Family prayers at the dinner table lately have gone something like this: "Dear God, thank you for this day, thank you for this food. Amen." It seems like every meal, this is what our girls pray. Now, I know that God enjoys hearing the prayers of children, but I think He probably prefers that little thought goes into the fact that we're talking to Him. Our dinnertime prayers have become habit, but they have not become heartfelt.
And, you know what? This is a failing on my part. I haven't taught my kids to pray. I thought they would just figure it out on their own, which is silly because Jesus taught His disciples to pray. If He had to teach them, why wouldn't I have to teach my kids how to pray?
I'm out to change our family's prayer life. While I want my kids to feel free to talk with God, I don't want their prayers to become rote.
I want them to talk to God from their hearts.
I want them to know that they can take anything to Him.
I want them to know that He answers prayers.
They aren't learning that from their current repetitive prayers.
Ephesians 6:18 says "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people." God wants to hear from us. He wants to hear what is on our hearts. He wants to answer "all kinds of prayers and requests."
So, in our house for the next few weeks, we're going to consciously be working on prayer. We're going to learn what God has to say about it and how to pray. We're going to start being intentional in our prayers and learning that God wants to hear from us all the time. Here are some of the things we'll be doing.
- Setting an example. It dawned on me the other day that my kids rarely hear me pray. They don't have an example to follow because we're not giving them one. It's not that I don't pray during the day, I just don't do it out loud. When Jesus wanted to teach His disciples how to pray, He prayed an example prayer for them. His disciples heard Him talk to God. I'll be making a conscious effort to pray out loud when my girls are around.
- Being intentional in sharing requests. I pray for my kids all the time, but it rarely occurs to me to ask them to pray for me. That's about to change. We have a new piece of artwork in our house. It's a painted bulletin board that will hang on the wall. It's our prayer board. Whenever someone has a prayer request, we'll be sticking a prayer request on it. Others in the family will read them and pray over them.
- Praying for others. So many times, my girls' requests center around themselves. We're going to start being intentional about praying for others. One night this week at dinner, we're going to make a list of people we want to pray for. We'll drop their names in a jar and pull one at every night and pray for them.
- Keeping track of answered prayers. Learning to pray is easier when we can see how God is answering our prayers. We'll be keeping a prayer journal where we'll write down our requests, then write down when God answers them. This will give us a record of how God has worked in our lives and will give my girls a tangible reminder that God does answer prayer.
Prayer is an important thing to teach our kids. It's the number one way we communicate with God. This summer, the blog will spend a whole week focusing on praying for your kids and teaching them to pray, but we're going to get started around our house this week because talking to God is too important to put off.