Just like many other household and family activity (mealtimes, chores, communication, etc.), prayer at home deserves attention and discussion—and maybe even more than other aspects of our home lives! Perhaps we’ve assumed that prayer is just a thing that us Muslims do and that it should sprout up naturally and in an agreeable manner within our homes, but that may not the case. Creating a family prayer plan can provide structure to help a family achieve its prayer-related goals, mitigate conflict, maintain a peaceful home life, and build love and connection within a family.
The First Goal: Praying all Prayers
Can you all agree that everyone in the family will do their best to pray all five prayers every day on time? Since that’s the core of a daily prayer regiment required as a religious obligation, this goal is essential.
Perhaps one individual in the family needs support in praying regularly, whether it is through learning or habit-building. This meeting could be an opportunity for the individual and the family to collaboratively work together to think of solutions in a positive way to help that person improve their daily prayer habits.
A mistake that some families make is shaming or micromanaging individuals who have a lesser commitment to praying regularly or struggle more with praying regularly. This conversation is not an opportunity for angry outbursts, accusations, humiliating asides, or criticism of the people who may be struggling. Yes, we must do all that we can to encourage our family members to establish regular prayer in their lives, but we cannot force them to–especially as they become older and more independent. I agree, it is heartbreaking to see a family member neglect their prayers and it can be emotionally exhausting because of our deep love and concern for them. The naseeha we give to others is always a balancing act between a soft and intense approach and the last thing that any family would want is to push one of their own away from prayer because of the ways by which they tried to get that person to pray. If this step alone is causing a lot of confusion and conflict, perhaps it is best to seek help from a local trusted religious figure or a family counselor.
Another issue to consider carefully is whether keeping track of who has prayed which prayers is a positive and age-appropriate necessity in your family. For younger children, having a prayer chart or verbally asking them to pray or confirm that they have already prayed are good tools to encourage regular prayer habits. However, there should be a point when elders or parents stop asking children who are developmentally maturing (or others in the family who are capable adults) if they have prayed or not. There is a difference between the occasional reminder and the prayer police—and living with the prayer police can be supremely frustrating. Perhaps one person in the family loves being reminded to pray and another person hates it—well, now that you’ve discussed it as a family, you know!
The Second Goal: Praying Together as a Family
After the first goal is agreed upon, it’s important to figure out how the family will routinely pray together within the home. Praying as a family is a regular opportunity to connect as a family at a spiritual level and an easy way to fulfill more daily obligatory prayers in congregation, which has varying degrees of importance to different Islamic scholars and schools of thought. Additionally, it may prove itself to be a useful tool for individuals to better manage praying on time and fulfilling all prayer requirements on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s just easier to pray with others, right?
For your family’s prayer plan, it is important to plan out the logistics of congregational prayer specifically for your family and in your home. Starting with a small, realistic goal for your family is ideal. Depending on your particular circumstances, you may only be able to pray congregationally once a week or perhaps up to all five prayers every day. Find something that will work for your family and start there. Make sure to loop everyone in on what the actual family prayer plan is, to ensure the plan is implemented properly and to avoid frustration. You can check out the suggested steps for devising your family’s prayer plan at the end of this article for concrete ways to get started.
A word of caution: congregational family prayers should not feel like a burden or be a source of regular family conflict. Hopefully the family prayer plan will help keep resentment and conflict out of the prayer space. Expect hiccups and work through any challenges that may come up when creating and implementing your family’s prayer plan, whether it’s from relationship dynamics, differences in Islamic practice, trouble with clear communication, etc.
The Third Goal: Bonding as a Family
The last thing to consider is bonding as a family through quality family time now that there’s an intentional prayer atmosphere being established within the home. Spending time together as a family is important, and spiritual family time is just one aspect of staying connected as a family that a family prayer plan can address.
As far as bonding at a spiritual level beyond the obligatory prayer, perhaps family members take turns reading a hadeeth out of a book for one congregational prayer during the week or one family member makes a communal dua after a certain prayer every day (if that’s your thing). Other bonding and growth experiences can be related to keeping up with chores/managing the household or hanging out and having fun. Maybe an activity unrelated to prayer can be planned in conjunction with prayer time, such as, setting up for dinner together after Maghrib every day or something more special once a week, like going to the park or buying a treat from the store after praying Asr together at the masjid on Saturdays, or having board game night after Maghrib on Fridays. The possibilities are endless!
I hope this encourages families to create a family prayer plan of their own, inshaAllah. Of course, we all have different ideas of what a plan is and has room for, so create your plan to fit your family’s needs and culture. Once you have a family prayer plan in place, don’t forget to tweak it to work out the kinks and change it up throughout the year as prayer times and circumstances change within the family. Check out suggested steps to consider when creating your family’s prayer plan below!
Steps for Creating Your Family Prayer Plan
- Family Meeting Style: Decide what type of family meeting or discussion will be appropriate for creating your family prayer plan. Is this a top-down or collaborative decision, or somewhere in between?
- Schedule Compilation: Taking the family’s schedule and all of its individuals’ schedules into consideration, figure out what prayers are going to be feasible to pray congregationally within the home. You will have to revisit this task as prayer times and various demands on schedules change throughout the year.
- Logistics for Congregational Prayer: Intentionally work through logistics of prayer in the home to optimize the congregational prayer experience within the home. You may consider designing a prayer space in your home, set up/clean up protocols, call to prayer system, a prayer time board that is displayed in a high traffic space (you can make your own or buy one from my Etsy shop!), and other aspects that will make congregational prayer in the home smooth and mindful for your family.
- Considering Special Circumstances: Every family will have different circumstances they may have to work through. What are the expectations for menstruating women in the family? Are there individuals who follow different schools of thought and does this impact the way prayers are planned or conducted? Making accommodations for these special circumstances in advance or as they come up will help the family prayer experience stay conflict-free.
Source: Muslim Matters