This post continues our series on the BCP in Daily Life. If you’re interested in submitting a reflection, email a 400-600 word post to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I find it really helpful to read what other families do in terms of daily prayer, in order to know what is reasonable to expect and also to be inspired with what is possible. So, I thought I would write about my little family’s evening prayer routine, as an example of the very minimum, the least difficult or inspiring (a beginner family’s daily prayer).
We have a 3 year old and an 8 month old. We began realizing it would be possible to actually incorporate our toddler into evening prayer Advent of 2015, when she was almost 2 and she looked forward every evening to lighting (and attempting to blow out) the Advent candles (see video below. )
So every evening, we turn off all of our lamps, we light the candle that we got last year for Candlemas (with Bley’s lovely printable, which our daughter has so enjoyed), and we kneel next to our couch. We pray the super short evening family prayer service (you can find a printable here) and then we sing the Nunc Dimittis together. Depending on the season or our daughter’s request, we’ll sing another hymn either in place of that canticle or in addition. And then our daughter blows out the candle and it’s time for bed.
When we started, our daughter’s version of the Lord’s Prayer sounded like this:
Chicken.. chicken… chicken… chicken… [i.e. “temptation.”]
POOOWWEEERRR. GLOOOORRRRY. Amen.”
Those were good moments.
Several months after her Our Father became more articulate, we were delighted by her addition of instruments to our singing. I play piano for our church, so apparently my daughter decided that she was going to be me for our evening prayer. One night, as we began to sing, she made us wait, grabbed her little play xylophone, a Winnie the Pooh puzzle piece, pulled up her rocking chair to the coffee table and solemnly commenced striking her xylophone as we sang the canticle. It was the most reverent xylophone playing I’ve ever witnessed. And for the next several months, my husband and I had to quell quite a bit of shaking laughter as we sang and enjoyed our toddler’s work of worship.
We initially debated about how strict we would be about making her participate. But mostly, we tend to overlook and try not to make a huge fight about it. It is a part of our evening that we enjoy and we don’t want it to become a struggle to dread. But generally, she does really well now and participates for the whole time (i.e. not long – 5 minutes). And now that she’s 3, we’ll start adding other elements soon.
It’s not impressive, but it’s something and it has been a settling rhythm in our daily life. I view this time with very young children as a season of setting placeholders in a routine. As her attention span grows, we’ll be able to add more Scripture reading and other elements. But, even with this short liturgy, it’s a blessing to find that such a small act can “lighten our darkness” and bring significant joy and peace.