5 Things to Include on Your Kids’ Home Prayer Table
Do you have a prayer space for your children at home? For older children, this might look more like a Bible or rosary on their bedside table, books or images of their favorite saints in their rooms, or a family prayer area with a kneeler or chair and a few spiritual aids. But, little children (even babies!) also need a space at home to be with Jesus, whom they will come to know as their Creator!
The way we do this in our home is a prayer table. My children are almost 3 and almost 2, so please note that the ideas here are meant for small children and toddlers, specifically! Their spiritual needs grow with them, so this space would look much different for bigger children, but lots of the essentials stay the same. In our house, we have a simple table (I literally use an upside down crate) with pictures of our family's patron saints above and a shelf to the side with different items that my kids use to set their prayer table as they see fit. This prayer space is right in our basement playroom, in the midst of their other toys. I encourage them to use it whenever they feel inclined, but I don’t keep it set or even suggest times to use it. I simply keep it open and available for when they feel called to pray in their own toddler way.
If you’re interested in setting up this kind of space in your home, here are a few ideas to get started. Think of these as the essentials...but the ideas of what to include in your kids’ prayer space are endless!
1. An image of Jesus
This one seems obvious. Christ should be the focus of this space! But, there are lots of ways to include Him. A San Damiano crucifix like this one is great for children! We use this one from Rough 2 Rustic. An image of the Sacred Heart is also a wonderful addition (a less-gory one, probably!). We have a framed image close by of Christ as the Good Shepherd, which is a likeness that children usually love!
2. Mary and the saints
I encourage you to let your kids lead the way in what images or objects of Mary and the saints to include! I printed images of our family's patron saints and framed them above the prayer table. Statues or wooden saint dolls are a great way to prompt your children to pray to their favorite saints! We adore these ones from Saintly Heart. My kids like to collect prayer cards from our parish, so we have a little tray of those here too.
3. Prayer cloths in liturgical colors
Littles love to notice the color the priest is wearing at Mass, so it’s never too early to start familiarizing them with the liturgical colors! For our prayer table, I bought fabric in purple, green, red, white, and pink, cut it to size, and used iron-on hem table to finish it off (I’m no seamstress - anyone can do this!). I explain to my kids what liturgical season it is, but I don’t limit them to only use the proper color on the table. They get to set it however they’d like!
Don’t call me crazy. I know. The thought of letting your toddler be around an open flame is a stressful one. But, candles are a great way to elevate this space and show your littles that it’s an area set apart, designated for a specific purpose. Mine are too little to use them alone, obviously, so we only light the candle when I’m there to help, but they love it! They stay much longer at the table when we’ve set it up in such an inviting way. Also, grab a mini extinguisher - kids LOVE snuffing candles!
5. Items to beautify
Just like the altar at church often features flowers, stained glass windows, or saint images, the goal with a home prayer table is for it to be a beautiful space that raises your kids’ thoughts to heaven. So, include anything that allows them to make it gorgeous! We have a few flowers in vases, some icons on stands, and framed prayer cards. As they get bigger, you can even encourage them to make their own prayer cards for this space!
Bonus item: a bell!
Children like to pray together. If you include a little dinner bell, like this one, on their prayer table, it allows them to ring it and invite others to join their prayer service, if they wish. Ours got sadly manhandled, so my kids now resort to hollering “prayer service!!” around the house until someone joins in. Gotta get a new one!
When you score a lucky invite to a prayer service, let your children lead the way! Encourage them to begin with the Sign of the Cross, light a candle if they want, and then let them take the lead. Pray to the saints, ask for blessings on your loved ones, sing holy hymns, or simply think and talk about Jesus.
As a child myself, I was blessed to learn Catholicism in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atria with my own mom and godmother as my catechists. They always said that, with little children especially, their faith formation should be focused on fostering their relationships with God, rather than learning the vocabulary, dogmas, and tenets of the faith. There’s certainly a time for them to learn those things, but when they’re little, the most important thing is that they know that Jesus Christ was a historical figure, who lived and died for us and who loves them. If they open themselves up to that relationship with their Creator, the mysteries and beauties of Catholicism will unfold before them!
Having a prayer space for the children in your own domestic church is a great way to encourage your littles to pursue a relationship with Jesus, Mary, and the saints on their own terms and in their own way. That’s not to say that parental-lead prayer isn’t important! I highly encourage families to create some sort of daily prayer routine as a family. But, children (even the tiniest ones!) are able and willing to foster their love for Jesus on their own, as well, when provided the right tools! And I'm always surprised by how much they have to teach us as well.
Check out our collection of children's gift boxes, many of which include these essentials! Start your favorite kiddo off on their own little prayer space!
"Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'" ~ Matthew 19:14