Hearing Brooke recite our bedtime prayer and mealtime prayer on her own is one of the sweetest sounds to my ear as a mom. Prayer has been so important and vital to our own life and walk with the Lord, so Kevin and I have tried to be very intentional in teaching Brooke about prayer. I learned about prayer from a very young age and have so many memories of learning to pray with my parents. My prayer is that my children look back on their childhood and have those same memories and see the importance of prayer in their life. Teaching someone to pray is one thing, but cultivating a culture of prayer in your family is another thing. A culture of prayer is different than a meal time prayer ritual (while I will argue still equally important). A culture of prayer is daily reliance and open communication with the Lord in good times and in hard times – at meal times and on playgrounds. It is an open dialogue with your Creator, your spouses heart and your children’s heart.
We by no means have this figured out or in any way claim that we are perfect at this, because we are so far from perfect its laughable. But, we strive to cultivate a culture of prayer in our family and this is how we have tried to accomplish it:
We started by implementing a certain prayer for mealtime and a certain prayer for bedtime. We say these before every meal and each night before bed. Over time, Brooke has memorized these prayers and can now say them by herself with little prompting. This is something she enjoys and some nights, she even reminds us that its time to read our bible and pray. Practice is essential to any discipline and prayer is a form of spiritual discipline.
Spiritual disciplines are ways in which we practically obey the Lords commands of us in scripture. In 1 Timothy 4:7 it tell us to “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” Therefore, the goal of spiritual discipline is godliness or as you may have also heard – sanctification or our process of becoming more like Christ. Think of this as a practice – you practice cooking or you practice piano. It is something you do, not a quality you have. Prayer is a spiritual discipline, while joy is a product of sanctification.
Establish a foundation for prayer by praying with your spouse. Your children need to see you praying with your spouse and you should also pray together alone. Setting a firm foundation for your marriage and family in Christ is essential. If you aren’t sure where to start on this… start here >> How To Pray With Your Spouse. You will experience a whole new level of intimacy in your marriage and family by forming this foundation of openness.
Nothing will move mountains in your family and marriage like the power of prayer and Jesus… just Jesus.
Look for teachable moments about prayer. The bible tell us to “Rejoice at all times and pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and ” pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Ephesians 6:18. There are so many moments in your day to teach your children about prayer. Do you see someone in need? Talk about how you pray for others. Is someone sick? Talk about praying for those who are sick. Is your child afraid of the dark? Pray that God would help them not be scared before bedtime. Do you see an accident on the side of the road? Pray for those involved.
Also, if this is an area you are struggling in, you can pray that God would open your eyes to teachable moments for your family. It is amazing to see how many things come in your path if you paying attention.
While everyday moments are key, special occasions also hold great significance. Everyday moments tend to add up to make us who we are and special occasions tend to be carved into our visual memory. I don’t know about you, but I can remember my 16th Birthday, the day I left for college, my graduation day, and special christmas traditions. The special events stick with our memory, so be sure prayer is a part of those special occasions. Think birthdays, holidays, and milestones – make them centered around Christ.
These are just a few ways we are choosing to practice to cultivate a culture of prayer in our family. We have combined different things from each of our families and are crafting our own traditions. It is such a rewarding process and I can’t wait to see how this evolves as our kids grow. We have already begun these steps with Baby Kevin as well. When Brooke was his age, we weren’t sure if it was too early or if what we were doing was working, but now that Brooke is three, we see the benefits. So, I just want to encourage you that the everyday, little things matter.