In my humble opinion, prayer time with God is an intimate time. It is really hard for me to pray out loud about things in my life around others. Now if I am praying for or over someone else, that is a little different story. With that said, when I pray with my children, it is somewhat of an intimate time and can be intimidating, even for me….who am I kidding it is very intimidating because I know that I am setting the example for these two boys.
I say all that to say this, we are setting the example for our children in everything we do….even our prayer life. They see what we do and what we don’t do and mimic what we do and what we don’t do. For years, I have prayed alone when no one was around. If someone was around, I prayed in my head, not out loud. I think that is a fine way to pray, God still hears us. However, guess who doesn’t hear us…our children. How I know? Mine gave me a reality check not that very long ago. I was talking to them about prayer and fasting because that was coming up at church. I said that we were going to start praying in the morning on the way to school, together. They looked at me like I had 3 heads. Their response was, “You mean like we did when you worked in Ste. Gen.?” “No, boys, I mean a heart felt prayer, not just one written down that you recite.” was my response. Which was immediately followed by, “Huh, how do we do that? What do you mean exactly?”. Let me say, I was more than a little taken back. You see, I have taken them to church for years. They have seen how others in church pray and I believed they were getting the life lessons I wanted them to get. After deep conversation about what they thought prayer was and how they were supposed to pray, I come to the conclusion that it was me they were confused by. Yes, all that I thought was true about what they were getting at church, however, they rarely saw or heard me pray so they didn’t think I prayed. My bad, slap my hand and put me in the corner…. problem solved immediately or so I thought.
Side Note: I say this all the time but, I will say this again because it is so true and important, the moment you step into what God has called you to do or try to lead someone else (anyone for that matter, but especially your children) into what God wants for them…. you can expect an attack. Almost immediately, I became very self conscious of my prayers. It became hard for me to pray with my children. Now these are the same boys that I have prayed with at the dinner table, that I have prayed with at bed time, etc but I suddenly become almost ill when it came to praying with them on the way to school each morning, I am embarrassed to even admit that but I also know that this is for someone reading this. Don’t give up! Press on! You are not the only one facing this battle! You are an overcomer!!! Don’t let the enemy win! He comes only to steal, kill, and destroy (see John 10:10 in any translation)!!!
So here we go, we are praying each morning on the way to school. Some mornings in my brain fog from just getting up, we might forget but let me tell you after a couple of days it becomes a habit and your children will remind you.
When to pray with your children? That’s easy, right…all the time. Well, life happens and it is not always easy to fit it in the schedule. So, think about times when you are together and there isn’t a whole lot going on. For example on the way to school, maybe on the way home from school (or both), while waiting for the bus to come, on the way to insert sport practice….the list could be endless.
How to pray? My best advice….make it heart felt. Whatever is on your and their hearts. I have each one of the boys pray first then I pray. It does not have to be long, ours is about 8 minutes total. It doesn’t have to have certain words (Dear God and Amen are nice but not necessary). I have a friend that I shared this story with and she said that she knows a little girl that starts out her prayers with “Hey Dad”. Now that is an intimate relationship. I try to not judge or censure my children’s prayers. Although I will make some small suggestions, I do so cautiously and in a way that is just a suggestion. I never want them to be afraid of how to pray. Again, I will go back to my “Grace vs Perfection” post, it doesn’t have to be perfect….
Lastly, again I say children mimic what we do. If we are strong prayer warriors they will be also. Children’s prayers will be different depending on their ages. If they are young you may have to lead them, have them repeat what you are saying, As they get older, their prayer lives grow. I can promise that as their prayer lives grow….so will yours.
Scriptures to support:
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV)
“Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.” Jeremiah 29:12 (NKJV)
“Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you will receive them, and you will have them.” Mark 11:24 (NKJV)
“Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:19 & 20 (NKJV)
Armor of God Prayer –
There are times that I have the boys pray this prayer. Especially when I feel it is going to be hard day. This is one that someone else has written and I have printed out. But basically it is Ephesians 6:10 – 20.
This is an example of the Armor of God Prayer that the boys read some mornings. Again, this is not my work, I can’t take any of the credit.
Would love to hear your thoughts on how/when you pray with your children.