Yesterday, while I ate eggs and toast with my boys at the table, I asked them a simple question:
How often do you pray and talk to God?
We’d been reading through our copy of (affiliate link) Laying the Foundation, a study on the Apostle’s Creed, specifically about how God has adopted us into His family as sons, when the question of prayer came up. I was a little shocked by their answers.
“I usually just pray to God when I need something.”
“How do I talk to God when He’s not [physically] there. It feels silly.”
Ouch. Those are some honest, but hard answers. I’m glad my boys communicate openly with me, but their answers made it quite obvious that I have some work to do in this vital area.
They need to feel that God is near and real and worth talking to, and prayer is the way to do that. Thankfully, I just happen to be pretty good at that (wink, wink).
Teaching Boys to Pray
Praying on the hours is a habit of mine during the more chaotic seasons of life. Sometimes, I get so busy that I forget I have access to the God of the universe all day long, so this practice keeps me connected when life wants to pull me away. After my discussion with my boys, I decided I wanted to pull them into the habit, too.
It’s a great way to train them to think about, and connect with God throughout their days. I want Him at the forefront of their minds all the time, so that when temptations come, they’ll go to Him for their strength. Here’s how it works:
1. Set the alarm on your phone to go off every hour.
I say phone because most people have one. If you need to use something else, like your oven timer, that will work just as well. I have my own quiet time in the morning before my boys get up, so I set my alarm for the first time for 8:00 AM. That’s when my boys get up. They come straight downstairs and curl up in my lap. What a great time to ask the Lord to join us in our day.
2. Make your prayer short.
The point of this exercise is to remind you that God is there, and help you focus your mind and heart on Him throughout the day. If you go on and on praying, it won’t be sustainable, particularly with young children. Their minds can’t stay focused as long as yours, so keep it short, to the point, and then move on.
3. Set the tone by praying out loud.
It’s important that our children hear us pray out loud so that they’ll know how to do it. Don’t worry about modeling perfection, just show your kids a mom who loves Jesus with heartfelt words and you’ll be fine.
4. As soon as you’re done praying, set your alarm for the next hour.
This is really important, because if you forget, you’ll lose your whole day. Life happens and distractions come, and several hours later you’ll look at the clock and think, “good grief, I haven’t prayed all day!”
5. Don’t stress the misses.
My boys will be away from me one entire day this week, so I won’t be able to lead them in this exercise that day. I plan to encourage them to keep going, but I won’t stress over a missed day. We’ll just pick back up the next day and keep doing the best we can. God doesn’t expect perfection or a legalistic perspective that says, “I have to check this off my list!” He just wants to connect with our hearts, and talk to us throughout the day.
How fun would it be if a bunch of us decided to do this together?
If you think this could be a good fit for your family, commit to praying on the hours with me for the rest of the month. We’ll use the hashtag #PrayOnTheHours and we can all check in every night on Twitter and Facebook! What do you think?
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