PRAYER AND YOUR FAMILY
"The Bible advises even adults to “become like little children” (Matthew 18:3) if we wish to attain spiritual enlightenment."
Most children are naturals at prayer, having few reservations about what’s impossible and what’s not important enough to bother God with. Small wonder that the Bible advises even adults to “become like little children” (Matthew 18:3) if we wish to attain spiritual enlightenment. If you haven’t been in the habit of encouraging your children to pray—or of praying much yourself—cultivating the habit can yield miraculous benefits in family togetherness, confident living, and yes, even unexpected and unexplainable solutions to your problems.
Praying in the Evening
The tradition of having children say their prayers at bedtime, kneeling by the bed and pouring out their wishes, thank-you's, and bless-everyone's to God, isn’t as quaint and outdated as many think. If you want your family to get the most from this practice, besides having your children say their own prayers, lay your hands on their heads and let them hear you pray for their health, growth, and success. Then, when it’s your own bedtime, do some additional praying of your own, either kneeling by your bed or sitting in a chair.
Praying in the Morning
Morning prayer gets less attention than evening prayer in our rush-off-to-work-and-school world, which is a shame because prayer does wonders for starting the day on an optimistic note. Try getting up a half hour earlier, or replacing your morning-paper or radio-news time with prayer time (you can always check the news later, after building up inner strength to handle it). If you can convince your family to join you, so much the better (special “early bird” pastries or cocoa might provide incentive); if not, you can still pray that each of them will have a good day and that you will be patient and loving with them. Either way, take a couple of minutes to serve everyone’s breakfast at once and say grace before digging in.
Praying at Meals
Indeed, grace should be said at every family meal, whether breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Besides the spiritual benefits, it provides a pause that helps diners remember to eat slowly and enjoy their food. Great for healthy digestion. Let even the smallest children take turns leading prayer before eating. The more they participate directly, the more they’ll see it as a natural part of life.
Praying on Other Occasions
Besides the pauses in the daily routine, there are not-so-daily times that are ideal for leading your family in prayer:
- Before leaving for weekly worship services, pray that everyone will be attentive and receive blessings from what they learn.
- When someone is leaving for camp, a business trip, college, or even regular school or work, pray over him that he will be protected and successful.
- When celebrating a birthday or holiday, let everyone take turns praying their thanks for the honoree or occasion.
- Look also for opportunities to send up quick prayers for help, patience, or whatever a situation calls for. Speak these prayers out loud and with confidence, and your children will soon be doing the same—and seeing amazing answers!