Seeing children pray out loud in school changed me

Prayer, especially those said out loud together, is something that should never be pushed to the side, no matter how busy we are.

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Somewhere along the way, during my time as a full-time work-from-home mother of four, juggling all of the school runs and the lunch packing and the laundry folding and the toilet scrubbing and the never-ending trips to the grocery store (seriously, why is this all my life consists of ??), I lost sight of something that used to be very important to me:

I lost sight of my prayer life.

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Prayer was once a very vital part of my life. Growing up, one of my most beloved possessions was my Missal for Mass—my parents gifted it to me for my First Communion, and I know that back then, it was a huge financial sacrifice for them to be able to afford that. I’ll never forget the feel of the smooth leather under my hands as I flipped through the pages, or the way the plastic edges accommodated all of my favorite prayer cards. I loved all of my daily prayers and I continued my habit of praying every day well into college, where I made time every morning and night to read prayers out of my “little blue book.” I found solace in their words and comfort in their promises.

But slowly, over time, much like my ability to fit into a size below double digits, I stopped praying. It was never anything deliberate, but rather letting go of something that didn’t feel like it fit in my life anymore. Praying? Nobody got time for that. I told myself that as a mom, my life is a walking prayer as opposed to actually sitting and praying out loud.

A few—or ten—years passed and I hit a point in my life where we encountered some losses. I went through my first miscarriage, mourning what would have been our fifth baby, and we had a death in the family that really sent many of us reeling in shock. The day I learned about my cousin’s death was also the day that I visited my oldest daughter at her school, where she was celebrating being the special “star” student of the week. My youngest child and I brought in donuts to the class, and while we were there, we witnessed something that brought me to tears right there in the back of the classroom, something that made me realize how very wrong I had been for letting prayer slip from my life.

As I stood back, pouring cider and organizing donuts, the teacher started prayer time, and 24 eight-year-olds took turns saying their prayer intentions out loud. My own daughter stood tall, eyes closed, as she prayed for my cousin and our family, and the entire class raised up her intention in prayer. Each student went around the room saying their own prayer intention and when a little boy broke down in tears that his aunt had passed away, several students got out of their seats, crossed the room to embrace him, and then the entire class said extra prayers for both him and his aunt.

Seeing those students all join together and raise their voices in prayer reminded me that collective prayer—out loud—has power.

I was blown away.

Here I was, a 30-year-old woman pretending that I was “too busy” or “too good” for taking five seconds out of my day to actually pray out loud, and I witnessed a group of kids put into literal words the power of prayer.

MORE TO READ: Sending my kids to religious school helped me reconnect with my faith

Seeing those students all join together and raise their voices in prayer reminded me that collective prayer—out loud—has power. Standing in the presence of that prayer, I felt its palpable weight in the room, and I knew that I was being shown the power of what happens when we join our voices in prayer.

With prayer, and especially prayers said out loud together, we join our voices together in times of sorrow, in times of gratitude, and in times of love and hurt.

Since that day, the day I learned from a room full of third-graders that we are never too busy for prayer, I’ve been trying harder to make prayer a part of my life again. From the smallest whispers under my breath when the four-year-old is trying my patience again, to the list of what I am thankful for anytime I feel the stirrings of discontent, to the nightly prayers we are saying as a family, I am feeling, for the first time in a long time, the power of prayer again.

I may have forgotten what prayer used to mean to me, but now that I have it back in my life, I don’t ever want to let it go. Because with prayer, nothing is off limits—I love hearing my kids pray for spelling tests and the poor in the same breath.

With prayer, and especially prayers said out loud together, we join our voices together in times of sorrow, in times of gratitude, and in times of love and hurt. And that is something that should never be pushed to the side, no matter how busy we are.

 

Chaunie Brusie
Chaunie Brusie

Chaunie Brusie is a labor and delivery nurse turned writer. She’s the author of “Tiny Blue Lines: Preparing For Your Baby, Reclaiming Your Life, and Moving Forward in an Unplanned Pregnancy,” and a mom of four who lives in Michigan. Find her at tinybluelines.com.

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