As Christians, prayer is an essential element of our faith and I am sure it is something we all long to incorporate into our daily lives and model for and impart to our children. And yet as parents, it can be hard to know how to do this best or to find the time to do so, especially in this season of COVID-19 when many of us find ourselves overwhelmed and juggling more than ever before.
It is super helpful to create simple rhythms of prayer. Identify moments throughout the day when you know you have time and establish a habit of prayer. Perhaps you pray together each morning over breakfast and each night before the kids go to bed, creating bookends to your day and teaching your kids to bring all of their life before the Lord...all that is to come and all that has been.
In the list below, we wanted to provide some ideas of how to incorporate prayer into our family rhythms and lives in simple and sustainable ways. We hope that this will lift some of the burden and spark your imagination to start or grow prayer in your family life.
Try reading a short kid-friendly or family devotional over breakfast each morning and end with a short prayer in response. Many devotionals have suggested prayers included or you could make up your own. For younger children, try reading the prayer and having them repeat it after you. For older kids, have them take turns reading the devotional or leading the prayer. A couple of our family’s favorites are “Indescribable” and “How Great Is Our God” which incorporate interesting science facts.
Try using liturgical prayers and set prayers for these times of habitual prayer. These can help to give you and them both rich words and truth to think about as you all speak them to the Lord.
A blessing prayed over your kids is a wonderful way to end their day. Try a familiar passage like Numbers 6:24-26, “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
If you have multiple children, encourage them to pray for one another if one of them is sick or hurt or nervous about something. This encourages dependency and vulnerability with God and with one another and can help build a supportive family culture as well.
Make and use prayer sticks. Get some popsicle sticks, paint them, and then use a Sharpie to write the names of the people you want to be praying for regularly or even specific situations or things for which you are asking God. Keep these in a small pot on your dining room table and get each person to draw one out and pray about it at dinner or whenever is most convenient for your family rhythms.
Choose a regular time each week, perhaps on a sabbath or weekend mealtime, when you can go around the family and each reflect on and pray very short prayers of thanksgiving. At Donum Dei, we like to do this with our students and we encourage them to be as specific as possible and really be mindful of what there is to thank God for that week.
For families with younger kids, start a family prayer journal and/or a gratitude journal. Write down things that you are praying for as a family and make a point of talking about and thanking God for any prayers that He answers. Perhaps you write down one thing each that you are grateful for and want to thank God for each day/week. These can be a great source of encouragement to look back on.
For families with older kids, encourage them to start their own prayer journal and/or gratitude journal. They could write down their own prayer requests or things they are grateful for each day or each week. If they love writing, you could also encourage them to journal their thoughts and feelings and to end each entry with a short written prayer in response to how they are feeling. This can be a great way of encouraging and developing real connection and vulnerability with the Lord.
If you have slightly longer chunks of time, you could try reading and even memorizing a passage of Scripture together. We love putting the verse to a tune to help us memorize it! Take time to talk about it and pray a prayer in response to what you have read or heard. Here are some specific ideas: Read Psalm 103:8 and reflect on a simple truth about the Lord, then praise God for who He is. Read Colossians 3:12-14 and reflect on our identity in God or the character He wants to form in us and for us to live by. Ask the Holy Spirit to remind us of who we are and enable us to live according to His truth by His strength. Read Matthew 6:9-13, then talk and pray through the Lord’s prayer, expanding each line with specific prayers on the point.
If you can find slightly longer times to spend in prayer together, even just on the odd occasion, teach them to listen to the Lord when they pray as well. Teach them to take a few moments in silence and stillness. Start very short if you have young, wriggly pre-schoolers or elementary school kids! Slowly increase the time as they get used to it. Encourage them to ask the Holy Spirit to speak to them and to listen expectantly and practice sharing with one another anything they felt God impress upon them in that time.
Come, Learn More!
We invite you to discover if Donum Dei Classical Academy is the right fit for your family. Join us at our next Information Session to learn more about our mission to nourish students’ hearts, souls, minds, and bodies for the purpose of growing in them knowledge, wisdom, good character, and Christ-like virtue worthy of bringing glory to our great God -- click HERE to register.