Family Prayer

Homily Excerpt

by Fr. Tommy Lane

This is an excerpt as the remainder of the homily was relevant for a particular time.

Let us not waste time but spend time in prayer. If your family does not pray together, why not make a start now? I understand very well that it is difficult for families to pray together because some family members may not want to pray or because some are coming and going and it is difficult to find a time when all or most of the family are together. Make a definite decision at this time of world instability to pray together as a family every day. Choose a room where there will be no distractions, a room in the house where people will not be coming and going. Make a set time for the prayer and begin. Even if you are the only person in your family who wants to pray, continue to pray on your own. Maybe in time others may join you. I know of a family that has decided to pray together at 10:00pm every night. Every night everything comes to a stop at 10:00pm and they pray together. Even if the phone rings while they pray they do not answer it. Those who know the family know they begin to pray at 10:00pm and that there is no point in phoning after 10:00pm any day. Prayer comes first. That is just one example. Find a time to suit your family.

As well as finding a time to suit your family you will also need to find a way of praying that suits your family. Prayer should uplift us and help us to rise above the burdens we carry. Remember when Jesus suffered his agony in Gethsemane. At first he could not carry his burden, he prayed that the chalice of suffering would be taken from him. But through his prayer he found strength to face his cross and then he was able to say, “not my will but yours be done.” If our prayer works it should also uplift us so that we can face the difficulties of life. So find a way of praying that will do that for your family. There are lots of helps for prayer available in religious bookshops. I also ask you to give serious consideration to using some of the Rosary as part of the family prayer. It is not just saying words, we are meant to meditate on the mysteries of the lives of Jesus and Mary as we pray. It is a beautiful prayer to Mary who is a mother so close to us.

I am convinced that if enough people prayed the course of world history could be changed. We don’t believe enough in the power of prayer. If we did, we would pray more. Think about this example. Dr David Jeremiah relates the following incident.

While serving at a small field hospital in Africa, I traveled every two weeks by bicycle through the jungle to a nearby city for supplies. This required camping overnight halfway. On one of these trips, I saw two men fighting in the city. One was seriously hurt so I treated him and witnessed to him about the Lord Jesus Christ. I then returned home without incident. Upon arriving in the city several weeks later, I was approached by the man I had treated earlier. He told me he had known that I carried money and medicine. He said, “Some friends and I followed you into the jungle, knowing you would camp overnight. We waited for you to go to sleep and planned to kill you and take your money and drugs. Just as we were about to move into your campsite, we saw that you were surrounded by 26 armed guards. I laughed at this and said, “I was certainly all alone out in the jungle campsite.” The young man pressed the point, “No sir, I was not the only one to see the guards. My five friends also saw them, and we all counted them. It was because of those guards that we were afraid and left you alone.” At this point of my church presentation in Michigan, one of the men in the church stood up and interrupted me. He asked, “Can you tell me the exact date when this happened?” I thought for a while and recalled the date. The man in the congregation then gave his side of the story. He stated, “On that night in Africa it was day here. I was preparing to play golf. As I put my bags in the car, I felt the Lord leading me to pray for you. In fact, the urging was so great that I called the men of this church together to pray for you. Will all those men who met to pray please stand?” The men who had met that day to pray together stood. . . there were 26 of them!
(Dr. David Jeremiah’s story about prayer is published in Prayer, the Great Adventure)

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered when I was engaged in parish ministry in Ireland before joining the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

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