This article is adapted from the book 77 Ways to Pray with Your Kids.
Right before bed is often a good time to have a short family prayer service; see Family Prayer Time for ideas and suggestions.
If you prefer, you can have your children pray a short prayer in (or kneeling next to) their beds. Check out Six Evening Prayer Options for Catholic Families for some basic children’s bedtime prayers; older kids and teens may prefer to pray some of the evening prayers from the Liturgy of Hours.
- Bless your child.
- Do a kid-friendly Daily Examen.
- Talk about the day’s Highs and Lows, using them to launch a short, spontaneous prayer.
- Keep a small picture of Jesus, Mary, or the angels where your child can see it from bed. (You can also purchase religiously themed nightlights.)
- Read a Bible story and use it to launch a short prayer. The Catholic Book of Bible Stories by Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton (Zonderkidz, 2004) (Amazon) includes a brief prayer at the end of each story.
- Or, use another religious children’s book and do a little kid-friendly lectio divina with it; see Sacred Story Time for the basic method.
- Sing a kid-friendly religious song from a hymnal or an album of religious children’s songs.
- Make a Prayer Pillowcase for your child’s pillow.
- Write names of family and friends on small slips of paper. Have each child pick a slip out of a hat and pray a special intention for that person.
- Pray a modified, kid-friendly version of the rosary; see 13 Tips for Praying the Rosary with Kids.
- Use the five forms of prayer outlined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (see Pray the Five Forms of Prayer) or Pope Francis’s Five-Finger Prayer.
- Keep a prayer journal or gratitude journal by your child’s bedside for writing down her prayers.
- Read the story of a saint and use it to pray for the saint’s intercession.
- Keep a list of prayer intentions and use them to guide bedtime prayers.
- Recite traditional Catholic prayers such as the Our Father, Hail Mary, the Prayer to St. Michael, the Canticle of Mary, etc. If you recite one or more of these prayers slowly every night, most children old enough to talk will eventually join in.
- Light a candle and turn out the lights to help focus your kids.
What else do you like to do for bedtime prayers? Leave a comment, and we might include it in future versions of this article.