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We all want to make family prayer central, right? We want our kids to grow up praying naturally and feeling the closeness of Jesus. But wanting it and making it happen are two very different things.
It’s normal to want our kids to turn to Jesus naturally and to know His comfort. But life is so busy. It’s hard enough to try to find our own time to pray, when our kids seem to take all our time and then demand more.
It has helped me enormously to build in certain automatic times of prayer with my family. In recent years we have even found all three of these habits a blessing with house guests as well.
Three habits that can help make prayer central as a family
1.) Make family prayer central by praying aloud at mealtimes
Many of us grew up with prayers at mealtimes and never thought much of it. We may have had parents say the prayers, or we may have been asked to contribute as children. It may be that you first prayed aloud at the dinner table. That’s where my first remembered prayers are.
If your family was like mine during my youngest days, you may have adopted silent prayer when eating out. I remember clearly as a little girl, looking up after praying silently to see that my parents were still praying, and then quickly bowing my head again.
Silent prayer is good. It’s excellent–and probably the most common kind of prayer. But group prayer takes full advantage of Jesus’ words about being with two or three of us gathered together. Vocalized prayer together also allows us to feel the Holy Spirit growing our faith.
Mealtimes where we share food and share prayer as families–even if it’s the only part of the family at home at the moment–also grow our relationship with each other and with God. Mealtime prayers help make family prayer central knitting our hearts together in Christ.
2.) Make family prayer central by praying with children when they are upset
Another key time to pray together is when someone is upset. But NOT as an attempt to solve the negative emotion. That can be hurtful. I was blessed with a mom who empathized with me and a dad who always had an idea on how to fix the situation. Fortunately, both of them were also faithful prayer warriors.
My kids always needed to be heard first, as I did. They needed sympathy. Many times they also needed advice. Like me, they often profited from biblical words and principles shared with them in difficult times. But what we all especially profited from was parents praying with us empathetically while looking to God for his wisdom.
>>Also see, How to raise your children to confide in you<<
3.) Make family prayer central by praying as a family before bedtime.
When we started family prayer time, we were exhausted, young parents eager to see our little one asleep after a long day. But we also wanted to teach her to pray. My husband and I chose to pray together with our little one at night as a way of emphasizing to her the importance of this time with God.
I personally also wanted us both to witness those exciting first little prayers she uttered and enjoy them together. As time went on, we needed to consciously commit to that time because it was much easier to do tag-team parenting and take turns.
And I do believe in tag-team parenting! But I realized the importance of a united front. We wanted this to be an anticipated family event, rather than just a time-to-get-into-bed routine. Interestingly, on the times that one exhausted parent tried to skip out, our daughter asked for the missing parent. That’s because we worked to make family prayer central.
Over the years, our routine morphed–from a toddler’s bed-side to the family room. The rule was that prayer time happened when the first family member retired to bed. We began with simple prayers of thanksgiving and asking God to bless loved ones. As our children grew, so did their prayers.
Over the years those family prayer times involved countless hours and countless difficulties shared. At times some of us wished this were not our every-night routine–because of the time it could take. Just like in typical prayer groups, individuals would sometimes feel it necessary to explain specifics of how they wanted to pray or be prayed for. But, interestingly, these were often specifics of the day or of the heart that had not come out earlier.
The difficulties and joys we brought to Jesus together drew us closer as a family. More importantly, they reinforced how central God is to us as a family. As we learned to make prayer central in our family, God made Himself real to our children.
At different times in young adulthood, each of my three daughters commented that she believed the most important thing we did for them as parents was to have regular prayer time at night. As a whole family.
Praying out loud together also gave us the excitement of sharing God’s answers with each other when He did answer amazingly. Or comforting each other as we continued to wait for His answers.
No matter what habits you choose to make family prayer central, I’m sure you will be blessed by them.
Because God is honored when we turn to Him and when we lead others to Him. Even when our children are too young to know what they are hearing. Even when they are angry and resistant. Even when we are so exhausted or frustrated that we feel like we are hanging on by our fingernails. God holds us in our weakness and uses our turning to him. He can speak to our little ones in ways that amaze us.
God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.
Hi, I’m Lisa. I love talking to people, reading, traveling, hanging out at Lake Michigan, cooking, baking, gardening, and flower arranging. And I love talking to people about Jesus and how he’s working in my life. And how he works through our words to others.
This is my sometimes-painful, often-exhilarating faith journey—the ups and downs. My parents sharing their faith with me and my later sharing my faith with my three daughters and now my grandsons.
1 Corinthians 12 calls each of us an important part of the body of Christ. It could also call us each an important stone in a beautiful building.
Each of us as believers began our relationship with Jesus Christ with one small stone of belief and understanding of who God is. Stone by stone, our faith grew.