It is important to teach children common prayer formulas, small phrases to repeat, even if they make mistakes and make mistakes. Otherwise, he will be completely helpless and will not know any prayer the day he feels the need to address God.
If we did not know these prayer formulas, there were many days when we would no longer skip praying. With a head full of worries but without prayer beads, you really don’t get very far. This is why it is important to teach our children short prayers from a young age.
The Our Father, the prayer of prayers
Whatever words we say in prayer we say nothing other than what is found in the Lord’s prayer, as long as our prayer is right and timely. Nothing will be found in the prayer of the saints which is not contained in this prayer, and if one is free to say it otherwise, one is not free to say another. The first prayer that we must teach children is therefore the Our Father . They don’t understand what they are saying? Not everything, no doubt, but they are very early able to grasp the essential, namely that God is their Father. This prayer learned “by heart” will imprint itself on them, in their hearts, in their intelligence, in order to then nourish their entire spiritual life.
The Hail Mary, the most beautiful prayer addressed to Mary
Hail Mayor echoes the words of the angel Gabriel . Learned from childhood, this prayer remains forever the lifeline to which we cling in days of distress, the light that shines when the darkness becomes too thick, the rope to which we cling to escape from the abyss of our sins and the simplest way to express our love.
Let us teach children the Hail Mary and give them the habit of greeting their mother in this way, of confiding in her, of throwing themselves into her arms to find rest and consolation. Repeating the Hail Mary tirelessly over the course of the rosary is not nonsense. When one of our children, snuggled in our arms, says to us again and again: “Mom, I love you!” “, we don’t think he’s rambling at all. It is exactly the same thing when we say the rosary.
To learn a prayer “by heart” is to learn it with your heart
Many other prayers can be learned by heart: the I believe in God, confident adherence to the Triune God at the same time as a clear summary of the essentials of the Faith of the Church; acts of Faith, Hope , Charity; prayers of penance such as the act of contrition and the I confess to God; psalms and biblical hymns (the Magnificat, for example) ; very short formulas, such as: “ Jesus , son of the living God, have mercy on me a sinner”. All these texts, especially when they are prayers taken from the Word of God, are like a treasure which continually nourishes our prayer.
To learn a prayer “by heart” is to learn it with your heart: not like a parrot, stupidly, but with your love and your intelligence. You don’t learn a prayer like you learn a lesson. We learn a prayer by praying. It is by hearing his parents say the Our Father and the Hail Mary every evening near his cradle that a child absorbs these texts very early. And one day, without ever having learned them in the academic sense of the term, he knows how to pray with these words, exactly as he knows how to use his mother tongue without ever having “learned” it.
The mother tongue of prayer is also silence
God, who reveals himself with words, also speaks to us in the silent language of prayer. And this is the whole difficulty and all the greatness of prayer: difficulty because it is dry to encounter Someone whom our senses cannot grasp; greatness because this “Someone” is greater than our words and it is given to us, through silence, to grasp the Elusive. Or rather: to let ourselves be grasped by Him.
“To learn a prayer “by heart” is to learn it with your heart: not like a parrot, stupidly, but with your love and your intelligence. »
Silence, therefore, is also the “mother tongue of prayer” and like everything else, it is discovered by looking at one’s parents, by seeing them stand in silence before God. Teaching silence to a child does not mean saying: “Shut up” but saying: “Listen”. Because the words of prayer ultimately have no other purpose than to make us attentive to the One who comes to love us.