Memory Monday: Teaching Prayer (Ephesians 6:18)

Family prayers at the dinner table lately have gone something like this: “Dear God, thank you for this day, thank you for this food. Amen.” It seems like every meal, this is what our girls pray.

Now, I know that God enjoys hearing the prayers of children, but I think He probably prefers that little thought goes into the fact that we’re talking to Him. Our dinnertime prayers have become habit, but they have not become heartfelt.

And, you know what? This is a failing on my part. I haven’t taught my kids to pray. I thought they would just figure it out on their own, which is silly because Jesus taught His disciples to pray. If He had to teach them, why wouldn’t I have to teach my kids how to pray?

I’m out to change our family’s prayer life. While I want my kids to feel free to talk with God, I don’t want their prayers to become rote.

I want them to talk to God from their hearts.

I want them to know that they can take anything to Him.

I want them to know that He answers prayers.

They aren’t learning that from their current repetitive prayers.

Ephesians 6:18 says “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.” God wants to hear from us. He wants to hear what is on our hearts. He wants to answer “all kinds of prayers and requests.”

So, in our house for the next few weeks, we’re going to consciously be working on prayer. We’re going to learn what God has to say about it and how to pray. We’re going to start being intentional in our prayers and learning that God wants to hear from us all the time. Here are some of the things we’ll be doing.

  • Setting an example. It dawned on me the other day that my kids rarely hear me pray. They don’t have an example to follow because we’re not giving them one. It’s not that I don’t pray during the day, I just don’t do it out loud. When Jesus wanted to teach His disciples how to pray, He prayed an example prayer for them. His disciples heard Him talk to God. I’ll be making a conscious effort to pray out loud when my girls are around.
  • Being intentional in sharing requests. I pray for my kids all the time, but it rarely occurs to me to ask them to pray for me. That’s about to change. We have a new piece of artwork in our house. It’s a painted bulletin board that will hang on the wall. It’s our prayer board. Whenever someone has a prayer request, we’ll be sticking a prayer request on it. Others in the family will read them and pray over them.
  • Praying for others. So many times, my girls’ requests center around themselves. We’re going to start being intentional about praying for others. One night this week at dinner, we’re going to make a list of people we want to pray for. We’ll drop their names in a jar and pull one at every night and pray for them.
  • Keeping track of answered prayers. Learning to pray is easier when we can see how God is answering our prayers. We’ll be keeping a prayer journal where we’ll write down our requests, then write down when God answers them. This will give us a record of how God has worked in our lives and will give my girls a tangible reminder that God does answer prayer.

Prayer is an important thing to teach our kids. It’s the number one way we communicate with God. This summer, the blog will spend a whole week focusing on praying for your kids and teaching them to pray, but we’re going to get started around our house this week because talking to God is too important to put off.

Linking up today with Graceful and The Better Mom.

Memory Monday: Taking a Knee in Prayer (Romans 8:26)

A  little boy got hurt at my daughter’s hockey game on Saturday. It wasn’t serious, but it did cause a stoppage of play during the game. My daughter’s coaches have taught her team that when someone is hurt on the ice, they need to “take a knee.” They all drop to one knee and wait for the coaches and referees to tend to the injured child.

Taking a knee has two purposes. It gets the kids out of the way of the adults who are trying to help the injured child, and it keeps the kids from messing around while there’s an injured child on the ice. When the injured kid gets up, all the kids bang their sticks on the ice in applause and get to their feet.

On the way home from the game, my daughter and I talked about the little boy that got hurt and how well her team did at taking a knee. We also talked about how it’s the perfect time to pray for the injured child. She’s already on her knee, so shooting up a quick prayer shouldn’t be too difficult. Of course, my daughter doesn’t have to be on her knee to pray for someone, but the visual of being on her knee can help remind her of the importance of praying for the situation.

You see, we’re called to intercede for others in prayer — whether it’s a hurt child at a hockey game, a friend who is making poor choices or someone we know that is going through a tough time. God wants us to pray for others. He wants us to follow the example of the Holy Spirit, who intercedes for us.

Romans 8:26 says “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” The Holy Spirit prays for us when we are unable to do it ourselves. He sets the example for intercessory prayer, which just means praying for someone else.

We want our kids to know the importance of praying for others. Pointing out cues that will remind them to pray for others will help them to form a habit of prayer. Use this list to help your kids remember to pray for others. Add your own cues to the list.

  • If your child plays a sport, encourage them to pray for others any time your child is on his knees. If the coach has them take a knee during practice, encourage your child to say a quick prayer for the coach. If they take a knee during the game, ask your child to pray for whatever situation has put him on his knee.
  • Any time you hear ambulance sirens or pass an accident, encourage your child to pray for those in need of assistance.
  • When your child picks up her pencil to take a test, encourage her to pray for the person sitting next to her.
  • Post a list of your child’s friends in his room. Before bed, encourage your child to pray for one child on the list. In the morning, have your child choose another friend for whom to pray.
  • If your child is having trouble with another child at school, encourage her to pray for that child when she puts her hand on the doorknob to head out to school in the morning.
  • As your child is packing his backpack each morning, encourage him to pray for his teacher.

Use the everyday events in your family’s life to encourage your kids to create the habit of praying for others. God wants to hear from us all the time, and He wants us to bring our requests to Him. Forming the habit of continually talking to God throughout the day when our kids are young, gives them a firm foundation in their relationship with Him that will carry through for the rest of their lives.

What prayer cues can you encourage your kids to use to remind them to pray for others?

As a thank you for stopping by, don’t forget to check out the Free Stuff tab to find the list of 10 Ways You Can Use Valentine’s Day to Teach Your Kids About God. Tell your friends. It’s only available until Feb. 1.

Linking up today with These Five of Mine Plus Two and A Better Mom.