Prayer Time

I love family prayer time. Not only is it a time to come together to remember what is truly important in this life, but it is a time for us to check in with each other on where each of us are. Listening to my kids’ petitions is a fascinating glimpse into their personalities. (Not to mention, a good mental refresher of the issues, events and people at the forefront of my wife’s mind-many a time has one of Jackie’s petitions made me say, “Oh yeah, I should be praying for that more too.”)

Jude is pretty matter of fact in his petitions. They are usually the same from night to night, but every once in a while a new petition will pop up, and that shouldn’t be ignored. It shows he has really been thinking about something lately. We went through a long time of praying for an end to abortion and he prays to Gerard quite a bit.

Gus’ petitions lately have been very concerned with social justice. Where Jude is brief, Gus is verbose. He will pray for those who have no food, those with no clean water, those who don’t know God. He also offers solutions for each of these. My favorite reoccurring petition is: “For those who don’t have a home, that they will find a house that no one is living in or a rich person will give them some money so they can buy a home.”

And then there are Zelie and Xavier, proud to be included and eagerly awaiting their turn to pray to God. Often, they will repeat things Jude and Gus say. A roll call of everyone in the family is a must. It is pretty darn cute watching them try to compose their list of petitions and thanksgivings. Sometimes when they are more tired, the road from brain to mouth becomes a little jumbled. Zelie this week:

“For mom, and for dad, and for Xavey, and for me…and for Zelie…..….and for Zelie…….and for me…”

She knew there were other people on her list, but she just couldn’t get it out. Of course, by the fourth time praying for herself in a row, Jackie and I can’t hold the laughter in any longer. It doesn’t help that we sit across from each other on couches and can see each other straining to keep a straight face. Because if we laugh, that gives Jude and Gus permission to laugh as well. And if Jude and Gus are laughing, well, something must be funny, so Zelie and Xavier sure aren’t going to be left out. Once we compose ourselves:

“Ok, Zelie, let’s finish.”

(still oblivious to what caused the laughing, still tired) “…And for me.”

More laughter. Quickly collecting myself:

“Xavey who do you want to pray for?”

Zelie: “But I haven’t got to thank God yet!”

“Ok, what do you want to thank God for?”

“For my polka dot blanket and for my water bottle.”

“Very good. Xavey what do you want to pray for?”

Xavey (looking around the room mischievously, making sure his captive audience is watching, knowing full well what he is doing) For meeee.

Of course, we all lose it.

(confident of his power, an attentive student of anything that gets a laugh)“For me!”

I had to bite my cheeks to stop laughing and move us on. Of course, we don’t fall into hysterics every night. But when it happens, it is a joyful reminder that God is with us in our joys and our sorrows. Last week, Jackie was gone to Wichita for the night, and in my rush to finally. just. get the kids to bed, I had forgotten to pray for my niece during prayer time. Neither did Jude or Gus or Zelie. But Xavey, who had obviously been paying attention to all the prayers that had been offered in the weeks beforehand, whispered in that adorable two year old voice: “For Gwacie, and her so-joo-wee. For a mee-wa-cull. And for Aunt Patty. And for Uncle Paul. Amen.”

God is good.

Family Culture Plan Dec. 1-7

Sunday-train tracks
Monday-writing letters
Tuesday-Xavier’s name day party! S’mores!
Wednesday- horse rides
Thursday- build Lego forts
Friday-St. Nicholas’ feast day! Making popcorn balls
Saturday- load up firewood

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33 Comments

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33 responses to “Prayer Time

  1. Mom of 4 boys

    Joel, EVERY. TIME. I read your blog, I am filled with gratitude. Gratitude for my life. My family. For what a deliberate, creative, tender, firm father you are. For what a thoughtful, helpful, joyful, loving husband you are. For what a passionate, active, quiet, vocal disciple and evangelist for Christ you are. You help me to see again. Your words help me to take off my hiking boots, weary from the tedium of years of daily trudging and put on my dancing shoes! Thank you God for Joel.

    • Joel

      Aw thanks, Julie. That’s a compliment to star and read on rainy days. Good thing I had a big sister to teach me to laugh in the midst of all the craziness and to recognize the season of life I was in and savor it for what it was. Love you.

  2. Somehow that post made me laugh, and then tear-up. Well done.

    Lately, Philomena has been praying for “cheese crackers!” and “fox!” (although she mispronounces it, so it sounds like a certain vulgar 4-letter word).

  3. Oh! And I’ve said it before, but I love, love, love your “family culture plan.” It gives a deliberate-ness to the week…instead of just plodding through, as I tend to do.

  4. yep, as sarah said, i laughed then cried. i love you guys so much. i could say so much, but… i love you guys.

  5. This was beautiful. You have inspired me to be more engaged during our prayer time. Emma also is very eager to pray and often asks to have another turn. Love prayers of a 3 yr. old!

  6. Somehow I missed this treasure post until today. I like our evening family prayer for the same reasons as you but have to admit sometimes, more times, I just want to rush through it and get everyone to bed. This is a good reminded to stop and enjoy our precious time together praying with our kids while they’re young and willing.

  7. Mary Ellen said I should comment on your blog as birthday present.

  8. I mean, I don’t even know how I would narrow it down to just 1 comment.

  9. I of course enjoyed the part about Zelie’s humorous petition.

  10. But then Xavier’s response, (and his comic perceptiveness) were even better!

  11. We don’t often have the kids do petitions, but this kind of makes me want to do it more often…I didn’t realize we were missing out on such a comic opportunity.

  12. I can totally relate to the reletively reverential joy that comes from unsolicited humorous moments in prayer.

  13. In fact some of my warmest memories from prayer time are of when we all lost it over something said or done during prayers.

  14. Along the same lines, one of my most vivid memories from Totus Tuus was a session of Evening Prayer with Margaret, Jason and Keelin during which we could not contain the laughter.

    • [as an aside, your blog just went blank and a screen popped up that said, “You are posting comments too quickly. Slow down.” Even the interwebs cannot handle my level of obnoxiousness.]

  15. But, as I was saying before I got distracted by Totus Tuus memories and a blog shut down, is that I liked your blog.

  16. It was a good combination of humor and poignancy.

  17. The poignant part was of course the part with Xavier praying for Grace, and touching thought, made all the more poignant by your skillful re-telling, (with phonetic recreation) of the incident.

  18. The insights into your kids are interesting as well.

  19. Gus the socially just. I wouldn’t have thought of him that way on my own, but now that you point it out, it definitely fits.

  20. I really have just one last thought to share

  21. The last thought is not so much on this blog entry.

  22. [another aside, your blog is still trying to thwart me: I have been told again, “You are posting comments too quickly. Slow down.” This limited-comment-blog-enforcement-agent is starting to remind of the type of uptight authorities I may have encountered in high school that I got along so well with]

  23. As I was saying before I was interrupted, my last thought is not so much about your blog, as it is about you.

  24. And my thought is that I am sure glad to have you as a brother. I am glad that you have forgiven me for any injuries I may have caused (mental or psychological) and have been able to some how come to see my quirks as the endearing, lovable eccentricities of my personality. (I am assuming this is how you see them.)

  25. And so, on this Dec. 13, of 2013, in this 32nd comment of this blog post, I want to wish you a very happy, and a very blessed 32nd birthday!

  26. Joel

    I saw “32 Comments” and literally, within a second, I thought: “Mark.”

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