Prayer isn’t something that just comes naturally. Prayer must be taught. Our Lord Himself demonstrates this when He teaches the disciples how to pray. He says,“Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…” (Matthew 6:9 ESV) We know that God both hears and answers our prayers. We know that it is a great benefit and blessing. But thanks to our old sinful flesh, we pass on our desire to hide from God and refuse to talk to Him. Our children learn not to pray from us.
Praying as a family can be almost as hard as praying alone or praying in your marriage. In some respects, it is even harder. How do you find the time? What if I don’t want to pray? What if the kids are acting up or there’s a game on that I want to watch? The reasons not to pray seem to go on and on.
The great thing about the Christian faith, though, is that it is never too late. Each day begins anew. Things can and do change. They can get better. How important is that to remember, as we bask in the glow of the resurrection!
So then, let’s get to it. Here are a few simple steps to help make prayer a part of your common life together as a Christian family:
- Do it. Nike got it right. You don’t debate whether to brush your teeth or eat breakfast in the morning. Christians pray. It’s that simple. Think through how to make this a habit . It typically takes about six weeks to establish a habit. Give yourselves that six weeks. Make reminders. Put a note on the steering wheel or on the fridge (or on the remote control!). Make a commitment that as a family, we are going to pray together once a day (plus meals, which we will cover next month).
- Keep it simple. The Lord’s Prayer and Luther’s Morning or Evening prayer would be a great place to start. We’ve done that for years in our family, especially while our children are young. But by making that a part of our life as a family, it has slowly been ingrained into us and our children.
- Teach the words. Children learn how to speak from their parents. They learn how to pray from their parents, too. Give them the language of faith. Be deliberate about it. By being deliberate about it, you are telling your children that this is important, and that it is worth learning and doing. Start with the Lord’s Prayer, and then work your way out to other prayers.
- Give yourself the context to succeed. You know your own family. When are they going to be the most likely to actually hear and pay attention? Nine o’clock at night? Right after supper? Right after breakfast. Each family is different. I would encourage you to think about what is prime time for your family, and then figure out how to work prayer into that prime time. If your children are tired, crabby and just want to either go to bed or fight with each other, that may not be the best time to work on praying.
- Don’t despair! It is very easy to get discouraged with children. It’s work. But it is totally worth it.
This is a gift you can give to them that will literally last forever. Pray for patience for yourself and your spouse. Pray for your children, that they learn how to receive God’s Word and speak back to Him what He has given to them.
The blessings will flow from this. Believe me. I hope you’re ready!
+ God be with you +
[From the April 2010 Messiah’s Messenger