During the last several years I have tried to observe the spiritual discipline of praying the hours. I have adapted the prayers often used in monasteries that observe seven times of prayer throughout the day. Morning prayer, Vespers (in the evening), and Compline completes the day.
It has been great to introduce my baby to prayer. In fact, the morning he was born, his mom and I used a prayer book I have and thanked God for a safe delivery and our newborn son. Prayer has been an essential part to our faith lives. It’s important to us to share that with our son.
It is here that I recall the words of Deuteronomy 6:
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. 6 Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. 7 Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.8 Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, 9 and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
We are called to recite the commands and way of God to our children. This includes sharing our faith with our children. For me, prayer, among other disciplines, is essential for me to connect with God. I have decided to include my son in some of those times of prayer. He often lays on the bed next to me or I’ll hold him as I offer the prayers and Scripture readings. Sometimes he falls asleep. Other times he looks at me the whole time.
This morning during morning prayer, he started to make noise as I prayed. It was like he wanted to join me in the Lord’s Prayer. It was very cute, but it was also a beautiful thing to witness my son’s praise to God. Just as Saint Francis called the birds of the air to sing to God and the sun and moon to shine to God, children and infants can share their cooing and gooing with God.
In fact, someone recently shared at church that if he cries during worship, that’s alright, he’s just praising God. That’s very true. Jesus agreed. In Matthew 21, when the chief priests and scribes heard children crying out in the temple, they became angry. Jesus asked them, “Do you hear what these are saying? Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise for yourself’?” Jesus quotes Psalm 8: 2 here. He didn’t become angry with the children’s praise, instead he encouraged it by quoting Scripture. Prayer comes in many different forms. Some prayer includes conversation with God. Sometimes prayer can be silence. Other times prayer can include the noise of our children.
I pray that my son will grow up to appreciate the power and connection we have in prayer. For now, I’m thankful for his cooing and gooing baby praise.