Blessings to all the moms out there…always remember: HE will provide!!

  • One more thing! When we were older, around late middle school onwards, my family watched films like “The Mission” “Chariots of Fire” “The Black Robe” “A Man for All Seasons” “Mother Teresa” “The Passion” and the like. Then we reflect on and discuss the films together afterwards. Hope it helps!

  • hms

    I must have missed that question! While I only have 2 little ones, I too struggle with this…my husband likes to take them to adoration with us, and any time I say it’s ‘not worth the effort/stress’, he always says Jesus said ‘let the children come to me.’ Getting up earlier is helping, but I still have a nursing 9 month old who somehow knows I’m getting up! I’m trying to reflect a little during their afternoon nap before dashing off to get things done. I’ve also started listening to an audiobook once in a while. Haven’t figured out how to remember to offer the evening/dinner fussiness etc.

  • a y

    I take my children with me to Adoration. Yes! All of them. If a child is brought up before the Blessed Sacrament and trained that this is a holy place and the second most important place to get so close to Jesus (after Mass), they will understand. Besides, children generally know the minute they enter that something is different. This gives the children a chance at a young age to begin to develop a relationship with Jesus, offers and opportunity for the older ones to pray, etc. They will model you. If you have very young ones, then go only for a few minutes.  Give the older ones their own special journal where they can draw pictures or actually write “love letters” or entries of concern to Jesus. This keeps them busy. In the meantime you as a mom can pray specifically for their needs and bring all other praise/concerns to the Lord. I believe these times are essential to sacramental preparation, and beyond.  

  • Linny

    I am a young woman who has been struggling with infertility for many years now so unfortunately, this advice does not come from personal experience with children. In my efforts to “pray constantly” while holding a job, being a wife and dealing with everyday unique to itself, I try and offer up the chores that I like the least to my Lord and do it with generosity of heart. I personally do not like washing dishes or folding socks but my husband does not either. Whenever we are doing laundry together, I always take the socks and tell Jesus that I love him and am doing this for him. Maybe, this can be done with changing dirty diapers or responding to the almost never ending “Mommy” calls. God will see your effort and know that you love him by your service to your family. God Bless You.

  • Camille

    I run the Mother’s group at our church, our program has a blog,
    Keep is SHORT, Keep it SIMPLE, Keep it KID FRIENDLY…

  • Gfroesch

    Being faithful and living your life in Christ, in whatever circumstances you find yourself, is in itself, the greatest prayer you can offer and the strongest example you can give to your family and others. To do that does require awareness that God is always present with you, in His infinite, all powerful, compassionate love. He has blessed you with motherhood, the greatest gift, lived in Him, that he could give you. Knowing this, praise and thanksgiving will be ever in your heart and family and your prayer will be constant for years to come.
    Practice the awareness of knowing that you are constantly in God’s presence, recall it in each circumstance, and prayers of adoration, thanksgiving and petition, will soon, continually be your heart’s response to Him.
    Blessings in Christ.

  • Ltqlin

    Moms In Touch, is an international,; non-denominational prayer group for mothers. I found when my sons were teenagers, I didn’t know WHAT to pray for, specifically. I found a local MIT group who helped me learn to pray for my children, no matter their age, and a side benefit was upon hearing other mothers, who could be objective, pray for my child was very consoling to me.

  • WellSpring04

    I have ten children, all of them grown now, and many with vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.
    Besides incorporating the celebration of the Church year in the family,( with little crafts and special desserts, like cupcakes with fire on Pentecost and angels’ or devils’ food cake on St Michael’s feastday, and letters to Mary on her birthday, etc. which became part of my prayer life too, in basic ways), I tried to kneel beside my bed during a lull in the family life, usually after schoolchildren were off and before housework.
     I did beside the bed what I do in Mass, I acted like I was in another world, and couldn’t be reached…Even tho I had an ear out for trouble, I stayed kneeling with my head in my hands and the Bible or prayer book in front of me. Often the kids would come barreling in, come to a screeching halt, and whisper to each other, “Oh, Mom is talking to God! Be quiet…” I was lucky to get in a heartfelt Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be, and I sometimes almost fell asleep on my knees, but that was my morning Prayer for years.
     “Meditation” was a few minutes before my nap, just a few thoughts from a spiritual book. And night prayers was “the gap” prayer…”lord fill in the gaps between the love and care I actually gave the children and my husband and myself, and your infinute love and care for each of us! Amen!!”
    Now that they are all grown and away, those same times of prayer seem a lot more fruitful and connected, but the good Lord knows my prayers during the intensity of family life were “foxhole” prayers and appreciated by Him all the more. He doesn’t expect very elaborate prayers when we are “under fire!”

  • Becky Ward

    In addition to all the wonderful ideas being offered, I would suggest making a “Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary”

    It’s a one-time act where, after a few weeks of preparation, we freely give Our Lady everything….all our past present, and future, merits and good works….forever. This puts us under the protection of her mantle…………and she will remember and help us even when we can’t.

    Here’s a link to some information about it:

  • Marie Redfield

    I only had 5 children, but I would say that praying the rosary was one of my greatest blessings. Ending the day with the rosary does several things. 1. It gathers the family together to pray. 2. It helps calm the children down for the evening. 3. Once calmed and tired, the children always accepted going off to bed better than normal. 4. The mood in the house was always better when we were praying the rosary consistently in the evening.
    Years later I learned that the rosary was first and foremost meant to be a prayer for the family. That made perfect sense to me!

  • joan

    I remember saying to someone (when both my kids were under age 2 and I worked part time), “Sure I pray – like this – GOD help me!” The other person thought it was hilarious, but I wasn’t kidding! Be careful about assumptions regarding what a meaningful prayer life looks like and don’t let “the enemy” discourage you by suggesting impossibly high standards for prayer or motherhood. Remember two things – 1) We can achieve nothing on our own. We can busy ourselves with various exercises and routines, but none of the merit (if any) originates with us. 2) God is not hindered by our lack of time and energy. If He places in us a desire to pray more, He will surely supply the way to do so as well, and can overcome any of these limitations, which He has chosen to place in our lives. If a means for change does not present itself, I would trust that what I am doing is what pleases God for now. The desire to pray, with the inability to do so, may serve some purpose for you personally, or be some work of God in you.
    Teach your children to pray and give them a firm grasp of the personal nature of their relationship with the Holy Trinity before the world tells them that no such thing is possible. They need wisdom and courage from this relationship with God as they grow. Once your children know how to pray, have them pray for you and the whole family! I’ve received many a “solution” this way.
    It takes a village, which I don’t have with most of my family far away and living in a big city where neighbors barely recognize each other. The communion of saints is my “village” – I pray to my children’s guardian angels, Mother Mary, and ask for intercession by the holy individuals after whom our children are named. It is also good to keep holy water in the house and bless everyone with it daily. When my children can’t sleep they ask for it (usually they are blessed after they’re asleep, before I go to bed). My husband also won’t go to sleep without his blessing now, nor will some of our overnight guests!

  • Therosarylady

    My mind had a tendency to wander when praying the rosary, I would get so angry with myself. (I need to do this, I should have done that)  Then I learned to let it go and offer it up to God and the Blessed Mother.  Obviously, if something weighs that much on your mind, it needs to be prayed about too.  Father Byrnes called them arrow prayers, straight to Heaven!  

    I also had several audio (cassettes back then) of the rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet and songs for kids to play while in the car.  We spent a lot of time in the car for their various activities, they learned it all by osmosis!
    These were all my favorites!

  • This might help…  Life is a prayer.

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