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Maria Riley shares her experience leading her kids in their imaginations through the woods to an intimate conversation with Jesus. 

Lately I’ve been looking for ways to diversify our family prayer time. My kids are no longer in diapers (woot!), and my heart is being drawn to introduce my children to various types of prayers.  

Daily prayer has always been a staple in our house in the form of grace before meals and a prayer at nighttime. We pray the Rosary together on car trips and pray intercessory prayers when we learn of someone’s sickness or need. None of these prayers, though, teach my kids how to have a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus.  

The Ball of Red String: A Guided Meditation for Children by Marlene Halpin, OP, was a perfect next step in prayer for my family because it teaches intimacy and conversation with Jesus. This prayer book is simple and interactive. The mediation takes listeners through a journey in their imagination to their Heart Home where Jesus is waiting for them. 




As I read the book to my kids, I let my own imagination take me through the woods to my own Heart Home. Even though I’ve always had faith and a prayer life, I’d never prayed like this before. Page by page, the guided meditation took us on a journey following our ball of red string through the woods. Once we got to our Heart Homes, we sat in silence conversing with Jesus in our hearts.  

After the brief silence, the book resumed the imaginative story back out of the woods and to our home. Readers are reminded that Jesus is always waiting for us at our Heart Homes, and we can visit Him anytime.  

I loved the guided meditation because it taught my kids a new way to pray without me fumbling through it. I had the words on the page to read, so I felt confident leading our family in this way. Before doing the meditation together, I had read through the book, including the very helpful parent/teacher guide in the back. There I found tips, suggestions, and options for variations.  

Any parent (or religion teacher) could easily incorporate this into their family. We experienced it together before bedtime, but any calm time would work. The Ball of Red String: A Guided Meditation for Children is a perfect introduction to meditative prayer which can be intimidating, even for adults. I didn’t grow up praying this way, and I appreciated the easy to follow method. Sometimes, intimate prayer can be as simple as visiting Jesus at my Heart Home for a moment.  

My daughters did struggle a little bit with the concept of a guided meditation, but since this was the first time for all of us, I wasn’t surprised. The silence was difficult to maintain, and some of my kids were able to imagine more easily than others. The book is recommended for children of all ages, but my youngest is 9. Depending on their ability to sit quietly and use their imagination, the meditation may not be successful for all kids. One of the great things about this particular meditation is that it is meant to be revisited over and over. I know that with each additional prayer time, the kids and I will become more comfortable with the process. 

Ask for The Ball of Red String at your local Catholic bookseller, or order online from Amazon.com or the publisher, Loyola Press.


20240208 MRiley BOOK

Copyright 2024 Maria Riley
Images: Canva