Not much past her fourth birthday, her arms open wide, eyes closed and with such evident joy, she prayed. What a precious experience to join her in our Heavenly Father’s presence and confidently relish His loving approval. Such a simple routine, it remains a profound experience.
For the believer, prayer is like breathing…absolutely essential to life. Why, then, does prayer seem to be relegated to a last labored resort? Is it possible to make changes in family life to turn this around? I believe it is.
Paul wrote, “Always maintain the habit of prayer: be both alert and thankful as you pray.” (Colossians 4:2) Here are four commands for Christians: 1) Make prayer a part of all life, all the time. 2) Cultivate prayer until it becomes a habit. 3) Keep your awareness sharp for the need to pray. 4) Remember the attitude of expressing gratitude toward God.
Every parent has cared for children sick with head colds. We know what it’s like to deal with runny noses and labored breathing. We don’t ignore the symptoms and hope the disease will just disappear. The same is true for maintaining spiritual health. Unfortunately, many of today’s children are being raised by adults handicapped because they themselves were not raised to be alert and grateful in their prayer life.
On a happier note, the younger the child, the more likely it is that he will pray quite naturally, without a lot of coaching. Still, we need to keep those spiritual windows to our children’s souls open as they grow up.
Begin now by letting God reveal natural “prayer points” in the everyday rhythms of your life and build these into habits. Consider waking your kids and starting the day with them by prayer. Of course, you’re most likely to pray before you eat meals together. Consider praying with your kids before they leave the house, or car, on their way to school. Build prayer into bedtime rituals. Naturally turn to God in prayer for wisdom and reconciliation as children learn to love one another in the safety of their home environment.
Build regular times of corporate prayer with your children bringing to the Father extended family members, people with special needs, missionaries, and vulnerable children in tragic situations. And, of course, don’t forget to join others to pray for your children so they will bring salt and light into their particular relationships and responsibilities.
What do they find challenging or frightening? What brings them happiness? For instance, have you ever thought of praying before you switch on the TV or the computer games for your kids as they settle down for a “meal” for their minds and souls? Can you honestly give thanks to the Father for what you are about to feed them?
What have you found that insures this amazing privilege of communication with our Father is not overlooked? We’d be grateful if you’d share this with us.