By Father Bill Kneemiller
At the end of the monthly meeting for the Knights of Columbus in Blue Grass, where I serve as chaplain, I usually do a short concluding prayer. Then I ask whether anyone wants to join me for Night Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours.
On this particular night I didn’t feel like staying; I was tired and it was bitterly cold outside with a wind chill factor of zero. Still, I asked if anyone wanted to join me and, to my surprise, about 10 of the guys said yes. A couple of senior Knights showed the new guys the basics of Night Prayer from the book, which further impressed me. This experience helps reinforce for me a lesson for family prayer — keep to your prayer routine, even when you don’t feel like it. Every minute of prayer is precious.
A few days later, at the Sunday morning KC Pancake Breakfast in Blue Grass, I did an informal interview on family prayer. I asked Mory Pranger, “Why is family prayer important?” Mory said, “Prayer keeps us more connected to God as it draws each of us closer to each other as we pray as a group.”
“Prayer is so different from watching TV with your family because prayer teaches us what God wants to teach us about love, friendship and happiness.” Mory concluded that prayer takes away the anxieties and frustrations of the day!
I asked Grand Knight Chris Rubley about prayer and he mentioned that “with all the electronics all around us, we need a break from ‘talking to machines’ to talking with our families and inviting God to be part of our family. Prayer can be like exercise; we may not feel like doing it, but we come out fulfilled.”
Allen Seddon added: “In praying, we are relaxed and it engages the whole family.” Chris added: “Prayer puts everything together.” I mentioned that Paul’s letter to the Colossians, chapter 1, states that “All were created through him (Christ); all were created for him … in him everything continues in Being.” Both Chris and Allen said it is important that when we pray Night Prayer that each of us has a book and is actively involved. “Then prayer is more personal to me and means more!”
One more “Pancake breakfast interview:” Chris Evans, whose husband Dave is active with the KCs, said that “The family that prays together stays together! We have five kids and, these days, life is busier than ever. Prayer can be just a mini-prayer, some simple words of gratitude and thanksgiving; ‘Lord thank you for this beautiful day!’”
Chris gave me some practical examples from her family. Her oldest son subscribes to “Magnificat,” which publishes a booklet of daily devotions. Also, each of the children has their own little book when they do Night Prayer before bedtime. Just like their parents, they are more involved when they have their own book to read and pray from! Chris continued: “My husband and I pray together every day, either with the Bible, the ‘Magnificat’ booklet, or we do a decade of the rosary together.” She advised others, “Don’t be intimidated by the rosary because it takes more time to do all five decades. Even with just one decade, you will be reflecting on one of the mysteries of the life of Christ!”
I encourage all families to pray every day, even if it’s shorter prayers. Don’t worry about praying perfectly. Prayer routines are helpful to get in the habit of daily prayer. Also, some suggestions if you need a booklet: “Magnificat” publishing company offers a complimentary copy through its website, www.magnificat.net. The company also offers free copies (no limit to larger groups) by writing a few months ahead to: Magnificat Co., PO Box 822, Yonkers, NY 10702.
If any KC council or other groups would like a few complimentary copies of “Shorter Christian Prayer” to promote family prayer in their communities, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Fr. Kneemiller is chaplain at The Kahl Home in Davenport.)