on “family prayers”

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.

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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.

lord's prayer

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.

How about you? How do you help your kids to pray?

Would love to hear your ideas, and your journey too…let’s learn together.

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13 thoughts on “on “family prayers”

  1. Thanks for the shout out Anna. I’m still trying to work out wordpress (i.e. I don’t know how to share your posts yet!) but I’ll get there I’m sure. I’ve found your blogs to be so helpful for our family!

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  2. Journey shall begin soon! Your posts helps in pre-journey preparation. We often talk about the “Culture” we want to have as a family. Love your posts Anna; & just seeing how you live out Family; the biggest mission field according to me. Thanks for sharing once more!

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    • Do you mean by this that you and Saroj are having a baby?!! That’s very exciting, if so. Thanks for your encouragement. Funny thing is, so much of what I learnt about “family” is from my time in India. Working with DYC and with you all there really helped me cement and think through “what are my values” as a follower of Jesus, and how will I live those out. Blessings on you all at DYC, you’re doing some great work!

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  3. Love this and love you guys and love that I’ve learned to pray with you. Must say I’m surprised there’s nothing in here about how secrets get revealed through the kids’ prayers though! 😉

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  4. Love this Anna! One thing we’re trying at the moment (we have one 16 month old little girl) is a family teeth brushing slot before we all go out to work or nursery. We all stand around the sink and pray/babble/gurgle out loud things we’re thankful for and things we want to ask Jesus for help with in our day. And now we’ve just discovered play doh I reckon there’s a whole load of creative prayer potential just waiting to happen!

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  5. Thanks, Anna. This whole article was inspirational and gets me thinking of new ideas to try with our family. I especially love the point that learning to pray is like learning a language. There’s listening and practice and more and more prayer comes from watching/hearing others pray over time.

    One thing that works fairly well for us…most school mornings, while my 3 girls are eating, I read the daily thought/verses from the kids version of “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young. Then I ask them what they heard God saying to them. That simple question has produced some great learning on their part–and mine–and a good way to start the day in prayer and thoughts focused on God together!

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    • Thanks Lanny. Love your idea of reading those thoughts/verses to your kids and then asking them what they heard God saying. It’s so easy for our kids to just hear bible stories but not actually hear what God wants to say to them or how it makes a difference in their lives. Really helpful and practical suggestion – thanks!

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