Book Review Pray With Me: “Seven Simple Ways to Pray With Your Children”, by Grace Mazza Urbanski, (2015) Ave Maria Press
Although specifically targeted at parents, Grace Mazza Urbanski’s book Pray With Me: Seven Simple Ways to Pray With Your Children is perfect for use by teachers with strong application for the classroom, or, as part of a professional development program. Told in an inviting and conversational style, Urbanski uses personal anecdotes to engage her audience with her topic, while providing practical strategies for praying with children in 7 main ways:
- Spontaneous Prayer
- Praying from Memory
- Praying with Scripture
- Praying with Song
- Praying with Silence
- Praying with Reflection
- Praying with the Apostleship of Prayer
While many of these strategies may be appropriate for those working within a Protestant setting, it is important to note that Pray With Me approaches the content through the lens of Catholicism. In this manner Urbanski has been faithful to the Catholic understanding of prayer, with her insights grounded in contemporary theology. As a Religion teacher with 15 years’ experience in the classroom, I did not find the content of this book particularly ground breaking. However, I did find its exploration of topic both thorough, thought-provoking and with an abundance of easy-to-implement strategies. I especially enjoyed her clear approach to Lexio Divinia and she makes an excellent case for children learning prayers from memory within the contemporary educational setting (which values students accessing information rather than memorising it). Furthermore, the provision of questions at the conclusion of each chapter, allows the text to be easily adapted for use in staff meetings or professional development sessions with teachers.
Urbanski highlights the crucial role that parents have as the first and most fundamental educators of faith for their children. While this is true, in many cases (at least in Australia), the role of spiritual education has fallen mostly to the teacher in the Christian or Catholic school. It follows then that Urbanski may find a broader (and more eager) audience with teachers from these settings. Pray With Me would be a fantastic resource for those working within the Catholic educational context. I would especially recommend it as an introductory text for new or beginning teachers, experienced teachers new to Catholic Schools, or, for school leaders wanting to lead staff in professional development on the topic.