INTRODUCTION TO WEEK THREE: PRAYER
Because this week opens with the Sunday of St. Gregory Palamas, who defended hesychasm, ‘the prayer of the heart’ and the teaching that God can reveal Himself to human beings through His energies, the theme for this week is prayer. We’ll begin with the life of St. Gregory of Palamas and his teachings about prayer, and we’ll consider various different prayers and Saints who are known for their prayers!
This week we will be learning together about how Our Lord taught us to pray. We will discuss the difference between hard and soft hearts. We’ll consider a few prayers that we can practice. We will study the example of young people who continued praying even though it got them into trouble; we will hear about persevering in prayer; and last but not least, we’ll be challenged to give glory to God in all things.
Crafts & Activities for this week:
- When St. Gregory Palamas was a young monk, he devoted himself to praying the “Prayer of the Heart,” or the “Jesus Prayer.” Talk together as a family about the Jesus Prayer. When should we pray it? Hang a copy (hand written, or an artistically embellished version of a printed one such as this printable pdf) in your prayer corner so that you can practice praying this prayer together as a family.
- To encourage your children to pray, work with each child to create their own personal prayer book. For younger children, purchase an inexpensive 4×6 photo album. Together with your child, select photos that remind them of who they would like to remember in their prayers. (ie: your Church, your priest and other clergy, your city or neighborhood, individual family members, friends, etc.) Print the pictures and insert them in the photo album “prayer book.” Each day, they can look through their prayer book and say “Lord, have mercy on…” and pray for the person in each picture. For older children, select prayers that you frequently pray together or that the children particularly like, and use those to fill a pocket-sized notebook (you can make your own with a cardstock cover and a few blank pages stapled inside). Your child can handwrite or type and print the prayers for their prayer book. They can also have a page or two where they can list names of individuals whom they wish to remember. It’s okay to leave some pages blank, for them to fill as they discover other prayers that they wish to pray. Encourage your children to keep their prayer book at your prayer corner or in their own private prayer corner, if they have one in their room.
- Together as a family, talk about the use of a prayer rope. Does anyone in your family use one regularly? If so, how does it help them? Practice praying the “Jesus Prayer” with a 33-knot rope. Then, consider making your own together to wear during the rest of Great Lent, to remind you to continue to work on praying this wonderful prayer regularly. If you do not know how to tie the knots, there are many tutorials to be found online. If this is too daunting for you, order an already-made prayer rope to use as you pray. If you have small children that like to craft, you could make a beaded version that they can use for prayers. String 32 pony beads and a cross bead onto an elastic string, and knot it tightly. They can pray the “Jesus Prayer” for each bead, including the cross.
- Use your 33-knot prayer rope (or beaded bracelet) to pray for the whole world! Fr. Patrick O’Grady has translated (from the Greek) a list of 33 one-sentence prayers for the world. This printable pdf can help you pray for the world, thanks to his translation!
- St. John Chrysostom offered a list of 24 short prayers, meant to be prayed hourly. Print this printable PDF if you wish to begin to pray each hour’s prayer. You may want to print several. If you do, place one copy in your prayer corner, another on the fridge, another near the bathroom mirror, etc., so that they are easily accessible wherever you will be in those hours.
- If you do not already have modeling clay on hand, purchase some. Set it up in a place where the family can sculpt with it at will throughout the week. As you use the clay, pay attention to how difficult it is to maneuver when it is cold and hard, vs. how easy it is to shape when it is warm and soft. This experience will greatly enhance Tuesday’s meditation when we focus on one of St. Gregory Palamas’ teachings about how closeness to God through prayer softens the heart of our soul.
Week Three — all in one PDF for younger children
Week Three — all in one PDF for older children