You Can Pray With Your Kids in the Car: Here's How One Catholic Dad Squeezes Some Prayer into the Drive to School

Alishia posted about assigned seating for kids in the car, and that made me think about other practicable forms of order in the car.

So I thought I would share what I do when I drive the girls to school: we pray.

If you want to pray more with your kids, you can pray with them in the car. They're a captive audience.

Praying with Kids in the Car

The Format for Praying in the Car with Kids

Our morning driving-to-school prayer runs in this format:

  1. Dad Starts the Prayer. I usually start the prayer after (a) making sure everyone's buckled and (b) finishing my coffee. Then I say: "Let's pray." Then the Sign of the Cross.
  2. Dad Gives an Extemporaneous Prefatory Prayer. For example: "Father, we need your help today in school and at work," or, "God, thank you for the day and the work we will do in school and in the office ...." 
    • This prefatory prayer is longer or shorter, depending on the prevailing mood in the car.
    • When the morning school-prep routine has run roughly, I usually keep it short, since the girls are glowering at me with their arms folded in a huff. I don't push my luck.
  3. Dad Launches into the Our Father. After the impromptu preface, I segue into the Lord's prayer: "We pray the prayer that Jesus taught us: Our Father ...."
  4. Dad or Kid Starts the Hail Mary. I will sometimes designate one of the girls to start us off in the Hail Mary.
    • I do this when I feel a need to increase participation, if there's early-morning reluctance to pray out loud. If I have one kid as the designated Hail Mary leader, I'll know that at least that one kid is participating. I'll take what I can get.
  5. The Round of Saints. After the Hail Mary, I invoke a saint (usually, St Thomas Aquinas or St Josemaria Escriva starts us off) and the girls say: "Pray for us." Then, the girl in the passenger seat names a saint. Then we all say "Pray for us."
    • That pattern repeats itself, moving clockwise through the car, until each kid in the back seat gets to name a saint, and the chance to name a saint comes back to me.
    • When it's dad's turn to name a saint again, I will either (a) name another saint or (b) wrap up prayer time by saying "All of God's holy angels and saints," which triggers the final "Pray for us." Everybody knows we're done.
  6. The Concluding Sign of the Cross. After the prayer finishes, we either chat for the rest of the trip to school, or we enjoy a silence slightly holier than it had been before. Maybe there's less glowering.

For a Catholic dad who wants (1) to pray with his kids and (2) to teach them about prayer, this is a  manageable way to work toward that goal.

If you try this with your kids, or have your own way of praying with your kids, let me know about in the comments section.