Time to Pray

There’s never been a better time to build your prayer life and help your kids do the same.  Do you feel uncertain of how to pray? Scared to pray out loud?  Here’s good news: prayer is simple, easy, and God is ready to listen and connect with you.  Check this out:

I love the Lord because he hears my voice
and my prayer for mercy.
 Because he bends down to listen,
I will pray as long as I have breath! 
Psalm 116:1-2

God hears your voice!  The Almighty bends down to listen!  What an enormous gift.  So where do you and your kids begin?

Make a Habit

We are creatures of habit, and prayer is no exception.  Perhaps you already pray before a meal or at bedtime.  Those are the most natural and memorable times for our family!  But you could also make a habit of praying before starting school or work, on the drive, or walking Fido. It really helps to have these regular times with God in the daily routine.  Then add spontaneous prayers into your day as feelings and needs arise.

Oldies but Goodies

Should prayers be recited word-for word or ad-libbed from the heart?  Well, both.  For millennia, the Psalms have been prayed and re-prayed, teaching humans the language of connecting with God. Psalms express a wild variety of emotion, from gratitude to praise to anger, lament, and hope. Further, Jesus gave us a prayer to recite in what’s called “The Lord’s Prayer” or the “Our Father,” found in Matthew 6:9 and Luke 11:2.  Though he wasn’t saying we should only and always pray that exact prayer, I find comfort in praying the Lord’s Prayer regularly to know that I’m praying about what really matters to God and not just my “need” for great parking spots.

My kids naturally gravitate toward reciting memorized prayers.  My 8-year-old still prefers to use the rhyming prayer he learned in preschool when it’s his turn to pray at the dinner table.  My 10-year-old, at bed time, says 90 percent the same thing every night.  I find that when I pray for my kids before bed, I have some often-repeated lines like, “Fill him with your love and your truth” or “Please forgive us for our sins and help us walk in your ways.”  We repeat what matters most.  Just be careful that you don’t fall into such a rut that you are mentally and emotionally checking out.  God has given believers his Spirit to be personally connected with Him – so we don’t want to turn prayer into a thoughtless ritual.

Mix it Up & Pray from the Heart

If we only recited prayers, we’d miss the chance to let God know exactly what’s on our hearts.  When we pray in our own words, we can get right to the point of how we’re feeling and what we need.  And while the Psalms have godly perspective on God, life, suffering, and hope, they don’t mention Aunt Susie’s need for a job or neighbor Jesse’s upsetting diagnosis.  So, we also need to be like the Apostle Paul – regularly praying by name for the people in our lives.

This week, let me encourage you to pray. You don’t have to use fancy words that sound like you’ve been to Bible college.  God wants us to have faith like a child – so just pray simply and be yourself.  Make a habit, recite an old prayer (and mean it), and pour out your heart to God in your own words.  Pray on your own and with your kids.  Remember Jesus’ words from John 15:5: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”