What We’re Teaching Our Children About Prayer

A Thin Foundation

Growing up, I didn’t really have a strong foundation in the area of prayer, or how it worked, or what it really meant. I knew in a general sense that prayer was talking to God, and that it often meant asking Him for something, or giving thanks. A lot of times I saw people pray for things they wanted to happen that didn’t come true, even though they prayed for it really hard.

That kind of thin, shapeless theology ended up causing trouble for me as a young adult. I didn’t understand how my prayers would even matter a little bit to a God who had so many bigger problems to deal with. I also didn’t think prayer really worked, so I went through the motions of praying at church and with family. And when alone, I didn’t really pray at all.

Fast forward to raising children and becoming Catholic. I understand prayer a lot differently now, I think, in part, because I understand God differently. As such, in our home, we’ve become much more intentional about how we pray, and what we teach our children about it, which can be boiled down to three main ideas.

1: Share Anything On Your Heart

This is one aspect of prayer that I understand better because I’m a parent. We teach our kids that they can literally come to God with anything on their hearts. As such, our kids often pray really beautiful, honest, and vulnerable things. And sometimes they pray that they would grow up to become super heroes and rock stars, too.

We teach them this because, as parents, I don’t care what my kid is feeling, I am ready to hear their heart. Any thought they have that they want to share, I will kneel on the floor in a heartbeat and lean in close. I want them to know I am a safe space for the vulnerable places inside them, or the joyful places, or the silly ones. God is the absolute best Father, and I am certain that He leans close too, no matter what we have to say.

2: God Gives What We Ask…Or Something Better

I think prayer can sometimes fall into operating like a slot machine, where we want the answer we want and right when we want it. We can get disillusioned if we get something else instead, or if we receive silence. Which is why we also teach our kids that God always, always, answers our prayers. And if he doesn’t give us what we ask for, he will give us something better.

Now, this doesn’t mean if you ask God for a lollipop that He’ll give you an entire candy store, although He could! What it does mean is that God knows our needs far better than we do, and we need to trust that He can and will only give us what is good for us.

I think, if I let them, my kids would eat pure sugar for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They might think that sounds amazing. They might think doing that would be the very best thing. But I know a bit about growth and nutrition and blood sugar, and, because I know what’s good for them, I can’t let them have candy any time they want. I have to say no and offer them an apple instead.

God might answer our prayers a different way than we asked it. But He is Good, and just like as a parent I understand that certain things are good or bad for my children that they might not understand or see, God knows which things are good or bad for us too, and He will never give us something that isn’t truly good.

3: The Role of Suffering in Prayer

Which brings me to this. We also teach our kids that sometimes God might allow us to suffer. We live in a world that is fixated on comfort, and often strives to avoid suffering at all costs. But our Catholic faith doesn’t even come close to teaching that comfort is best. Sure, we can and should hope for better things to come, but we also need learn to accept what He gives. Sometimes, there might be a thing that is broken inside us that will hurt while it mends. Growing in holiness comes with the pain of releasing attachment to sin. We don’t deserve comfort, even though sometimes we are gifted it generously, and for that we can and should be grateful.

But our goal isn’t comfort. Our goal is sainthood, whatever it takes. We need only to look at the cross to see how suffering is redemptive. The most loving God saved us through it.

The Three Things

Let’s especially remember, as we head into a new year after a year that brought so many hardships on a global scale, to ask God for whatever’s on our hearts, trust that His answer is good, and to accept what He gives, even if it means we need to accept the call to suffer. These are three big things I’ve learned about prayer as a parent and a Catholic. And I pray that my kids will hold onto these truths both now while they’re children, and as they grow up in the faith.


Purchase Lorelei’s Books Here:

Success! You're on the list.

The Prayers of My Children

The Prayers of a Child

My kids, well the ones old enough to talk, talk to God like he’s a friend. They just tell him what they hope for in their own lives, and who they want to intercede for. Felicity for the longest time prayed for her preschool teacher who had a bothersome tooth. Auggie prays for his baby teeth to come out, which I think is his three-year-old way to tell God he longs to be bigger and more grown up. He’s had to show a lot of patience while waiting to be big enough for things like a big boy bike, and to be old enough to play soccer, and to be able to occasionally skip nap. They just lay it out, no holds barred.

Then we have our family prayers. Our kids know The Angel Prayer, where they ask their guardian angel to watch over them, The Lord’s Prayer, Good Night Dear Lord, and a few others, including the Hail Mary.

The Blessing of Continuity

And, though I never in a million years thought I’d send my kids to Catholic schools (particularly in my pre-Catholic days,) we have been so blessed by St. Lucy’s Catholic School, and our kids have only been going there for 3 months. Particularly, I’m loving the continuity between our home life, church life, and school life.

And a couple weeks back our kids came home with a mini rosary. Ten beads strung on pipe cleaners and twisted together at the end. That simple little tool has added a whole new layer to our family prayers at the end of many days.


Felicity leads us in the decade, holding on to each bead as she prays, and we join in. I watch the ease with which she asks for Mary to pray for us. I feel peace wash over me as it so often does when praying a prayer I was once so afraid to pray. In the prayers of my child we settle in as a family and draw nearer to Jesus.

Unity At Last

It is such a visible, tangible, audible reminder of the unity of our family in faith. Ten years ago I didn’t know how we would handle our different faith traditions when we had children. I didn’t have much reason to believe that this level of unity would one day be a part of our lives. But I hoped and prayed for it as JP and I found our way.

And, as I listen to the simple and pure prayers of my children, I realize just how deeply that desperate prayer has been answered. And it is such a beautiful thing.


Success! You're on the list.

Purchase Lorelei’s Books Here:

Finding Peace Amidst Chaos In Adoration (Catholic Stand)

(The article below originally appeared on Catholic Stand. Click here to read.)

Letters To God

While sorting through a bin of items from my childhood, I came across several pages of prayer journals. In different phases of my life, I would write my prayers to God in letter form. The letters are written in such familiar language, as though I was writing a letter to a best friend. They made me smile. Some of my letters were written during normal times where nothing extraordinary or desperate was happening. Others were written during relatively difficult periods of time. But they were all very honest and trusting. They were also all handwritten, which means I made the effort to steal away and share my heart with my God.

In particular, these letters reminded me that I am currently far from the place where make such a concerted effort to pray. I pray, yes. But they are shorter, more fleeting prayers: praying with the kids before bed, praying a Hail Mary during the day. There is a place for those prayers inserted into the daily routine, to be sure. But there is also, I think, a need and a place to slow ourselves down and let the world melt away and connect with our Creator on a more intentional level.

How Quickly We Forget

I have to smile and shake my head a bit at how, despite all the changes in technology and industry and convenience, human nature really changes very little. For example, the Israelites witnessed God parting an entire sea to save them from the pursuit of Pharaoh and sustained them with manna. They so soon forgot, however, and built idols made of gold. Similarly, I forget so easily the balance, peace, and joy that is in my life when I intentionally spend time with God.

I know, historically, that the times where I am the most peaceful, the most grounded, and have the most perspective are the times in my life when I make time to pray. There was the summer I babysat several days a week and, while the kids napped, I would spend the time in devotion. There was the spring I went through a break-up and met God daily in my sorrow. There were many times when nothing in particular was going on, and I just acknowledged it was important and made the time.

But then I get comfortable. I let my priorities subtly, yet consistently shift. In those phases of life, when fleeting prayers are all that sustains me, something significant is out of balance. I am quicker to anger. I am more easily burdened by the stressors of life. I lose perspective on what is truly important. The Israelites and I? We have more in common than I’d like to think.

Making God Time A Priority

I am always going to be busy, though as the years go on the business takes on different forms. In high school, it was extracurriculars, and calculus homework. In early married life it was graduate school and learning how to be a teacher. Now, it’s three children aged five and under who are always hungry and who leave a trail of toy wreckage in their wake.

My husband recently (and gently) pointed out that I have many Martha-like tendencies. I spin many plates. Most of them necessary. I spin the plates of meal planning, house-keeping, playing with the kids, writing, and planning ahead so our family has what we need. Anxiety doesn’t rule my life, but there is more of it that I’d prefer when I am always focusing on the plates I spin, instead of looking up beyond the plates, to the One who created these gifts in my life. The gifts of food to eat, and a home to keep, and children to love, and a brain that loves to create and plan.

Amidst the business, there must still be time for God. Yes, he is there with us in the chaos. But he is also there, waiting for us to spend time with Him. He is there, in the quiet of our bedroom, or backyard, or coffee shop. He is there, in the Eucharist at each and every Catholic parish. He waits for us there in a full and real and tangible way.

Finding Adoration

Prior to becoming Catholic, I had access to God in many beautiful ways and many beautiful places through my Christian faith.

But one of the many significant gifts I have access to now through being Catholic, is the gift of Adoration. When I am weary, when I am burdened, I can go to my parish, and sit with my Savior. After our Mary/Martha conversation, I knew I was past due for some time sitting at my Savior’s feet.

So I went to Eucharistic Adoration. I entered to the scent of incense, a symbol of the prayers of the people rising up to God. I didn’t go with any specific agenda, or prayer requests in mind. I just wanted to slow down and remember what it felt like to be with God.

Through the brief time I was able to spend in Adoration, I found it was difficult to slow down my ever quickly moving mind. I realized it’s probably pretty tricky for God to get through to me sometimes when my own brain is moving a million miles an hour. I need to remember to slow down. I didn’t have any lightning bolt revelations, or earth-shattering clarity. But I did have rest. How beautiful is it that God is always there waiting for us? He is there in Adoration, in the Eucharist, in all those created in His image, in the world He set into motion in a universe filled with stars, voids, gravity, and light.

He is so patient with us. He finds us where we are, and makes Himself available for us to come to him. Where he veils himself in something so humble as the bread and the wine. Which, when I think about the immensity of God, isn’t that different from when He veiled His glory in the body of a human man.

It humbles. It inspires awe.

And so, I will go again to the feet of my Lord until I remember how to slow down my mind, to sit and to be, and to let Him fill me with his peace and His love. Then, I know, I will be able to accept with peace whatever it is that may come my way. Perhaps next time, I will once again bring a notebook and a pen, and remember what it is to share my ordinary and extraordinary burdens and joys with my God. And then to put the pen down, be still, and remember what it is to listen and to soak in His love for me.


Success! You're on the list.

Purchase Lorelei’s Books Here:

Son Rise Morning Show Interview!

This Catholic Family had the privilege to participate in an interview with the Son Rise Morning Show about our recent article on Why I Pray To Saints.

It was a pleasure to be interviewed for the show, and here’s a link to the podcast. This Catholic Family’s interview takes place at 78:30.

Son Rise Morning Show Podcast


Success! You're on the list.

Purchase Lorelei’s Books Here:

Why I Pray To Saints

Praying to Saints is one of those big dividing lines between the Catholic and Protestant worlds. I was very against it as a Protestant. But what I found as I first began to explore the Catholic faith, is a lot of the confusion stems from different definitions of the same word, and an answer that can be found in Scripture about whether or not those in heaven can hear us at all.

The Meaning of The Word

‘Prayer’ is the word a Protestant uses when they talk to God. There is a connotation of worship when a Protestant uses the word ‘prayer’. This is why, as a Protestant myself, I firmly believed prayer was something reserved for our communication to God alone. I certainly didn’t want to worship anyone other than God, and therefore I wouldn’t be found praying to Saints or to anyone else in heaven.

When a Catholic uses the word ‘prayer,’ and are talking about prayer to God, then yes, we mean the same exact thing.

But I think the misunderstanding stems from a second use of that very same word. Because when a Catholic is “Praying to a Saint,” he or she is asking for someone in heaven to pray for us, just as we would ask a friend at church to pray for us. We are not worshipping Saints, or attributing anything divine to them. But, since they are already in heaven and are without the distractions of this life, Saints are actually great people to intercede on our behalf. Yes, we should and do pray directly to God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit. We begin and end all our prayers addressing the Trinity. But, just as we ask our friends on earth to pray for us, so, too, do we ask our friends in heaven.

Can They Hear Us?

This was another big one for me. Okay, sure, if we define Praying to Saints as simply asking for their prayer on our behalf, it isn’t such an odd practice. But, all that is a moot point if those in heaven can’t hear us.

A big scripture for me that addressed this issue was Revelation 5:8.

“Each of the elders held a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the holy ones.”

This verse makes it at least clear that those in heaven are aware of our requests to God, as they are holding up the bowls. Whether or not we ask the Saints specifically, I found it inarguable that they know our prayer requests, and also play an active role in presenting them to God. By offering the bowls up, they are in fact interceding for people on earth.

This is not to mention that those throughout all of Early Church history found it acceptable, and good, even, to ask for the intercession of the Saints in heaven. I found myself time and time again on my own personal journey, assenting the Early Church knew what it was doing.

Because of My Weakness

Another reason I pray to Saints is because of my own weakness.

I have three little kids running around at home. I’m often busy, and sometimes overwhelmed. It is really difficult for my brain to simmer down.

But I know the Saints are there. They don’t have those burdens. They can fervently intercede for me while I’m changing the baby, or while I’m at the grocery store, or tending to a scraped knee. I can pray then, too. But I fully admit I am weak in the area of praying without ceasing. All to often, I’m consumed by the task at hand and I simply don’t remember. It is a discipline I know I need to improve. The Saints, I hope, intercede for me on that issue as well. But, in the meantime, I know they are there, and the prayers of the faithful are powerful prayers indeed. I know I am in good hands.


There are many Catholic things I never thought I’d do. I’ll share more on that another time. Praying to the Saints is definitely one of them. But I am so thankful now for the souls in heaven that can intercede for me in my weakness.

I talk to St. Anthony when something is lost. I talk to St. Teresa of Calcutta about social justice issues. I talk to Mary, our Lord’s Mother, about being a mom, and raising kids. And I talk to Jesus about all that stuff too. Because by being Catholic, it isn’t always either or. This is another example of the very awesome Catholic “Both And.”

Just another of the many things I am thankful for as a convert to The Church.


Praying to Saints

Intercession of the Saints

Success! You're on the list.

Purchase Lorelei’s Books Here:

Finding A New Mother In Mary

Before I was Catholic, I focused on Mary during the holiday season. I mostly thought about her, pregnant and heavy laden, making the long journey for the census just before her baby was to be born. Tired, searching for a place to rest. Giving birth in a dirty, humble place. Holding the infant Jesus in a night where shepherds and angels and the light of a star paid Him heed. I had the honor of being in late stage pregnancy twice during the Advent season. I was very comfortable thinking about Mary then.

But I didn’t think about her much otherwise. Thoughts about Mary were safe during Advent and Christmas. But, like the tree and decorations we put up in our home, my thoughts of Mary, too, were boxed up and put away at the end of the season, until the following year. Mary belonged in a nativity scene, not in my life.

A Growing Admiration

All of that necessarily changes when one is on a journey to the Catholic Church. Mary plays such a key role in our salvation story, and Catholics aren’t afraid to acknowledge it. I know, based on the Bible and the teaching of The Church, that Mary is in heaven, and prays for us. I also know that Jesus listens carefully to what his mother requests of Him. Her role as the New Eve, the Ark of the New Covenant, her Immaculate Conception, her lifelong obedience and holiness, also are things I worked through as I prepared for Confirmation.


It became easy to realize there was much more to Mary than what I had previously thought. It became easy to be thankful for how precious a role God gave Mary, from the moment of her own conception. It became easy to admire her.

But, as I am learning, admiring someone is not the same thing as being in a relationship.

Baby Steps

As a teen, spending time with my mother wasn’t as high on the priority list, though that has long since changed. But in some ways, I think I still relate to Mary in that way. I know she loves me and is there for me, but I don’t often make time with her a priority. Some of the Rosary’s I’ve prayed have ended up being the most powerfrul prayers of my life, prayers that were clearly answered, and graces that were abundantly given.

So why don’t I do it more?

Perhaps it’s some tendency leftover from my Protestant days. The Rosary isn’t often one of the first prayers I go to, and even though it doesn’t take incredibly long, I often struggle at the time commitment a Rosary takes. I have been praying Hail Mary’s more often in my day to day life, which I think is a good baby step. But it feels too tiny sometimes, when I know the beautiful graces given to me through Mary on the occassions I have spent time intentionally turning to her.

But I also know Mary has a lot to offer me if I would not only spend time talking to her, but also listening.

I have so many wonderful mother figures in my life. There’s my mom, who has been with me since the beginning. I also have a step-mom, and a mother-in-law, as well as many other women who have been influential in my life.

But as much as these women have allowed me to talk and share my heart with them, I find I often learn the most when I listen to the wisdom they have to give me. And Mary has so very, very much wisdom to offer. Through her example in Scripture, through her presence in the ways she has appeared to many throughout history, offering Truth and encouragement and building our faith as a Church. This weekend, we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of Fatima, and that is just one of many examples of her intervention in our world. And I’m sure she would speak to my own heart, if I only would quiet myself and listen.

Many Mothers

I think a person has room for many mothers. Women who love, guide, and shape us. Who intercede for us. Who listen to us. Who offer us comfort. And I firmly believe Mary should be at the top of the list of Mothers in our lives.

On this Mother’s Day, it is my prayer that as I celebrate the earthly mothers in my life, I would also move closer to embracing my heavenly Mother, Mary. That I would allow her guidance and wisdom more and more into my own daily existence. That I would not take the blessing of having a heavenly Mother for granted. And that I would look to emulate her, and ask for her intercession to become even a small portion of the woman and mother she was to Jesus and is to The Church. For God’s grace to emulate her in holiness. And to know she is there for me, loving me, and waiting for me to spend some time.


We Want to Know: What is your relationship with Mary like? How do you relate to her as a Mother?

P.S. If you found this post interesting, and would like to read more on This Catholic Family… hit up that follow button on the top left of our page, or follow us on Facebook. We’d love to have you back again!


Success! You're on the list.

Purchase Lorelei’s Books Here:

Empty Me… Fill Me

There’s a Christian song I really like called “Lead Me To The Cross.” In one line the singer asks God to “Rid me of myself.” The song and that lyric in particular have always resonated with me.

As I think about the lives of the Saints- those people who followed God to the extreme, it was always the same. Their lives became not about what they wanted for themselves, but about accepting what God had for them. About God giving them everything they want, because they want everything He gives (St. Therese of Lisieux).

Let it be known that I have quite the distance to travel to reach Sainthood. Still, I find more and more, that lately, my prayer has been that I would be emptied of all the things that are me-focused… and that God would grow in me the Grace to be other-focused, and Him-focused.

I am praying to be emptied of myself.

To be emptied of pride. Pride that is so sure my own way is the best. That I can do things better than others.

To be emptied of distractedness. The need to escape the present.

To be emptied of bitterness. The idea that holding onto the pain others have caused me is somehow my right.

To be emptied of impatience. A hurriedness that forgets to slow down and see the beauty of the world that is around me.

To be be emptied of selfishness. That desires my own pleasure above that which is good for those I love.

This…. and so much more. I desire to be emptied. But, not only emptied. For if I were emptied of these things and not filled with something else I would only be a useless vessel, void of substance. I want to be emptied, yes. But not only emptied. I also want to be filled.

Both Jesus and Mary are described in the Bible as “Full of Grace,” and only a few others that use similar terminology to describe them in essence, as “Full of the Holy Spirit.” I want to be emptied. But I want to be filled with the Grace that allows me to live my life more in union with my Savior. This is not something I can accomplish of my own doing. This is something that God can do inside of me, should I turn toward Him and allow Him to work in me.

I am praying to be filled with Grace.

Fill me with the Grace to be humble. The ability to acknowledge others above myself. And to defer my own preference to the benefit of those I encounter.

Fill me with the Grace to be present. To be truly, and fully, where I am. Right then. And right there. Mind, body and soul.

Fill me with the Grace to forgive. To extend the Grace you have given me to those who have wronged me. And to fill me with the Grace that will help me to be uneasily offended by others.

Fill me with the Grace to be patient. Patience when my children move slower than I would. Patience when my husband sees and does things differently than I would. Patience to realize that there is value in these things. That my way is not always the best.

Fill me with the Grace to be selfless. That I would not fight so much for my own rights, as to defend the rights of others. That I would be content to be the least, and rejoice with others as they are more than I. To be content and seeking out only that which God has called me to do.

Fill me with the Grace to to develop all of these things. That my life might more resemble that of your Son, Jesus. And your mother, Mary. And all the other Saints on earth and in heaven who have emptied themselves, and allowed You to fill them with the traits that help their lives look radically, and totally like Jesus, in each and every way.


Success! You're on the list.

Purchase Lorelei’s Books Here:

A Valentines Note From The Savaryns

Hello Readers,

Happy Valentines Day!

Now that we are approaching 10 years of marriage, we are clearly marriage experts. Haha.

Actually, we know very acutely that we are not. However, we do know a thing or two more than we did when we started dating nearly a dozen years ago.

And tonight, we reflected on the most romantic thing we have done recently for each other.

JP said the most romantic thing I have done recently for him was when I recently gave him a back massage. He knows physical affection is not one of my natural love languages, and therefore when I offer a back massage, he knows I am doing it for no other reason than I remembered it is relaxing for him, and because I love him.

The most romantic thing JP has done for me recently has been to explicitly encourage me to pursue a dream of mine. Something that requires me to set time aside. He asks me every few days if I have been able to make any progress, and he encourages me to structure my time to make it a priority. Knowing that he loves me enough to urge me forward with this goal means the world.

I think one of the things we’ve discovered in our time together is that real, abiding love is often found in the small gestures like the ones above, not exclusively in the grand ones. A big mega date can be awesome and fun and all kinds of other good things. But, unlike what some dating reality shows might lead us to believe, real love, and real relationships aren’t built in the big moments. They are built in the small.

And, unexpectedly, many times the small actions can be harder to pull off than the grand ones. Because you have to remember, in the day in day out ordinary moments of life to choose to love your spouse in a way that speaks to them. You have to choose to remember to do something to build up your spouse, especially when you get nothing out of it for yourself, simply because you love them. In the busyness of life, the remembering can be hard. But when we are intentional with each other, when I remember to give JP a big hug when he gets home so he can feel loved, and when JP remembers to keep the kitchen counter clean on the weekends so I can relax, when we love each other in the small ways, we both move through our days, whatever challenges may come, already built up by the love we have for each other. And that love can help sustain us.

Starting this Valentines Day, we plan to add one small thing to our daily routine. Something that we can do with and for each other, in the presence of our children, so that we may also set an intentional example for them of our marital love for each other in a small yet significant way. Our goal is to add this short, simple prayer to our family prayers at the end of the evenings. To hold hands with each other in the presence of our children and pray:

Lord, help us to remember when we first met and the strong love that grew between us.

To work that love into practical things so that nothing can divide us.

We ask for words both kind and loving and hearts always ready to ask for forgiveness as well as to forgive.

Dear Lord, we put our marriage into Your hands.


If you are married, with or without kids, we challenge you to take the time to pray this prayer with your spouse on a daily basis along with us this year. Simply by taking a moment to ask God to be present in our love for each other, this one small prayer might just end up being that which helps us greatly along the path of learning to donate our selves for the benefit of our husband/wife, and thus to love them better.

-JP and Lorelei

Success! You're on the list.

Purchase Lorelei’s Books Here: