This reflection was originally posted on myfaithtogo.org , an offering from the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego. Click here to learn more.
Family rituals play an important part in positive childhood development because they “help identify the individual and… family and provide something constant, stable, and secure in a confusing world” (Shriner, 2007).
This family bedtime reflection is based on the Ignatian Examen, a prayer practice developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola in the 16th century, where one reflects on God’s presence throughout the day that has passed. You may want to adopt this practice as a family ritual of your own, or simply try it out just this week, to explore where God is moving in your family’s life.
A Children’s Examen
During your bedtime routine, invite your children into a time of reflection about their day, maybe by saying, “Did you know that God really wants to know what happened in your day today, and that God is always listening whenever you need to tell God something?” Then continue with these questions:
- What are some things that happened today that you want to tell God about?
- What is one happy thing that happened today?
- What is one sad thing that happened today?
- Did you see God or feel God with you when those things were happening? Where did you see or feel God when those things happened today?
Read to your children this week’s scripture selection, then ask the questions that follows.
Jesus and his disciples found a place to be by themselves on the mountain for a bit. A huge crowd followed them because they had seen Jesus heal the sick. When Jesus saw the people coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where are we going to get bread for these people to eat?” Jesus already had a plan in mind, but he wanted to hear what Philip would say. Philip said, “Six months’ pay wouldn’t buy enough bread for each of them to get a bite of bread.” Then Andrew said, “Here’s a boy who has five barley loaves and two fish. But that certainly won’t feed all these people.” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down on the grass.” There were about five thousand people.
Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; then he did the same thing with the fish, and everyone had as much to eat as they wanted. When everyone was full, he told the disciples to clean up the leftovers, so no food would be wasted. When they got done, they had twelve baskets of leftover bread. And they started out with five loaves! When people realized what had happened, they said to each other, “This man is a prophet for sure, the one we were waiting for!”
Jesus could tell they were about to grab him and put him on their shoulders to make him king. So he snuck away and went to the mountaintop by himself.
When the sun was setting, the disciples got into a boat and started across the sea. Jesus was still on the mountain but it was dark. A storm came up while they were on the water and the sea got rough with a strong wind. They were in the middle of the lake when they saw Jesus walking toward them on the water. They were terrified. Then Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid. It’s me.” They took him into the boat and immediately the boat reached land.
- Did the story remind you of anything that happened in your day today?
- What are some things that you want to tell God that you are grateful for today?
Conclude your reflection with a prayer, which can be as simple as “than you God for our family and your presence in our lives”. Alternatively, you may read a pre-selected prayer like this one:
The days are getting longer.
Keep your Spirit in my heart and mind
during this growing season.
Be with me as I finish the school year,
participate in summer activities,
enjoy the gift of summer turning into fall.
Help me recognize your works in all that I do
and at play,
So that I can give thanks for all you provide,
even without my even asking.
-Call On Me: A Prayer Book for Young People