When Jesus entered the temple precincts to clear out the moneylenders, He quotes Isaiah 56: “It is written: ‘My house shall be a house of prayer’” (Matthew 21:13). It wasn’t that Jesus was objecting to the presence of commerce in the Temple area—the day-to-day business of life—but that this had, in the minds of many, eclipsed the ultimate purpose of the Temple, which is to be spiritually recollected before God. The people had forgotten why they were there and who they were as God’s people.
Family life in the modern world is busy. As my wife often laments, “It’s not that any of the things we have to do aren’t good…it’s that there are too many of them.” Of late, I find myself praying for the grace to focus on essentials—family prayer, common meals, chores, relaxation together, etc. And why? It’s because the frantic chaos of modern family life inspires in me a desire to cleanse MY temple, cords and all.
It is normal that homeschooling or homework with the children is interrupted every minute. My kids have the attention span of a barnacle. The memory of a simple directive is lost on my little (and big) busy bodies within seconds. A simple game of tag can destroy the house in a few moments. Throughout, I wonder, What’s the point of all this?
God: the Center Point of All Activity
Well, there is a point. All of this “life” in my home is an abundant blessing of God. But this is why the essentials cannot be overcrowded by the commerce of the day—that perpetual treadmill of incessant activity and perpetual motion. I find it necessary to establish in my household certain fixed points of the day when we simply stop to be spiritually recollected. Those times are morning and evening prayer. Sometimes it requires shouts, overturned tables, and a cord of whips, but we do it!
The years of raising children will be comprised of a million things that will pass out of memory, but the one thing I want my children never to forget is the blessings of God in their lives. I remember family prayers in my home growing up. At 7:00 a.m., we (all six of us) were half asleep…Dad was still in his pj’s, Mom a portrait of proper comportment in her bathrobe. We prayed together over many years—daily—and it formed me to be a prayerful soul, grateful to God for His many blessings, even while those moments of spiritual recollection were seldom perfectly pious or serene.
“It is written: ‘My house shall be a house of prayer.’” The formation of our children requires that our homes be places of spiritual recollection, houses of prayer. It’s the only way we will bear in mind the daily blessings of our God. And it is, undoubtedly, the most essential way we evangelize our children.
Is God at the center of my family’s everyday life?
What are some ways I can invite God into our home more?