This week we received the newest book by Max and Denalyn Lucado Lucado Treasury of Bedtime Prayers. As I flipped through the different prayers for children, a moment came back to me. I remember it so vividly.. the day my children stood hand in hand in the garage praying for me. This is a true story. One sunny afternoon, the kids and I came home from the grocery store. My oldest child, who was maybe nine or 10-years-old at the time, was the first person in the house as the rest of us gathered the groceries out of the car. Next thing I know he was running out screaming, “Mom! There’s a snake in the house!”
I mean. Really? A snake?
I ran in the house and caught the tail end (literally) of a snake slithering under the door of our coat closet. Slowly, I walked back outside and told the kids, “Stay out here. I need to get the snake out of the house.” In reality, I had no plans to get the snake out myself. Are you CRAZY?! I called my husband at work and he explained to me, “It’s probably a garden snake and you’ll be fine to get it out yourself.”
So, I called my dad in a panic. He was also grocery shopping. He and my mother stranded their grocery cart and arrived within minutes to rescue me. I walked into the garage to check on the kids and there they were…. hand in hand praying out loud, “God protect my mom. Keep her safe. Don’t let that snake bite her.”
In all actuality it WAS just a tiny garden snake and posed no threat to my family. The beautiful part about it was how my children, not knowing how to help or what to do, knew there is only One who COULD help. There is only One who DOES hear our prayers. The one and true God. It would be easy for me to pat myself on the back and say, “I’m doing a pretty good job here with these kiddos.” The reality, however, is instilling prayer early in childhood is very difficult. We still struggle at having quiet time with God. We, often, forget to pray in the good and happy times, not just the fearful times. We get stuck in a routine of saying Grace at the table, but rushing through it because our stomach is growling. So, this blog post is not about how YOU can do a better job, but more of a reminder to me to keep at it every day. Children get busy, distracted, and lazy at times. We must be the ‘constant’ in their lives and teach them to pray every day.
- Pray for them: Seems simple enough, right? Each day I pray God will draw my children close. I pray they see that a personal relationship with God is real and His guidance is true.
- Pray with them: Since they were babies, I prayed with them. They hear my words. They take comfort in the sound of praises. They feel Gods presence and understand there is hope in all circumstances.
- Bless the food: This has been one of the easiest ways to routinely pray. We eat every day as a family. Someone has got to bless the food. I did it for a long time. As soon as I felt the kids were confident enough, I allowed one of them to lead us in prayer. Some days it’s a short, “Thank you for this food, Amen.” Other days, it’s long as they pray over our home, our family, our friends, and our food.
- Prayer Request Box: We have a prayer request box. The day gets so busy that we might forget what God placed on our heart at that moment. So, we write it down right then and place it in the box. Or, maybe, there are times my children want me to pray for something or someone, but are too embarrassed to tell me directly. This has been the case as they get older. The Prayer Request Box has been a great way to keep prayer on their minds.
- Family Prayer Board: We want to pray for each other directly, but sometimes we don’t know what to pray for. On our dry erase calendar we leave space for family prayers. For instance, “Zach is taking the SAT Saturday. Pray God will ease his anxiety. Pray for strength, wisdom, and patience.”
- Devotion time: We are very blessed to have an amazing Children’s Pastor at our church in Baytown. She has really encouraged our children to have private time with God through devotions. This is not something I do with my kids, but something THEY do with God. It helps them develop and learn how to have personal quiet time. For older children, devotions can be longer, but for younger kids it’s best to keep it kind of short. My 2nd grader usually has a scripture verse he reads (and tries to memorize throughout the week), a few questions he answers, and a fun activity towards the end like “find the secret word.” This also helps children learn how to navigate the books of the Bible on their own.
- Keep track: It’s pretty amazing to see God answer your prayer in real life. Keeping a prayer log shows children just how powerful and constant our God can be in our lives. It’s really simple. Write down your prayer request and date you prayed it. Keep an open space for the day God answers it. Then write it down when He does. It’s really cool for children to see those prayers answered.
- Personal journal writing: This is for the older children. My daughter keeps a prayer journal where she writes down her prayers and how why she’s praying them. She writes down her frustrations and her heartbreak, but she also writes down her joy and her sense of security knowing God is listening. I know, for me, writing is very therapeutic and writing to God is even more calming.
- Draw pictures: For the younger children who aren’t strong in their writing skills yet, picture drawing is great. Instead of writing to God, draw to Him. Help children draw out their prayers, label them, and keep them in a safe private place.
- Use resources: Younger children might not know what to pray for or how to pray. We have a variety of books we’ve used over the years, but one recent book I recommend is Lucado Treasury of Bedtime Prayers by Max Lucado and his wife Denalyn. This is a book of prayers your kids can read, eventually memorize, and recite when they are at a loss for words during prayer time. There is also an introduction on how parents can instill a love of prayer. It teaches kids ALL the things they can pray for including: family, friends, planning the day, when they or a loved one is sick, on special days, when they’re scared, or even when the weather is frightful (lifting up prayers for all of our friends up north dealing with the #BlizzardOf2015).
Buy It: Lucado Treasury of Bedtime Prayers is on sale starting today, January 27th. Find it at bookstores nationwide or on ThomasNelson.com for the suggested retail price of $19.99. Deal Alert: Lucado Treasury of Bedtime Prayers: Prayers for bedtime and every time of day! can also be found on Amazon.com for $15.78.
Sara Patterson has been blogging since 2007, but took a break for a couple years to tackle the world of news. She was the Social Media Director for a Houston based market 10 news station for over 2 years, but decided it was time to go back to her roots as a parenting blogger so she can spend more time with her family. Follow her personal Twitter account @SocialNewsSara or blogging account @Family_Appeal.
Disclosure: Opinions, stated, are always my own and never wavered by products received nor compensated unless, otherwise, stated. I received a copy of the book to write this post. Family Appeal is an Amazon affiliated site. Purchases made through links found here will result in small compensation to the site owner.
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