The Importance of Prayer: or Teaching Memorization to a Toddler and a Preschooler

The nice thing about being Catholic is we have a prayer for everything, FOR EVERYTHING.  You need a prayer to ask for forgiveness; we’ got several.  You need a prayer for hope, consolation, joy; we got those too.  How about one for your pets?  Yes.  Need a prayer for finding lost things?  Sure.  How about one to find a parking space?  Yup.  (I swear it works; I don’t know why because I would assume the Mother of God would have more important things to do than get some one a parking space.)  So when you have writer’s block when talking to the Big Guy, it’s nice to start off with a Catholic sanctioned prayer to get things rolling.


I’m a big believer in prayer.  I think it not only helps you talk to God, but it helps you understand yourself and goals.  I remember my mom telling me to “Give it to God,” which I felt was a cope out.  I felt that the challenges I faced were meant for me to handle, not pass off the buck to God; while, now I understand it’s more like letting God hold it for a minute as I do the mom-thing for a moment and when the kids are in bed, I can take back the burden and figure things out.  Since I do feel everyone should have some sort of relationship with God, I am trying to pass it along to my boys, and the best way I can think of is teaching them to pray, to talk to God as I remember my dad and mom doing with me and my brothers.


Every night we pray with the boys, and since I can’t stand saying “If I die before I wake” with my boys (because that’ll freak them out and that’ll freak me out and I prefer not to stay awake all night listening to their breathing.  I’m trying to get over that), we pray “The Guardian Angel” prayer.


Angel of God, My Guardian Dear,

To whom God’s love commits you here.

Ever this day be at my side

To light and guard and rule and guide.


Once in a while Evan will say it with us.  Though he would prefer to argue with me over the correct way to say and do “The Sign of the Cross,” which Evan insist starts on the right side, rather than the correct left, and gets very upset if I don’t do it his way.  Then we have to practice it his way, and that buys him another five to ten minutes of awake-time.


Another prayer I am teaching the boys is a prayer that I learned when I was a first grader in Catholic school.  Our teacher taught us a prayer to St. Theresa of Lisieux, the Little Flower, who believed we could all do little things, if we could not do something big.  So when we heard a siren, we would pray for the emergency and the people who needed help.


Little Flower

At this Hour

Show your Power.


I now say it out loud for the boys’ benefit (because it was so ingrained in me at six that I never stopped saying it and people give you weird looks if you start “talking” to yourself in public).  The other day, Evan, on hearing a siren go pass the house, yelled:


The Power!

The Flower!

The Hour!


Um, close enough. 


As I sometimes am a poor excuse for a Catholic (oh, you mean they have mass every Sunday?), we don’t pray every time we need to, like when we get up or before meals.  (Granted my Mom usually doesn’t pray before meals either, but now that my Grandma has dinner with them every night, you better believe that she prays.)  Now the beauty of Catholicism is EVERYONE says the same before meals prayer (as well as a lot of other prayers and the mass is always the same).


Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts

Which we are about to receive

From Thy bounty. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Two Thanksgivings ago when we sat down with my father-in-law and my Catholic mother-in-law for dinner, my mother-in-law asked us to pray.  She and I opened our mouths to say- Only my husband’s voice rang out, “Angel of God, my –.”  He looked around as my mother-in-law and I burst into laughter.  Of course, we thanked him for trying and went on with the “real” prayer.  (That story was for all the Catholics out there.)


Well, this Christmas, surrounded by Catholics, we prayed our before meal prayer with “The Sign of the Cross.”  Wouldn’t you know it?  Evan never argued on how to do it, just copied the rest, and amazingly, so did Sean.  When we got home and settled back into our routine, I made dinner, and after chasing everyone down for the meal and passing out food and plates, I forgot to pray, which is my usual reason.  But Evan piped up, “Mommy!  We have to pray!  Bless our food!”


I’m sorry Mommy is a bad Catholic; she remembers to fast on the right days but not to pray before the meals.


In closing, I will leave you the prayer my little brother would say when he was Evan’s age.


“Thank you for food, ‘prize, and patience.”


That was a prayer for the meal, a hope for a “surprise” like desert, and patience for my mom as she had three kids under the age of five and often she would yell, “God, give me some patience!”



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6 Responses to “The Importance of Prayer: or Teaching Memorization to a Toddler and a Preschooler”

  1. C Says:

    I have my girls pray too and they bless their food…it is so sweet and cute. I totally agree with you on why we should pray.~C

  2. KathyB! Says:

    The words don’t really matter — just the act and the sincerity.

    But it sure is sweet to see how the little ones (mis)interpret!!

    Precious 🙂

  3. Gibby Says:

    I am Catholic too (albeit a bad one) and I try to get my kids to have some sort of religious presence in their life. I think I am failing…hmmm, that would be a good post. Anyhow, I hate that “if I die before I wake” thing, too. Here is the bedtime prayer we settled on:

    I see the moon
    And the moon sees me.
    God bless the moon.
    And God bless me.

    God Bless Daddy, Mommy, etc…(including dogs, cats, our fish, etc. It takes a while.)

  4. faemom Says:

    C ~ Thanks for the commet.
    KathyB!~ With all the prayers they’ll have to memorize, I wonder what will the next (mis)interpretation be.
    Gibby~ That’s a great prayer! And I think you should right that post; moms somewhat failing at raising there kids religiously unite! C, you’re not allowed to join; you go to Church regularly, twice a week. Show off 🙂

  5. Michele S Says:

    Our bedtime prayer comes straight from the Liturgy of the Hours:

    Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake
    Watch over us as we sleep
    That awake, we may keep watch with Christ
    And asleep, rest in His peace.

  6. faemom Says:

    That’s beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

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