Bless This House: Prayers for Families and Children
Harrison, Rita M., Anglican Theological Review
Bless This House: Prayers for Families and Children. By Gregory Wolfe and Suzanne M. Wolfe. San Francisco: Wiley, 2004. xxiii + 211 pp. $19.95 (cloth).
Bless This House is a thoughtful and impressive addition to the literature about and for family prayer. Gregory and Suzanne Wolfe have produced a work that contains theological and practical reflection on family prayer. In addition, they have compiled a collection of prayers for family use. Both the reflection and the collection are solidly rooted in a broad Christian tradition, steering clear of sectarian and denominational quirks.
The Wolfes begin with the observation that "the secret to your child's moral and spiritual development is this: your child should not simply admire goodness but should actually fall in love with goodness" (p. xi). This is a book about helping children and youth to fall in love with goodness, that is, to fall in love with God. "Parents . . . should learn to pray with and/or their children. . . . When we enter that circle [of prayer] ourselves, we forge deep spiritual and emotional bonds with our children" (p. xiii). This is a book that provides guidance for this journey within our families.
The authors begin with a chapter about the role of prayer in a child's moral, cognitive, and spiritual development. This is the "why" of family prayer. Because prayer is central to a child's development, "responsibility for nurturing the souls of our children rests squarely with parents" (p. 3). To help parents in this responsibility, the Wolfes highlight several stages of a child's developing prayer life: prayer as relationship, prayer as attention, prayer as participation, and prayer as transformation.
The second chapter of the book is a "how-to guide" for praying together as a family. Here, the authors address the topics of how to introduce prayer into a family context, how to deal with resistance, what to do with "giggles, fidgets, and prayers gone astray" (p. …