Prayer is one of the best things you can do for your grandchildren. Sometimes prayer is the only thing you can do.
Prayer calms our fears, displaces worry, and relieves stress. Prayer changes our outlook on whatever problems or challenges our grandchildren might be facing.
Here’s one example: a priest suggested to a woman named Colette Byrne that, instead of worrying about her grandchildren, she pray to Jesus under his title as the Infant of Prague, a powerful Catholic devotion that has resulted in many graces and answered prayers for hundreds of years. Colette found a statue of the Infant and an information booklet that included a novena. She began praying an ongoing daily novena to the Infant for her grandchildren.
Several months later, Colette received a frantic telephone call, saying her nine-month-old grandson had been rushed to the hospital after being found floating in a swimming pool. Colette began praying with even greater intensity to the Infant of Prague. Her prayers were answered. “God is so good!” she recalls. “My grandson has no permanent damage, and today he is thriving.”
In addition to praying a daily novena, Colette keeps a picture of her seven grandchildren on the windowsill above her kitchen sink. “I make the Sign of the Cross on their pictures and ask God to bless them as I do dishes or prepare meals,” she says. “Pictures are a good reminder to pray.”
Kim Doyle started a grandparent group in her parish that includes prayer. “We always end our meeting by praying for our grandchildren,” she explains. “When you have others praying with you for your intentions, it is so powerful. Then we come back and share the changes for the positive that have happened as results of our prayers.”
Offering It Up
Prayer also gives us the opportunity to unite whatever pain we may experience with the suffering of Jesus and offer it up for our grandchildren.
Joni Seith suffers from Ehlers-Danlos, a genetic connective tissue disease that can be quite painful. “When I have a bad episode, I offer it up for my son and my grandbaby, who both have the same disease,” she explains. “I don’t let any of my suffering go to waste. Knowing that it is going to them is where I find my joy.”
Turning to Our Lady
When Sadie Fletcher’s grandchildren were born, she gave each one of them to Our Lady. “I asked her to take care of them,” she recalls. “They are her children. She is in charge. There might be something they are doing that I am worried about, but I know Our Lady will take care of it. There’s nothing I can do, but there isn’t anything that she can’t do.”
Many grandparents pray the Rosary for their grandchildren. Amanda Lauer remembers praying the Rosary in church for her daughter and daughter-in-law who were expecting babies two weeks apart. She had concerns because of some previous pregnancy issues. Amanda was looking directly at the statue of Our Lady as she prayed.
“When we got to the part in the prayer ‘Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus,’ I thought of my daughter and daughter-in-law,” Amanda explains. “At that very moment, Mary looked right at me, and she said, ‘Everything will turn out fine.’ I was stunned. I looked at the other ladies to see what their reaction was, but none of the other women seemed to have heard it. After the Rosary, I lit a candle and asked Mary for her intercession on our behalf. I took one last look at her as I left church that day and thanked her for praying for us.”
Amanda’s grandson and granddaughter were both born healthy. “Ever since that time, when concerns come up in my life and our family’s life, I repeat the words the Blessed Mother said to me in church that day, ‘Everything will turn out fine.’ Having that constant reminder and reassurance has been such a calming factor in my life.”
There are times in our lives when prayer is difficult. We may feel distracted or disconnected. One of the best techniques when prayer seems impossible is to turn your breathing into a prayer. You imagine that you are breathing in God’s love as you inhale, then breathing out any worry or fear that you might feel. You can breathe in God’s love and breathe out anger or frustration. You can breathe in God’s love and imagine that love flowing through you. The more you practice this simple prayer, the easier it is to invite God’s calming presence into your life.
Just a Few Minutes
“Find a few minutes each day,” urges Pope Francis, “to come together before the living God, to tell him our worries, to ask for the needs of our family, to pray for someone experiencing difficulty, to ask for help in showing love, to give thanks for life and for its blessings, and to ask Our Lady to protect us beneath her maternal mantle. With a few simple words, this moment of prayer can do immense good for our families” (Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia, 318).
Come to our kind and loving Lord daily and ask for his guidance and protection for our grandchildren. Ask the Lord to shower them with his love, keep them safe from all harm, and help them to grow in faith and holiness. Be sure to let the grandchildren know you are praying for them, and share God’s answers to your prayers with them!
This is a selection from The Catholic Grandparents Handbook: Creative Ways to Show Love, Share Faith, and Have Fun by Lorene Hanley Duquin (The Word Among Us Press, 2018). Available at wau.org/books.