Praying as a family can be much more than a bedtime ritual.
Praying as a family can be much more than a bedtime ritual.
Gather together and make family prayer dynamic to build strong bonds and weave faith into daily life. Psalm 35:10 exclaims, “Oh Lord, who is like you?” (ESV). God had the Israelites make booths as part of the celebration of Booths or Tabernacles. Solomon sweated as he offered many sacrifices (2 Chronicles 1:6). They involved their whole bodies in worship and prayer. Let your family prayer involve body, mind, and spirit. The acrostic G-R-O- W can help guide us in how and why we should pray together.
G for Gather and Pray
Come together and start talking to God.
Use what grabs the interests of your children, such as a ball. Toss the ball up and say, “We looked up to watch the ball. We start prayer with looking to God and praising Him.”
Bounce the ball and chat about how we hit bottom when we sin, but God forgives us, and we joyfully bounce back up.
Let’s ask for forgiveness.
If you hurt a family member, also say you are sorry. Roll the ball and chat about how God is always with us no matter where we roll along in life. Thank God for His presence. Continue using the ball and relating the motions to prayer.
You can also pray for one another in a simple way called POW-WOWS. That means to Pray over worries and worship over wonders.
Let one person name a worry and a praise or blessing. The person to the right then says a one-sentence prayer for help with the worry and one-sentence praise for the wonder. Short prayers help children stay focused and make it easier for them to pray. Continue until everyone has a turn. It’s amazing how praying for another person evokes concern for the person’s problem and helps them celebrate the joys.
R is for Rejoice
Celebrate answered prayer and praise God.
Note any answered prayer and thank God for those. Blow kisses to God as part of thanking Him. Make it more fun with thanking God for a praise and blowing bubbles into the sky.
Keep a family prayer journal to list prayer needs and check off answers.
Review the journal at times to notice all the prayers God answered, and also note times you waited on God’s timing. Celebrate answers with decorating stones as Ebenezer stones (1 Samuel 7). Ebenezer means stone of help, and celebrated God giving the Israelites victory.
Children can pick them up anytime and thank God for the answers.
Chat about the joy inside your heart that makes you feel close to Jesus even when things go wrong. That’s because we can trust Him and know just as He answered other prayers, He will continue to answer prayers and be with us no matter what happens.
O is for Open Hearts and Minds
Let prayer be a time of unity without criticism.
God loves us all. When you are accepting of what everyone shares, children open up more. They share problems. It’s a time to remember you are all talking to God. It’s also a time to investigate prayer and chat about questions children ask about prayer.
Children are curious and ask many questions.
Rather than pat answers, explore together. When they want to know why God takes so long to answer prayers, you can talk about readiness.
Put out all the ingredients to make cookies or other food. Ask if they prefer to just eat the ingredients so there’s no wait time. They will not like that idea and better understand we and situations have to be ready for God to answer.
Or, ask if they can teach a newborn baby to ride a bicycle. That can bring laughter as babies don’t have long enough legs to reach pedals, balance to sit on the seat, or ability to pedal. They are not ready. God knows when we are ready for answers, so we need to trust His timing.
Look up times God let people keep praying and trusting and times God answered fast (Nehemiah 1:1, 2:1, 2:4-8; Genesis 12:1-2, 15:18-21, 18:10, 21:1). Read what Jesus said about pray and where and when He prayed (Hebrews 5:7, Luke 6:12-13, 22:31-3, John 6:11, Matthew 6:9-11). Seeing how God answered in the Bible and tracking how God interacts in your lives builds faith.
W is for Weave Your Family Prayer Time Into Daily Life
Deuteronomy 6:7-10 reminds us that God wants to be involved in our lives.
Let prayer and sharing faith be part of your ordinary days as well as special times. Make your doorway a prayer-way. In going or coming pray for safety, and thank God for the opportunities both to go, and stay home to be with family.
Call out a praise to God when you are blessed and pray over anyone who is hurt or facing a challenge. Pray at meals, bedtime, rising up, and anytime. Relate prayer answers and what God showed you today that brought a new lesson. It might be a lesson from nature, words spoken, or the circumstances God allowed for you to see something in a new way.
Genesis 45:5-8 shows us how Joseph knew God was with him and guided him in all circumstances. James 1:5 reminds us that God responds and gives us wisdom when we ask.
Make some prayer maps that show how God, and His Holy Spirit, has guided your life. Draw a timeline and add in times of changes and prayer answers that illustrate God was with you.
When prayer is part of life it will be natural for children to pray and share their faith.
The Institute of Family Studies senior fellow W. Bradford Wilcox with Nicholas Wolfinger concluded “shared prayer is the most powerful predictor of relationship quality among black, Latino, and white couples, more powerful than denomination, religious attendance, or shared religious friendships.”
Another study revealed that prayer benefits the whole family in many of the same ways it benefits couples who pray together. Prayer helps family members address stress and reduce tensions in relationships. Family prayer also builds stronger bonds, develops a sense of family unity, and carries faith into adulthood.
Choose to pray as a family regularly.
© 2023 Karen Whiting. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.