We know so many of you are desperately in need of an older mama to come alongside you and help you figure out how to love your husband well, serve your children, and take care of the responsibilities that come along with being a woman.
Doesn’t there seem to be a shortage of godly women stepping up to this role? Well, we’ve decided to bring together a team of amazing women willing to share their lives with those of us in the throes of young motherhood.
This week’s Question:
“Our boys are young (under 6) and have trouble being quiet and still when we pray. It’s quite a feat to have the whole family together at the dinner table so when it happens we pray together then as well asat bedtime. I don’t want my kids to see talking to God as a negative thing, but the one old enough to pray aloud doesn’t always want to participate. How can we make family prayer enjoyable for us and pleasing to the Lord?”
Laura Lee Groves
Corporate prayer—praying together as a family or a church—is important. It’s how we “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). It’s an awesome time to show our children that we stand united, as a family, before God. It’s a time to show value for each child, no matter what age. And in that spirit, we moms have to understand where they are. I love that you recognize that talking to God should be a positive thing. So…how do we make prayer positive for our kids?
- I’d say keep family prayer short, tailoring it to the young ones. If you pray with the older ones before bed, you can extend prayer to a time that they’re able to handle.
- Try a time of “popcorn prayer” where everyone pops up with something they want to thank God for or ask for His help with. Mom or Dad can end the session when it’s time.
- Emphasize occasional prayer—petitions sent up on the occasion. I remember a night we found out about the death of a beloved teacher. As we got back into the van, I just said, “Boys, let’s pray for his family right now.” Don’t hesitate to stop anywhere and speak to the Lord. I know I’ve been known to utter, “Lord, help me with these boys” on many occasions! Show them by your model that their Heavenly Father is just a prayer away and cares about everything that touches their lives.
If your boys see your prayer as a joyful, helpful expression, they’ll eventually want to be a part of that. Sometimes, the more we push, the harder they push back. And we don’t want to push them into prayer. Model, encourage, and wait for the Lord to touch their hearts.
And pray for them—for their desire for the good and godly to grow.
Blessings on you for having family dinners! “The table” is a wonderful way of celebrating life together, creating community, and teaching both overtly and covertly. Dinner time with young boys (and not-so-young boys, as well) can be pretty rambunctious. Hang in there—one day your sons will appreciate the effort and understand the value of what you are doing.
Now for the actual prayer time—three things helped with my children:
- One—keep it short and simple. Evaluate your own expectations of this prayer time and make sure they are age appropriate for your boys. The oldest may be a bit intimidated by “adult” prayers.
- Two—remember that there are many ways to pray, and God smiles on all of them. Mix it up a bit. One word prayers of what they are most grateful for that day is an easy way for even the littlest to participate. Naming a favorite thing about Jesus is another. Since God is in every moment of every day, “blessing” their activities and dedicating them to the Lord is another way of keeping them engaged (mine loved the idea of blessing their play time with their friends).
- Three—Scripture tells us of many positions in which to pray, so if the “wiggles and fidgets” are distracting, pray standing up, or kneeling, or even with face to the floor.
The “how” of prayer is less important than the “fact” of prayer. Prayer is the language of the heart, and it takes time to learn a new language. Your consistent modeling over time will teach your children to love prayer better than any specific technique will.