This is the third installment of our series on bringing children to adoration as part of a response to the USCCB’s call for a Eucharistic Revival. In the first part of the series, we looked at why it is both appropriate and important for children to go to adoration. In the second, we looked at how you can prepare for taking your family to adoration from two angles. The first is how to approach the pastor or parishioners who may not be used to kids in adoration, and the second was some tips on how to prepare your children for the experience. In this third and final part of the series, we will offer some specific tips to help your children engage with the Lord during a time of adoration.
5 Ways To Engage Children With Jesus During Adoration
1) Guided imaginative prayer – Children have wonderful imaginations. You can play into those strengths by encouraging them to engage in imaginative prayer. Imaginative prayer is simply imagining yourself in a specific spiritual context and giving the Lord the opportunity to interact with you in that space. Some common ways of engaging in imaginative prayer are reading a gospel passage, such as a parable or healing story, and imagining yourself in that scene. What do you notice? What does is sound like, smell like, look like, etc.? Is there a character you can imagine yourself being? The Psalms are another great book for imaginative prayer. You can ask, How do you think he felt while writing this? When have you felt this way? For older children, they could even write their own psalms. A final thought on imaginative prayer is that you can simply have your child imagine that they are playing with Jesus, or that they are snuggled up in his arms listening to his heartbeat. It’s not a bad idea for adults either.
2) If your kids are old enough, reading is a great option. The Bible is always a good bet (here’s a good children’s bible), but there are also tons of good books out there on spiritual topics for kids of all ages. I always try to know something about what my kids are reading so that I can ask some good questions and converse with them about the book.
3) Silent or whispered prayer. One of the suggestions in part two was to write a letter to God in preparation for coming to adoration. If your child can read, they can silently read their letter to Jesus. If not, you can always quietly read it for them. It’s a great way to pray together. You can also give them three categories of prayer that they can think about or whisper to God: thanksgiving, praise, and intercession. In our family we made a little sheet with pictures as prompts for those who can’t read.
4) Just listen. This may be a tough one for some kids, but I’ve seen others take to it like fish to water. One thing of particular note here is that listening may look very different from one kid to the next. For some, just sitting quietly works. Others will actually listen better if they have the chance to move. Some listen best while engaged in something else, like coloring. We never know what God is doing in someone’s heart, and so it’s usually best to give the benefit of the doubt.
5) This one is out there a bit, but if your child has a favorite stuffed animal or something quiet, you may even let them bring it and just play before the Lord. One of the most tender moments of parenting that I have experienced is watching the little ball of joy I helped create just play. I can’t help but imagine that the Lord feels the same way. It’s also a good reminder for us adults that adoration isn’t about doing, it’s about being. Being in the presence of our God who loves us. There is a story that St. John Vianney was once asked what he did in adoration. He replied, “Nothing. I just look at Him and He looks at me.”
Hopefully these give you some ideas for helping your child or children get the most out of the sacrament of the Eucharist in adoration. One final note to leave you with. It was referenced in the 4th point above, but please do not ever try to judge the value of a period of time spent in adoration. You never know how the spirit is working. Trying to determine whether your children (or you) seem to have “gotten anything” from the experience is a fool’s errand. If you were before the Lord in adoration, it was good. Think of the Transfiguration and Peter’s declaration, “Lord, it is good that we are here,” (Mark 9:5). Peter hadn’t done anything; he was merely in the Lord’s presence. So too when we go to adoration, it is good that we are there.
We hope that this has been helpful. We’d love to hear about your experience in adoration with children in the comments!
Find more great Catholic content for children and ideas to implement with your family HERE!