Prayer is such a personal experience for each individual. For some believers it’s an essential part of their walk with the Lord, for others it’s like a new foreign language, something we deeply desire and honestly fear. Some might even feel uncomfortable praying with others. Like anything new, we need to take baby steps to make it part of our daily routine. Not everyone is going to have an amazing prayer life on the first try. But like all things worth doing, if you take baby steps in cultivating this essential life component, you will eventually grow to have a deeper prayer life. This begs the question, what exactly is prayer?
In essence it is just talking with God. In any relationship we desire to communicate with each other. We need that connection to feel validated and loved. As a mother I want to know what my kid’s thoughts are. Is it so difficult to assume that God, our heavenly Father, has the same desire to know us, to be connected with us? He wants to be the person we blab on the phone with, He wants to be the one we share our deepest fears with. He desires for us to trust in him completely, to trust every aspect of our daily lives to Him. He makes it so easy for us to pray. Did you know that you can pray in bed, on your knees, in the car, in the shower, in the closet, on the toilet, while washing dishes anywhere and he will hear you? In Psalms, David wrote “I think of you on my bed and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help…my soul clings to you.” (Psalm63: 6-8 NRSV) God is always ready to listen.
“The Lord would speak to Moses face to face as a man speaks with a friend.” Exodus 33:11NIV
As a child, I thought that you could only reach God at church. I honestly believed that’s where God lived and that’s the only place he took prayers. I’m so happy to know he takes them anytime and anywhere we are. There is so much freedom in knowing that, and teaching that to our kids. Sometimes we get caught up in the details of prayer. It wasn’t designed to be so complicated. It’s just a child talking to their parent. We are God’s children and He is genuinely pleased to hear us. He already knows our thoughts so there is no possible way of messing up.
Everyone is going to have his or her own special form of prayer. Recently, a wonderful family from church watched our three kids (Liam 8, Emma 6, and Evan 2). Here are the accounts of the evening…
The family gathered around the dinner table and prepared to pray for their meal. The father intertwined his fingers cleared his voice, and as he lowered his head, he heard Evan’s small voice, “Not like that.” The father quickly glanced up, took note of the child and once again began to pray. Once more he heard Evan say, “Not like that.” He then patiently lifted his head and asked Evan, “How should I pray?” Evan quickly responded, “Like this.” He placed his hands, palms flat against each other then he rested his head against them and said, “Gracias, Dios.” Evan was only two at the time, he believed there was just one way you could hold your hands, and there is only one way your head should rest upon your hands and of course God only hears your prayers in Spanish. In his sweet way he was concerned about the family and thought he was educating them on the proper form of prayer. Evan, doesn’t know his mama usually holds her head because she has a migraine, she speaks to God in Spanish because that’s her first language and it makes her feel close to her heavenly father.
I’ve had various discussions with the kids over prayer. They each have their strong beliefs based upon what they have heard at home, church, and VBS. Liam believes that Jesus’s name has power, because no one can go to the Father except through Jesus (John 14:6). So whenever he prays he ends his prayers with, “In Jesus name Amen.” Emma believes, Jesus loves the little children above all people, so she ends her prayers with, “And all God’s children say Amen.” Evan believes God only speaks in Spanish, so you better learn Spanish. I’m just happy that they feel comfortable with talking to the Lord. There is no specific formula to prayer it’s just you and your Papa talking about the day.
When I was a newlywed, I recall my husband sat down and shared his hopes and dreams for our family. Above all things he wanted us to be a couple that prayed together. He wanted us to take our request and concerns to the Lord. As he spoke, I felt a sense of anxiety growing within me. I felt panic overtaking me. I finally built up enough courage to interrupt him and tell him, I just didn’t feel the same way. I wasn’t in the same spiritual place he was. Prayer was something sacred and it only involved the Lord and myself, I couldn’t share that with him. I quickly saw the joy drain from his face. I saw him hold back the hurt and disappointment my words had caused. Over the years, I’ve come to grow in my walk with the Lord and see the importance of praying as an individual and within a group. I’ve also finally overcome my fear of praying with my spouse. I’ve come to realize that we are part of something greater. When we pray together we edify each other and we bring praise to our Lord.
Now that I’m a mom I want to teach my kids the importance of prayer. How can we teach something that is so personal to our precious children? Children learn by example.
Prayer is something that we teach our children by modeling it on a daily basis. By including it in our daily lives we bring our faith to life. Here are some practical ideas on making prayer part of your daily family life. Keep a prayer journal, write down your prayers and share it with the kids, so that they may know that God answers prayer. We can make it tangible by sharing stories of friends or families who have had answered prayer. Ask the kids if they would like to pray, be patient you might get some odd prayers. Evan often forces us to thank the Lord for his favorite movies, Journey 2, The Iron Giant and let’s not forget Tinker Bell. He is being grateful for the things that matter to him. Thank them for their prayers this will encourage them to continue praying. Sometimes my kids pray for my migraines on days when I feel great. I thank them for keeping my health as a priority. Prayer can bring a family together. Children will often share more things as they pray, because they know God is listening.
“Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to join in my struggle by praying to God for me. Do this because of your love for me, given to you by the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:30 NLT
May your family grow closer together in prayer, may you feel encouraged in your personal walk with the Lord and may your children bless you.
The weary ones had rest, the sad had joy.
That day, and wondered “how?”
A plowman singing at his work had prayed,
“Lord, help them now.”
Away in foreign lands, they wondered “how”
Their simple word had the power.
At home, the gleaners, two or three had met to pray an hour.
Yes, we are always wondering “how?” Because we do not see
Someone, unknown perhaps, and far away
On bended knee.