Book Review: Little Prayers for Ordinary Days

Little Prayers for Ordinary Days – Katy Bowser Hutson, Flo Paris Oakes, and Tish Harrison Warren (IVP Kids, 2022)

I received an Advance Readers’ Copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. All opinions are my own. Publication date: May 31st, 2022

In the past year I have been leaning into my liturgical roots. Peter and I have watched several services online from the Anglican church in Vancouver that I grew up attending. I’ve followed the readings of the church calendar, and read along with a book of prayers called Every Moment Holy that offers prayers for ordinary situations. This new picture book offers something similar except that it is geared for young children.

Liturgy is a form of worship. It is structured and oft-repeated. In the Anglican Church tradition that I’m most familiar with, the liturgy is laid out for the entire year, following a traditional church calendar, and centred around celebrations like Easter or Christmas. Anglicans follow The Book of Common Prayer, which offers prayers for those who are sick, for weddings, or for the Sunday after Pentecost. The idea of liturgy is that there is a prayer and Bible reading for just about every occasion. These prayers are scripturally and historically based so while they were written long ago by a council of people, they are also beautiful and moving and can bring the worshipper closer to God. A book like Every Moment Holy offers prayers for a modern world and for the mundane moments that more traditional liturgy might not address – like changing a diaper or waiting in traffic.

Little Prayers for Ordinary Days offers this same concept for children. There are prayers of thanks for a wonderful days, prayers for the start of the school day, for listening to music, or trying something new. These prayers cover a lot of basic and familiar situations for children of all backgrounds. They are simple and short, using easy language for kids to understand and speak for themselves.

Personally, I appreciate liturgy and its traditions more now as an adult than I did as a child or teenager. While I don’t think any of it is necessary and liturgy alone doesn’t bring me closer to God, I enjoy using some of these traditions now in my own devotions because it can give me a starting place. It can help to centre what I want to focus on in my prayers. It is a reminder that God is present in the mundane, the daily, the extraordinary. I think a book like this could do the same for a young child and for parents who want to help their kids learn how to pray on their own.

As I read Little Prayers for Ordinary Days I did wonder just what age this book is aimed at. The prayers seemed simplistic enough that they seemed geared for pretty young children. (Mine are 4 and 6 and those would be good ages for this book.) At the same time, those younger kids are not generally reading on their own (mine aren’t) and so I felt unsure how the book was intended to be used. Am I to sit down and pray these prayers out loud in the first person voice they are written in? I certainly could but I know I personally would find that slightly artificial. My reading of it probably wasn’t aided by the fact that I had an e-copy, meaning I was reading it on a device. That makes it a lot less organic to sit down and flip through with my kids. I think a hardcopy of this one would be much more beneficial and enable them to choose some of their own prayers.

Teaching your children to pray can be a tricky task. We pray with and for and in the presence of our girls. We ask them if they want to pray and the answer is usually, “No.” We never push it or force them to. When I ask them if I can pray for them, the answer is usually, “Yes,” and they often have contributions that they want us to pray for. I always want prayer to be something they want to do and enjoy, not something forced onto them but something they do because they understand and desire to have a relationship with God. A book like this could be a useful item in guiding them along that path and perhaps one day they will appreciate prayer and liturgy the way I have come to.

4 thoughts on “Book Review: Little Prayers for Ordinary Days”

  1. I remember Anne Shirley asking Marilla what to pray for, and Marilla seems shocked that a person must be instructed in prayer. And then of course Anne prays for beautiful auburn hair.

    1. Hahaha! Oh yes! Traditional prayers for children are often very heavily about being good or not dying so it’s nice that these are more focused on gratitude for the world around us or taking a moment to pause when you’re upset or scared. Good habits for kids to develop, I think, even if they don’t pray.

    1. You’re welcome! After reading your comment I went and double checked my definition and I guess different denominations might define it slightly differently but this is what I’m used to.

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