A few people have recently asked us about our family prayer rhythm so I thought it might be useful to share our process and journey here. There’s always a tension for me in sharing this kind of stuff publicly. I hope you hear my heart here – I don’t share this to infer that we’re doing anything special. We’re not. My heart, and hope, is that this may be helpful for others who are trying to go on a similar journey to us. What I intend to share here is our journey, incomplete and imperfect as it is. If this is unhelpful for you, or if it doesn’t resonate with the journey that you are on, then feel free to click away to somewhere else…..
So this was the thing….
About 2 years ago Rich and I were talking about how we wanted prayer to be something that we grew together in as a family. We took some time to reflect and discuss on how we wanted it to look for our family, and how we wanted to grow. We didn’t want anything to feel like a heavy burden. We wanted a rhythm and routine that was simple, regular, and easy to follow-through.
And this was the plan….
So the plan we came up with is that we would all be dressed, and adults would be caffeined-up, by 7.00 a.m so that we had until 7.30 to pray before breakfast.
And this is how it worked out….
We’ve tried out a few things but over the months we’ve created a simple structure, which the kids are able to communicate to any visitor in our home. We begin by each of us saying what we’re thankful for and then saying what or who we’d like to pray for. We then read a small portion of scripture either from an adult orr kids bible and then we get praying. To help the kids we talk about saying “thank-you” prayers and “please” prayers which can just be one-liners. We start with thanking God for who He is – His character. Some of my favourite one-liners from the kids:
“ Thank you God that you’re king of kings and lord of lords”
“Thank you that you care for the rich and the poor”
“Thank you that you’re the shepherd of the sheep”
“Thank you God for being with me all the time”
And then we talk about our one-liner please prayers:
“Please help me in the playground”
“Please heal Samuel’s tummy”
“Please help me to be kind
“Please help x to have a good day.”
We’ve tried to do this step-by-step: first learning how to thank God, and then learning how to ask God. The next thing I’d like us to grow in together is “listening” – making space together to hear what God is saying.
We generally pray in this rhythm Monday-Thursday each week. On Fridays we pray like this over breakfast using our prayer and thanksgiving spoons. You can read a post on the spoon of thanksgiving here.
On Mondays our core 3dm team join us for prayer (either in person or by skype), followed by breakfast together.
And this is why we needed some routine….
I would naturally always prefer spontaneity over routine but what I’ve learnt is that spontaneity can be forgotten, overlooked, or side-lined whereas routine creates patterns and easy access points both for the kids, and other adults to join us.
Routines mean that when the alarm goes off at 6.15 I’m not thinking “shall we or shall we not pray today?” quickly followed by a hit on the snooze button.
Routine means that if Rich and I happen to overlay then the kids will be in our room telling us that it’s time to pray.
And this is what we’ve noticed….
Interestingly, this simple routine has been a foundation for prayer at other times in the day. The kids are learning to pray and talk to their father in the morning. They’re listening to the adults and joining in with short and simple prayers. But it’s often in the more spontaneous times that I notice that they’re growing in faith and in prayer. So, it may be when someone has hurt themselves, or at bedtime or some other point in the day, that they spontaneously pray for each other or someone else. They’ve been listening to us pray in the morning and then are putting it into practice at another point in the day.
I guess it’s a bit like learning a language. When we first learn a language we’re usually able to understand a lot more than we’re able to verbalise. But, over time, the more we listen and observe, the more we’re eventually able to speak and communicate. I think it’s the same with prayer. As our kids regularly hear us as parents, each other, and other adults pray, they are learning how to talk and listen to their father.
And finally, a few practicalities….
These are our simple boundaries for prayer time:
- No toys in hands
- No talking to each other when we’re praying.
- Children sit on an adults lap if possible.
All these boundaries just help the kids to focus.
P.S our friend Katherine Lockwood has recently started a blog and I’ve just noticed that she’s written a really helpful post on their family prayers too. You can read it here.