I love the tradition of praying the Stations of the Cross on Fridays during Lent, and I love doing it in our home around our prayer table. Sometimes it’s just our family, and other times it’s us and another family or two after sharing a simple soup super. But those of us with lots of young kids can find instituting the practice of praying the Stations (and other prayers) a bit daunting. It’s hard for them to sit still for that long when they are at young ages. They just don’t have the attention span and patience (especially in the evening) for the full blown version.
We have all littles (6 and under) right now, and I really desire for them to embrace this beautiful prayer practice and have it grow with them. So, a couple of years ago I created a kid-paced routine for praying the Stations — pieced together from various resources and practices I had observed other families doing. I use the children’s book The Way of the Cross as the guiding resource, which was a gift from godparents a few years back. It is so beautiful!
My kids love this routine. It can be as short as 10 minutes, which is often just the right amount of time when kids are young and learning to adopt this prayer practice. When you start small, it is easy to build on a practice with time and let it grow with your family. We want our children to love prayer — not be overwhelmed by it. After all, loving should be the goal of all of our prayers anyway.
Our family and friends have really enjoyed this routine, and I’m sharing it with you — just fill out the form below and you will get a PDF copy to use in your home. God bless your family’s Lenten journey!
Copyright 2018 Jessica Ptomey
As we begin the season of Lent there can be a lot of chatter about fasting, and we want to guard our hearts against missing the point entirely. It’s good to give up the things in our lives to which we tend to become attached. It’s not a bad thing that we give up social media, television, desserts, shopping, etc. We can all agree that in the course of a year we have probably packed a great deal of *stuff* into our lives that needs cleaned out. But if we mentally check a “fasting” box and move on, then we are going to miss the point of our fasting — to miss God’s idea of fasting — this Lent.
The point of fasting and prayer is to be able to hear God’s voice and do his will. It is good to fast from things that we are attached to so that we will be attached to God instead. It is also good to fast from things that take our time so that we have more time to spend with God. But it can be easy to get caught up in the spiritual practice of fasting and miss the point of it, which is to hear God’s voice…AND then do His will. What is God’s will? What kind of direction should we look for from Him when we fast? What is He going to say to us?
One of the readings in the Liturgy of The Hours for Ash Wednesday is from Isaiah 58. In this passage, God pretty explicitly lays out what His idea of fasting is and what kind of result it should have in our lives. Look at verses 6-7:
“This rather is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking free every yoke; sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own.”
Pretty clear, right? But let’s break it down a step further. If we are fasting with ears listening and hands ready for the Lord’s work, then we are going to personally hear God tell us: Continue reading “Fasting 101”
Ash Wednesday is the day after tomorrow — Lent seems to have snuck up fast this year! I’m sure you would not be alone if you are still deciding what to do for Lent. I have some suggestions that might help you. I’m not going to give you ideas of what to fast from or give up — listen to the Holy Spirit for that. But I do have some ideas for your reading/study material. I have three options that are all pretty different from each other…
Option #1 – Facebook Book Club
For those who enjoy online book clubs (and are not giving up social media for Lent), you may want to join the FB Abiding Together Podcast book study. I’m not a follower of this podcast, but I know a couple of people who listen to it and/or are participating in the study. The group is reading and discussing Henri Nouwen’s Life of the Beloved. I’m definitely going to add this book to my “Want To Read” category — it looks like a good one.
Option #2 – The Seven Penitential Psalms
Meditating on the psalms is a wonderful option for both Bible study and prayer. The psalms themselves make up a significant portion of liturgical prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours. There are Seven Penitential Psalms that are especially good to study and meditate on during penitential seasons/days of the Church: Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130 and 143. (The link above has some reflections too.) My recommendation would be to take one psalm for each of the six weeks of Lent to study and meditate on in prayer all week. Then tag on the seventh one during Holy Week or on Good Friday.
Option #3 – Read the Book of Exodus
You will see a lot of Exodus readings during Lent, because that’s an important book for this season of the Church. It’s kind of convenient — 40 days of Lent, 40 chapters in Exodus. Read a chapter a day. Start on Ash Wednesday and finish by Easter. (Hint: Sundays are not part of the 40 days of Lent. So you can use those to catch up if you get behind.) I’m actually doing this for Lent with a married couples group at our church. We are using this study with the text, commentary, and study questions by Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch.
Whatever you decide on, remember the point — to detach from the desire to please ourselves and draw closer to the Lord; to be abandoned to Him. Ask Him what will accomplish that goal for you. God bless your Lenten journey!
How about you? Any addition studies out there you want to recommend?
Copyright 2018 Jessica Ptomey