Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pray Like It All Depends on Prayer

I grew up praying with my family before supper and at bedtime, but most of those prayers were ones that we could easily memorize and recite.  There is nothing wrong with these kinds of prayers, and in fact, they are a wonderful way for children to learn to pray.  In addition, having some prayers that we can go back to when we don't have words of our own are very helpful.

However, at the same time I know a lot of parents who 1) want their children to be comfortable praying and 2) aren't entirely comfortable praying themselves.  (At least not out loud and definitely not in front of others.)

That's why, in this post, I wanted to share a few thoughts about how to get more comfortable praying, along with some creative ways to enter into prayer.  The specific prayer practices come from a book called Heart Ignite, written by Lyle Griner and Diane Monroe.
  1. In order to become more comfortable praying, the most important thing to do is pray.  Do it often and regularly.  As with most things, the more you pray, the more likely it is that you'll get more comfortable praying.
  2. It's also helpful to remember that at its core, prayer is conversation with God.  That means we can talk to God like we would a friend on the phone or by writing something down the same way we'd send an email.  Often, because of the words we hear/say in church, we get to thinking that in order for prayers to be really good, or heard by God, they need to be eloquent and fancy.  This is simply not true.  
  3. Of course, as is the case in any relationship, it's important to not do all of the talking when we pray but to take some time to listen to God too.  To some extent, this kind of takes the pressure off a bit.  It means you don't always have to know what to say.  And though the answer may not come immediately or as you might expect, it's a good habit to ask God questions and for God's guidance in your life.  To that end, if you ask for God's guidance and then try your best to move forward faithfully, you can probably rest assured that you are living in accordance with God's will.
As you can catch me saying in a variety of situations, when it comes to teaching your kids to pray and helping them become comfortable with prayer, the best thing we can do as parents is model praying (imperfectly yet confidently) to them.  So please, to borrow the words of a song I love, "Go out and pray like it all depends on prayer."
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Tell God thanks for the big and the little things.  Ask for God's help with the big and the little things.  Pray in the shower, pray at the dinner table, pray when you are on the road, pray when you get up in the morning, pray before you go to sleep.  Pray when your son is struggling with his spelling words or your child's grandparents are about to leave on a trip.  Pray before your daughter heads out onto the ice or when you're trying to figure out as a family where to go on your next vacation.

No matter how you do it, when or where, my main encouragement and suggestion for those who want to get more comfortable praying is simply: pray.  I am convinced that the more you incorporate prayer as a regular part of your family's daily life, the more natural of a thing it will be for all of you.

And now, without further adieu, here are some ideas of ways to pray that you may not have heard before:

Bubble Gum Prayer- Have each person select a piece of bubble gum from a multi-colored package of gum balls.  Colors often hold reminders of experiences or feelings.  Ask each person to pray for something or someone brought to mind by the color of the bubble gum.  Close with everyone blowing a big bubble for the "Amen."

Bandage Prayer- When a heartfelt concern is expressed about a person who is hurting in some way, say a prayer.  Ask God to give peace and strength in the midst of pain and healing.  Put a bandage on the back of the person's hand as a reminder of the prayers shared.  Or, put a bandage on your hand to remind you to keep praying for that person.

Wink Prayer- When in a restaurant, borrow this idea from 63-year-old Bob: Look up at the ceiling and wink.  It's a great way of acknowledging God's presence in the midst of life's stresses and celebrations. 


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