We gather for a “family prayer time” every week but sometimes it seems like something we “do” rather than something that is having a meaningful impact. Do you have any suggestions for making prayer a more integral part of our family life?
Prayer–Its so much easier to talk about it than to do it. I congratulate you on going beyond being “hearers” or “repeaters” of the word to being “doers” by making regular time to make prayer a part of who you are as a family. You are already giving your kids a bigger gift than you know.
Most young people don’t have good models of prayer. As a young boy I was confused by the many prayer meetings my parents took me to where there was actually very little prayer. A lot of time was spent talking about other people’s problems but not much time praying about them.
My best instruction in prayer was the example of family and friends who didn’t just talk about it but for whom prayer was a way of life. I remember my Grandma Jackson’s three-page, three-column single-spaced prayer list she kept in her Bible that she had retyped numerous times because she had worn out the previous ones. She especially loved showing me the requests she had crossed off because God had answered them.
I remember seeing my dad on his knees by his chair in the living room every morning praying through his prayer list. I remember my friend Dale Schlafer interrupting some of our conversations to pray for whatever it was we were talking about.
Find ways to make prayer a natural part of your day. When there is a problem or crisis what’s one of the first thing your kids see you do? Is it to pray? When you are blessed do you share a prayer of praise? When something bad happens do you share a prayer of petition?
In addition to your weekly prayer time ask your kids specific ways you can pray for them and share how they can pray for you . . . then follow-up and ask about the request that was shared. Each week discuss one of God’s promises on prayer and how to apply it. Discuss some of the many Bible stories about God’s answers to prayer. At your weekly prayer time be sure to share and celebrate any answers to the requests.
And, most importantly, make sure you spend ample time actually praying! Richard Foster wrote that, “To pray is to change. Prayer is the central avenue God uses to transform us.” Prayer changes things, people, marriages and families and as you continue to be faithful your family will experience the difference that, according to James 5:16, effectual and fervent prayer can make.