Online Book Club Week 9: Pranking and Praying

The Prayer List by Jane Knuth - online book club

Editor’s note: Jump into our online book club! We’re reading Jane Knuth’s The Prayer List…and Other True Stories of How Families Pray. This week we focus on chapters 25–27. Learn more about the book club here.

Even though I wrote a book about family prayer, I am not under the illusion that praying together with our loved ones is effortless. It’s not. Sure, we can say rote, memorized prayers at the table and no one gets uneasy, but actually talking directly to God together with family members is another level of intimacy. It’s a sharing from soul to soul.

In chapter 26, my parish priest, Fr. Mike, tells the story of praying with his older brother—one of two times in his life that they prayed alone together.

Fr. Mike writes: “God’s dream for us is that we may be ‘successful’ in the most human venture: family love…Moments when there’s a breakthrough from soul to soul, heart to heart: generosity, tenderness, guard down, no foolin’, no pranking for now.”

I love that line: “no pranking for now.” It goes to the part of family life that we don’t admit. We are so comfortable with each other that we can prank, but that leaves us feeling vulnerable when we pray.

The Prayer List Discussion Questions

  1. It was comforting to me that even a priest can struggle with family prayer. Fr. Mike says that God’s dream for us is that we are successful at family love. This sounds so simple, yet it’s not always so simple. Is there someone in your family with whom you struggle to pray?
  2. In chapter 27, Nancy can’t pray with words because of her intense grief. She prays instead by holding her granddaughter and through tears. Have you ever prayed without words? How?

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About Jane Knuth 10 Articles
Jane Knuth is a longtime volunteer in the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Kalamazoo, Michigan. In 2011, Jane’s first book, Thrift Store Saints, was awarded first place from the Catholic Press Association for Popular Presentation of the Catholic Faith. Her latest book is The Prayer List. She also writes a monthly column for The Good News, the newspaper of the Diocese of Kalamazoo.
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