Our Little Oratory

Earlier this year, I spent many weeks carefully reading The Little Oratory by David Clayton and Leila Lawler, and I promised that I would write an actual review when I finished.  I find that those things most important to me, or that have the greatest impact, are the hardest to write about.  The last few months have been an absolute blur, and I didn’t want to do a haphazard job of sharing my thoughts about The Little Oratory.  Over the course of these months I did, however, take lots of pictures of our own little prayer table as we created it, as you can see!

I’ve long been a fan of Leila’s, having gotten to know her through her must-read blog, Like Mother, Like Daughter.  The thought of an entire book written by Leila almost seemed too good to be true.  But in fact, that wasn’t the case.  It really is that good.  As far as books written to encourage and instruct go, I find that they are often overwhelming.  Rather than being encouraged, I find myself discouraged, knowing that there is no way that I will be able to make the author’s suggestions come to life in my very busy household.  But Leila obviously understands that well, having raised her own large family.  Reading  The Little Oratory didn’t overwhelm me, it didn’t make me feel inadequate.  I also didn’t walk away feeling like I needed to start a dozen new things.  The simple act of creating a designated space in our home that focuses on our faith was very attainable for me.

In this book about building a prayer life with your family, Leila gently instructs.  Every step of the way she is careful not to pressure, overwhelm, or even worse, cause the reader to feel ashamed of his or her own perceived inadequacies.  She holds your hand.  This topic, the sharing of our faith and prayer life with our children, I believe it’s a sensitive one.  Attempting to hand down my faith and model it for my children is both my first priority, and the one that is easiest to neglect.  I’m thankful for Leila’s practical advice, her gentle encouragement.  My family’s prayer life is always evolving as we search for the rhythm that best suits our needs.  I suspect that as our children grow and change, so will our prayer habits.

Elizabeth Foss and Leila Lawler recorded a wonderful series of podcasts covering some of the chapters in The Little Oratory.  You can find the first in the series here, along with links to the others.  I highly recommend listening to these as you read the book!  My favorite chapter in the book is, “The Family and the Home.”  It’s full of really lovely and practical advice for the home.  My second favorite chapter is “The Liturgical Year.”  The chapter opens with a discussion of the different types of time that God gives us.  The fact that He didn’t just give us a day, but actually created other ways to mark time such as the changing seasons in many parts of the world.  My favorite passage from that chapter speaks of the way that, “The rhythm of growth, bounty, fading glory, and cold death” mirror our spiritual life in nature.  I found these words to be quite affirming as I find this especially true for myself.  I have learned to expect my emotions to evolve and change with the seasons and the liturgical calendar.  It’s not a coincidence that the forty days of Lent often line up with the last forty days of winter barrenness.

We placed our own little oratory next to our front door, thinking that a good place for it, but also not having many other choices in our small space.  I loved that Leila gave plenty of tips for creating a prayer corner, without making me feel like I had to do things “just so.”  We have done what works for us, and I am very pleased with it.  I was given a small broken table a few years ago, and it has sat waiting for a leg ever since.  As I began reading The Little Oratory, I knew that almost forgotten table’s purpose at last!  Jonny fashioned a pine leg and attached it before repairing the doors, and I gave it a coat of paint.  Inside, I now store all of my children’s Catholic books along with prayer cards and rosaries.  I love having one place for all of these items to be gathered.  I tried keeping candles on the table for a time, but they have since been put away until Job is older.  While I waited to order icons for our table I  framed some of David Clayton’s printed icons that are included at the back of The Little Oratory.  They are really quite nice, especially considering the fact that they are a standard part of the book.  Eventually though, I ordered icons from Legacy Icons and I am very pleased with them!  They are very beautiful and well made and have held up to periodically finding themselves on the floor thanks to little ones.  I ordered the “standard” icons, waiting until there was a sale advertised on Legacy Icons’ Facebook page.  Our antique crucifix was found in this shop.

And finally, because I purchased my own, and was given an additional copy of The Little Oratory by the publisher, Sophia Institute Press, I have an extra copy to give to one of you!  If you’d like to win, mention so in your comment, and I will randomly select a winner next week.


The winner is Adri, who commented, “I’ve followed LMLD and love them, thanks!  Would love the book little oratory…”




  1. just in case it’s not too late…please enter my name too!

  2. Jada Sharp says:

    I would love a copy of this book!

  3. Am I too late? I have been wanting this book! Thank you Ginny!

  4. Aliza joy says:

    am I too late? oh, I hope not! I struggle with prayer. like many, I imagine. but I’ve been yearning for a way to make it a more central part of the home.

  5. I absolutely love the idea of a prayer space for my family! I will be getting this book either by winning it or requesting it for Christmas! 🙂 Thanks for the giveaway!

  6. Oh I hope I’m not too late 😉
    I have been wanting to read this since it first came out! School books took priority, lol

  7. I’ve been eyeing this book, just waiting for the funds to buy it. Winning would be lovely!

  8. Cathy Colliins says:

    I enjoyed seeing your little pray-ers in action. Thanks for the book review–Cathy

  9. That would be a lovely book to read!

  10. You family’s Little Oratory is lovely! Thank you for sponsoring a giveaway; would love to win!

  11. I would love to win this book!

  12. I love how your table turned out! I have a couple questions. I have never refurnished furniture before. Did you have to prime before using the chalk paint? What makes the chalk paint different than regular paint? And totally off topic, but who’s the maker of your chair and ottoman? I would love something like that in my living room! (And did I mention I would love the book as well 🙂 ) Thank you so much!

  13. Can’t wait to read the book. Would love to win:-)!

  14. Your little table is just right, interesting how things do fall into place, in it’s time. I would love to read this book. By the way, I think about your journey once in awhile, and how well you share it, thank you.

  15. kristen snow says:

    I would love to read this book!!

  16. I would love to read this book!

  17. This would be a lovely book to own!


  18. What a beautiful little oratory. The book is indeed wonderful. I happen to already have a copy, so don’t put me into the drawing

  19. I would love to win a copy! And your blue table looks lovely.

  20. Julie Derryberry says:

    I love your blog! I’d love my own copy of the Little Oratory, too!
    Thank you.

  21. I would love to receive a copy of this book. I looks so good and something I could definitely use. Thanks for the great giveaway!

  22. I love this. So great to be reminded that living our faith doesn’t have to be this burdensome to do list or unobtainable goal. In fact, Pope Francis has so much to say about how the little things, saying a prayer together as a family before meals, saying the rosary, reading a bible verse together, add up to mean so much. What a great reminder this post was me to follow that example!

  23. This is lovely. What a special spot in your home! I would love to read this book for our family.

  24. Hello – Your table and Little Oratory space is so lovely! I have been searching for a way to make a space in our home and haven’t quite figured it all out =) I would love to win this book, as I have been reading and re-reading the introductory chapter that you can read for free over and over! Right now it seems out kitchen table where we school is it unfortunately it has to be packed up for meals =( Blessings!


  1. […] space. Her little oratory is very simple yet elegant and, I think, definitely inviting for prayer. Our Little Oratory – Thanks for the […]

I love to hear from you!