How can we make family prayer a priority? What does praying with our family even look like? My kids struggle to pay attention so should we keep trying to pray with them? How do I pray out loud when it makes me super nervous?
First, let me encourage you that if you are reading this then you are doing something right! We all struggle to know how to disciple and raise our kids to know and love God. I’m not sure anyone has mastered it and most moms I talk to all agree that we are doing the best we can.
I can assure you that praying together as a family in my home is not always pretty. In fact, it’s actually quite loud and usually NEVER goes how I planned it out in my mind!
Praying is about a relationship, not a perfectly planned time of prayer. It is a chance to model what a relationship with the Lord is. The heart is that we want our kids and families to fall in love with Jesus. As Christian parents, we use prayer as a way to learn how to walk with God through life.
Your family is watching and learning what it means to be intimate with God. So, that’s what we do! We talk to God. A lot. Prayers do not have to be long or formal. It is ok to keep it light, casual, and use language they understand.
Cultivate an awareness of God’s presence in the details of everyday life – smell the flowers, marvel at the sunset, watch the ants. Spend time celebrating the creative brilliance of the One who made it all. His glory is everywhere and as parents, we get the opportunity to teach our kids to see it. Use bedtimes, meal times, moments of discipline, car conversations, conversations around fears or anxieties to pray with and for your family.
There is no wrong time to pray. Sometimes I will just start praying out loud. Usually, it happens if I am about to lose my cool and although my kids look at me like I am crazy, I am giving them the chance to hear me bringing my needs before the Lord. I hope in those moments they see that I NEED God.
Yes, even mom (especially mom) needs His help and strength! I desperately want my family to see that I am putting my hope in Christ. I don’t get it right most of the time and we are constantly learning, but my hope is that they see me talking with my Savior and that it is planting seeds in their hearts that they also need Him.
There’s no better time to start praying together. Pick a time – we’re in a pandemic so there are a lot of options right now. It can feel uncomfortable, but you can always start by reading a psalm and praying together. Or use a devotion of some sort to help guide you.
I borrowed this idea from this article a few months ago and it has given us a great framework that I wanted to share.
I write prayer lists on note cards for Monday through Friday that we use for the year, following this format (it helps us to purposefully pray for others):
- One family member: This person gets to share their specific requests on that day. We also pray for special needs in our community and world.
- A missionary we support.
- A ministry we’re involved in.
- One leader: We pray for our governing officials, bosses at work, church leaders, school principals, and coaches.
The family member whose day it is to pray for shares, and then the person to the right of them prays for their requests, along with everything else on the card. So, over the course of the week, everyone in the family is prayed for, and everyone prays.
“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.” ― C.S. Lewis