If a quiet time/devotion time were a cinnamon roll, prayer might be the gooey delicious center. That’s where we diving into today. Prayer is an outflow of a healthy quiet time, so today I’m sharing some excerpts from the prayer section in “Bloom,” along with additional thoughts not featured in the book.
I remember when I first started praying regularly on my own. We of course prayed at meals and at church, but I had yet to tap into my own prayer life.
I was almost ten, and my grandpa was in the hospital. I remember being prompted that I should pray for him, and as I began to do that, the Lord brought other people to mind that needed prayer. That discipline of prayer has evolved over the years, but it’s now a habit that I begin and end each day with prayer, with lots of little prayers in between.
But there was a lot I didn’t understand about prayer in the beginning. For example, my list of people I was praying for became so long I’d often fall asleep before the end, but then I’d experience guilt for not finishing. I thought I had to keep up this long laundry list of prayers going before the Lord.
Prayer to kids can be confusing and overwhelming (and let’s face it, for us adults too), so today we are going to be walking through some easy points to explain prayer to the kids in your life.
We understand that prayer is a conversation between God and his kids. Just us talking to God. As you have this conversation with your kid, draw the comparison between how you two are sitting there talking, and prayer. Both of you will talk. God is always listening. You don’t have to use a lot of words, pray in a specific place and you definitely don’t have to employ fancy words. I know that those facts would’ve been reassuring to me as a kid, that God doesn’t expect me to talk like an adult to him, that he would understand me just as I was. And the same will be reassuring for your kids.
The Lord’s Prayer
Another way to engage your kids in the practice of prayer is to encourage them to memorize the Lord’s prayer, and maybe take the opportunity to refresh yourself on it. As you read the passage, found in Matthew 6, point out that you don’t have to say those exact words, but that the position of the heart is a pattern to follow.
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be the name.” We start off by acknowledging who God is and his power.
“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” We also acknowledge that it’s his plan that will prevail.
“Give us today our daily bread.” We ask him to meet our needs.
“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Here we ask for forgiveness while also practicing forgiveness with those in our lives.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” And we ask for his help in resisting temptations.
The petitions lifted to God mirror the needs in our own lives today. Help them see that no need is too small or too big to pray about. For instance, moving up in Sunday school, meeting a new teacher, or standing up for themselves may not seem like a big deal to us, but it can be a huge deal to them. Set an example of lifting those needs to the Lord.
A Prayer Journal
Prayer journals can also an important part of prayer life. I started journaling when my cousin gave me one for Christmas in 2004. Recorded all throughout my journals are prayers and struggles I’ve walked through the past 12 years, and whenever God answers a need, I make sure to record the answer. Whenever I’m walking through a trial, I write down how I’m feeling and what I’m learning. It helps me process what I’m going through in the moment, and it serves as an encouragement years down the road.
Seeing years of answered prayer is a faith builder, no doubt about it. And some past entries make me laugh out loud. The point is we serve a faithful God! He is ready and waiting to listen to us and to answer our prayers.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” Matthew 7: 7-8
Help your kids select a special notebook or journal so they can began writing, or even drawing, out their prayer and praises to God. Encourage them to also take notes in church in it. Whatever you choose, keep it simple, but make it special. This isn’t about making a wish list and sending it up to God. Talk through with your kids that as you spend more time with him, you begin to desire what he wants, so your prayers more and more will line up with his will.
Above all, cast the vision that you don’t have to pray in the same place or even at the same time every day. God knows that prayer keeps us connected to him, so he wants us to learn to pray so that we keep our hearts turned toward Him.
I love this perspective from John MacArthur from his book “Alone with God.”
For Christians, prayer is like breathing. You don’t have to think to breathe because the atmosphere exerts pressure on your lungs and forces you to breathe…Similarly, when you’re born into the family of God, you enter into a spiritual atmosphere wherein God’s presence and grace exert pressure, or influence, on your life. Prayer is the normal response to that pressure.
I’ve been walking with God for 22 years now, and that’s the first time I’ve heard prayer described in quite that way. But it makes total sense, and I can assure you that the lung analogy will resonate with kids as well.
Just like with the quiet time, kids will pick up on your attitude toward prayer. If you pray out loud and with your kids regularly, it will seem as natural as breathing to them. If you rarely pray out loud, throughout the day, or with them, how will they know what to do? How will they know what a prayer life should look like? So whether you buy them a prayer journal, or pray out loud with them for a friend, a family member or at bed time for the first time, the time is now to model a prayer life to your kids.
Enjoy this post? Check out the first in the series here.
For my content like this, my devotion book “Bloom” is coming out November 15. Sign up below to stay updated!