Tired Parents, This Prayer Book Is for You

BOOK PICK: Stay Close to the Sacred Heart and ‘Practical Ways to Grow in the Love of God and Get Your Family to Heaven’

Detail on ‘The Prayer Book for Tired Parents’ cover featuring ‘The Holy Family’ © 2022 Valerie Delgado
Detail on ‘The Prayer Book for Tired Parents’ cover featuring ‘The Holy Family’ © 2022 Valerie Delgado (photo: Valerie Delgado illustration / EWTN Publishing)

The Prayer Book for Tired Parents

Practical Ways to Grow in the Love of God and Get Your Family to Heaven

By Dave and Debbie Cowden

EWTN Publishing, 2022

362 pages, $19.99

To order: EWTNRC.com or (800) 854-6316

“You’re called to be a holy parent, even if you’re a tired parent,” according to David and Debbie Cowden, the authors of The Prayer Book for Tired Parents: Practical Ways to Grow in the Love of God and Get Your Family to Heaven. As a matter of fact, being tired, a frequent side effect of parenting, can actually help us on our way to holiness with the right attitude, they explain.

The book is a glimpse into a Catholic couple reaching for holiness with the realization that it happens in the ordinary moments of life, including when tired. They had three children in five years, so the Cowdens understand that parents get tired of being tired. But sleep-deprived or not, they want to help parents deepen their relationship with God. 

The book opens with the words of Pope St. John Paul II, “Only by praying together with their children can a father and mother — exercising their royal priesthood — penetrate the innermost depths of their children’s hearts and leave an impression that the future events in their lives will not be able to efface” (Familiaris Consortio, 60).

The directive is easier said than done, so the Cowdens offer insights. “If you want to grow in your love of God,” they wrote, “and get your family to Heaven but are impossibly tired and don’t even know where to begin, let us help by reintroducing you to the beauty, goodness, and joy of your Catholic Faith.”

Although Debbie admits she has always striven to be a high achiever, in college and beyond, she also admits that being a mother has been her most challenging stage yet. “The weight of the responsibility to raise children in the Faith, as promised at Baptism, is compounded by the already tremendous responsibility of keeping the kids fed, clothed, bathed, and educated,” she writes. “No wonder so many parents are tired!”


Recalibrating a Prayer Life

The Cowdens write about how they had shared a healthy prayer life together, but parenting threw a wrench into that rhythm. “Most new parents expect to lose sleep, savings, and serenity, but many don’t anticipate how their spiritual lives will be impacted by the birth of a child,” they admit. 

Now, they share their stories and insights to “help you develop a home brimming with love, peace, and faith that will help your family get to Heaven. … Instead of being helplessly tired, and discouraged, as we had been in the past, we can now see how our everyday pursuit of holiness fits into God’s big picture for our lives.”

The first part of The Prayer Book for Tired Parents gets parents in the mindset with chapters such as: “The Spirit Is Willing, but the Flesh Is Weak,” “The Saints Were Tired Parents Too,” “Put God First, No Matter What” and the enticing: “Prepare for a Total Transformation.” 

Practical suggestions include having the house blessed, enthroning the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the home, and consecrating the family to the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph. Traditional prayers and popular devotions for Catholics are included as well as short tips for building a foundation of prayer and growing in love of God. 

Brief introductions to saints and prayers for their intercession especially relevant for parents are given. These include saints to intercede for impossible causes, a prayer during a child’s tantrum and prayers for when a loved one has left the faith, healing family rifts, in thanksgiving for groceries and success in gardening, finding the grace to forgive others, and for when everything feels like it’s going up in flames. 


Inspiration From Mother Angelica

Mother Angelica, who founded EWTN, the largest religious media network in the world and the parent company of the Register, played a central role in the lives of the Cowdens. They both watched EWTN before they started dating. Debbie was a cradle Catholic, and Dave was converting to the faith when they met in college. “Though we came from different walks of life, Mother Angelica’s mission of EWTN changed both of us,” they write. 

The Cowdens have made appearances on the network, and Debbie started working.

for EWTN in 2013 as a TV series and live-show producer and continued after their move to Ohio in 2019. Dave works in health care, and Debbie continues working for EWTN from home as a digital-media specialist. 

There’s a chapter titled: “Mother Angelica’s Wisdom for Tired Parents” as well as a generous number of her quotes in the last section reserved for journaling. “We are immersed in Mother Angelica’s mission,” the Cowdens explain, “and have adopted her way of holiness — doing everything for the love of Jesus, recognizing how God uses our weakness for His glory, and striving to be holy where we are.”

Some of Mother Angelica’s wisdom includes: “When you have God, you don’t have to know everything about it; you just do it. ... I don’t care if you’re 5 or 105, God from all eternity chose you to be where you are, at this time in history, to change the world.“ 

And also: “I want you to have a new concept of holiness. You’ve got to be holy where you are: washing the dishes, at the office, at school. Where you are, you can be holy there.”

Like parenthood, the Cowdens note that the road to holiness is challenging and can be exhausting but point out that you are not alone. They hope the book will give parents confidence and a plan of action to grow in love with God through it all. “It is exhausting, it is difficult, it is an incredible responsibility — and God bestowed it upon you,” they said. And being tired, according to them, reminds us that parenting is important work. 

Part of the strategy, they explain, is changing the way we might be praying. “Instead of asking God for certain favors, we are learning abandonment, trust, hope, charity, selflessness, and humility. What we pray for and how we pray are completely different from how we prayed before having children.”

The ultimate goal of this book, the Cowdens underscore, is to help you use your vocation and state of life for God’s glory. 

“From our own spiritual journey, we realized that our ‘flesh’ is always going to be weak. There will always be more we could have done to help our kids grow in holiness. There will always be times when we let God down or let our kids down. When ‘the spirit is willing,’ however, we invite God into our homes and open our hearts to receive the grace to be good parents — grace that we can receive only from God; the grace that ultimately saves our children’s souls.”

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COMMENTARY: ‘We all want progress,’ writes C.S. Lewis, ‘but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.’