It is important to teach kids how to pray the Rosary, the Angelus, and other common Catholic Prayers. These should be taught in the home, but sometimes the Catechist is called to help. One of the most terrifying things you can do in the classroom is to ask a child to lead prayer. Yet, we can easily teach our children how to lead prayer in the classroom. These steps can be used with kids as young as five.
Step 1: The Catechist is the Prayer Mentor
The catechist needs to be a person of deep prayer and be the example of prayer for the class. The opening prayer for each class should always be done by the Catechist. This sets the tone. Even if you want to practice a specific prayer with them, you can still offer a spontaneous prayer and conclude with your memorized prayer.
Step 2: Mentor with Short Prayers
In the beginning, it is important to lead prayers that are easy for a child to recognize a pattern and imitate. For example: O God, thank you for this day and help our class to know you better. We ask this through Jesus. Amen.
Step 3: Just Get Started
Do not wait for a magical moment to begin having the kids pray. Have one or all of your kids offer a closing prayer at the end of class. Encourage them to close their eyes, fold their hands in prayer, and imitate the opening prayer.
Step 4: Teach Prayer as a Response
Kids should learn to incorporate the class in their closing prayer. I call this “Responsory Prayer” for my students. We pick something from the class or Mass that we could hear or see God at work in and incorporate this into our individual prayer. I ask all my students to say a Responsory Prayer at the end of class. I go first and set the example.
Here is an example of prayers my students recently made when learning about the Immaculate Mary hymn as we created Psalters for each kid.
- Dear God, thank you for this day, help me to have self-control, and help me to have virtue like Mary. Amen.
- Dear God, thank you for this day and help me to love Mary.
These prayers were offered by small children. You can see how they are similar, simple, and incorporate something from the class that day.
Step 5: Challenge Them
Challenge the students to grow beyond the simple prayers of comfort. In the beginning, small children and teens both tend to stick with personal petitions and personal thanksgiving. Place a jar in your room with different types of prayer. Ask each student to draw one and incorporate it into their closing or Responsory Prayer. Examples could include:
- Give THANKS for something in someone else’s life.
- PETITION (ask) God for something for someone else.
- ADORE God as God.
- PRAISE God for the work of creation or redemption or some manifestation of God’s work in your life.
Spontaneous prayer forces a student to unite their mind and voice. Hopefully we can also mentor them in the use of their heart. There is no hiding in spontaneous prayer, and there is no mindless routine. When memorized prayers and devotions are introduced in class, the students will now have a firmer foundation for praying the prayer and not simply the saying of the prayer.