Create Your Own Amazing Home Prayer Space with These Tips
When I was a kid, our family never had a specific area of our home to gather together for prayer and reflection. We had religious pictures, statues, and crucifixes peppered throughout the house, but never a place where one could retreat into his inner sanctuary for some quiet time with God.
In our early years of marriage, Ben and I toyed with the idea of creating a prayer space, but it never materialized. We had children, and “things” piled up in the room we imagined as our clutter-free zone set aside for reading scripture and lighting the candles on the Advent wreath.
Before we moved to our newish home in 2017, Ben and I committed to designating a portion of our home to prayer. It would be, for us, where we’d come together as a family – no matter what kind of hectic day we’d had – to give God thanks, to calm our noisy thoughts, and to pray together for what was important to us.
Here are some ways that concept became a reality for us. I share them with you, because I believe that sacred space in our humble abodes is so vital to our spiritual wellbeing. In this modern era, we are fighting against the culture that is constantly dividing families and creating facades through technology for us to hide behind. It’s rare for children and parents to actually sit down in one room – at the same time – to even share a meal these days.
Yet empirical research indicates that families who eat at least one meal per day together three times a week or more have children who are less promiscuous, achieve higher academic scores, and make fewer destructive decisions. They’re also more likely to engage in honest conversation about their lives than the families who don’t do this.
Given this reality, why not create a holy ambiance in the home, too? This could be your refuge – an area where you can sit, rest, collect your thoughts, pour your heart out to Jesus, and set aside time to remember what is important. I believe prayer space in the home brings immense consolation, comfort, and strength to families who are in dire need of supernatural assistance, now more than ever before.
Collect Your Religious Items
These can be icons, framed pictures, crucifixes, statues, holy water, relics, rosaries, etc. You’ll want to assess what you already have and what you’d like to add. This will depend largely on the amount of space you can actually use for your prayer corner. We knew we had plenty of statues, icons, and framed images, but we wanted to add a holy water font and bookcases where we could include tomes that would enrich our souls in a deeper way.
You might want to consider the spiritual and developmental needs of your children, too. For example, our oldest daughter, Felicity, has particular books on the saints and prayer books she likes to access on her own time. We keep those in a handy and visible location in our prayer room. Sarah, our middle child, likes different rosaries, so we have a large ceramic bowl filled with rosaries of different textures and colors that she can use. Finally, Veronica is just past one year old, and she has board books about the saints, Our Lady, and the Bible on a very low shelf of our bookcase that she can easily access.
Gathering what you will include is an important first step in making your idea come to fruition.
Decide What Section of Your Home to Use
If your home is already filled to the brim, you’ll probably have to make a draft on paper of slightly rearranging furniture and décor. In order to make this a sacred space you’ll actually use, it’s best to include comfortable seating, a table with lighting, and a place where you can put the books you use on a regular basis (e.g., Bible, liturgical companion, devotional) and rosaries for easy access.
This was simple for my family, because we chose to create a prayer space as soon as we moved into our new home last year. We didn’t have to redecorate or eliminate anything, because we were working with a blank canvas. For most people, however, this isn’t going to be the case. That’s why it’s important to sit down as a family and draw up a blueprint after you peruse the house for your ideal spot.
Make the Creation a Family Event
If you have children, allow them to participate on the actual day you begin rearranging your sacred prayer space. Their involvement will give them ownership and a sense of responsibility, thus encouraging them to use the area for their own private devotions.
My oldest daughter, Felicity, colored a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary during first grade, and I decided to tape them on the wall in our prayer space. Throughout the year, she and Sarah make crafts specific to the liturgical seasons, and we always place them near our prayer space. These include the Advent wreath and candles, Paschal candle for Easter, and a whole host of other crafts (images of Jesus on the boat with his disciples, butterflies for resurrection, etc.).
Switching out handmade, seasonal décor in your prayer space will keep it interesting and lively for your youngsters, so that they’re more likely to use the room outside of formal family prayer time. Encourage them to “talk to Jesus” if they are hurt, sad, or upset. We suggest this to our girls and direct them to the image of the Sacred Heart when they are struggling with something.
Invite a Priest to Bless Your Home
This is really a beautiful way to consecrate your entire dwelling space to the Lord. When we first moved, our pastor’s associate priest came over for dinner one evening and blessed our home afterward. We gathered in our prayer space and did an enthronement to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, thus dedicating not only this area of the house, but also our family, to Jesus’ loving care.
A house blessing can include minor prayers of exorcism, too, if you prefer. We opted for this, because we purchased the home and didn’t know its exact history. The blessing reminds you that this place is sacrosanct, not just “another room” in an ordinary home.
One thing my husband and I like to do is pray for everyone who enters the threshold of our home. We ask the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary to be with each person in a special way, and sometimes incredibly miraculous things happen! Once, I was dreading a difficult conversation with a family member, and I prayed to the Sacred Heart that morning. Within a couple of hours, my family member stopped by, and we ended up having a very healing conversation – in our prayer room in front of the Sacred Heart of Jesus!
Use Your Space Every Day
The point in creating a holy, blessed area of your home is, of course, to actually use it. Most of us are motivated by visual cues, because they shape our imaginations. If your home reflects your faith, you will find yourself stopping in front of your favorite statue or icon, even if briefly.
Most families find it difficult to pray together on a regular basis. We were once among them. If this is you, don’t give up. Start small. Ben and I committed to starting with the liturgical seasons of Advent and Lent to get us in the habit of coming together at a certain time of day to pray as a family. We usually read from Scripture or a brief daily meditation.
When we entered the Christmas and Easter seasons, we discovered that family prayer was, indeed, a habit, and we expanded it. Every other day we’d pray a Divine Mercy chaplet together. Eventually, we inched up to a couple of decades of the Rosary, and ultimately, a full rosary.
But my favorite part of family prayer is this: when our little girls approach the images of Jesus and Mary to share about their day. They are candid and sometimes funny, but always insightful. It’s forming their consciences to examine the good and bad and to amend the rough patches. Frequently, one or both of our older girls will also ask a question related to theology after we pray together, and it’s a very natural way for us to incorporate catechesis in a way that reaches their heart.
Remember that you are the domestic Church. Creating a sacred space in your home is a way to continue the call of your baptism and to heed the exhortation we hear at the end of the Mass: “Go forth, the Mass has ended.”