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?
Tell us in the comments if you’re joining, and let’s get started! If you’re so inclined, tweet about it and encourage others to join! (click this link to tweet!)
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I love this idea! I literally just asked on a moms group page yesterday, “how do you teach your kids to pray throughout the day?” This is perfect!
I have started reading the word and a short prayer after every meal with my 3 and 4 year old boys. Just a short passage in the NIV and as I go I explain the parts I know they don’t understand or simplify the words as I go along reading a short passage. They have started asking if they could pray. And I encourage them. It’s mostly some confession (telling on themselves to God of the naughty things they do, and sin is anything they think say or do that breaks God’s rules) and thanksgiving, some intercession, and praise mostly prompting on my part for them and me praying simply. I am on my second round of family and my 4 year old is in 4K, so every hour would not work, but after every meal does. I could pray more with my three year old. They are up however by right around 6:00a on their own.
Love this idea! Thanks for sharing.
I love the early morning routine. Such a sweet picture of your boys with you at 8am. I have a 5 and 2.5 year old. The question about prayer is a great conversation starter! Also, I would like them to be familiar with their Bible. My goal is to have it open and ready to read, real handy. Lately it has been TV while mommy wakes up at 6am. .
I’m in! I have been seeking for a way to make God more of the center of our home and family…my son is 4 and is also inquisitive about the nature of God and wonders why he can’t see Him. He understands that God loves him and protects him. Thank you for the challenge! 🙂
Am I the only one that thinks this seems forced? Yes, you can talk to God through prayer. But there are many ways to talk and commune with God… Take a walk, worship God through creation. Listen to worship music. I don’t want to be disrespectful, at all, this just seems legalistic to me. Blessings!
Susan, I can see where it might look that way, but the intention of it is to train our hearts and minds to focus on God all day long. Any time I want to add something new to my life, I have to train myself to do it, or I just won’t. I think God honors the heart behind it to make Him a priority. Could it get legalistic? Sure, anything good can. But if our hearts are truly to teach ourselves to depend more on God, I don’t think it will get that way 🙂 Hope that helps!
It will seem forced at first. When it becomes “habit” then it will seem natural. Just like taking that quiet time to read the bible, or pray in the morning, you had to train yourself to do it. We get caught up in “life” and often forget. I too, am a victim of that. Luckily, I am frequently out in the car, with KLOVE on, and I worship and talk to God at those times, but I can’t say it’s every hour, for sure!
I’m involved in a prayer shortage. I don’t ever think about it except when praying with my kids. I have my little conversations as topics arise, and I know that counts, but I feel like I’m missing opportunity and, in turn, pass this on to my boys. This could be the reset I need for my own life that ultimately translates to my boys. I need to practice prayer. I’m in!
Sadly, my boys are in school all day (ages 10 (2 of them) and 11, soon to have a 12 y/o!). But we do have prayer circle every morning. They have to pray for someone in their class (or 2, or 3) over hardships seen, issues learning, following rules, attitudes, etc. I think I will task them with praying at least once a day at school. Whether it be lunch, before a quiz. I went to India a few years back and we learned the 30-second prayer. It’s even shorter than that sometimes. Very powerful, very “demanding”….. “In Jesus’ name I ask you to ……. Amen” BAM. Prayer doesn’t have to be long, just so it’s sincere. 🙂
We need to do this. My 4 yr old tells me he talks to God in bed. My 8 yr old says he prays, but gets mad at me when I ask him about praying. We pray when we eat, but that is the only praying we do as a family. It’s hard having grown up in a family that did not pray with each other much or encourage prayer much. I think this would be a fun challenge, but a hard challenge as well. But we need this!In fact I just remembered that yesterday my 8 yr old told my 4 yr old that God doesn’t answer all of our prayers. :S I told him that he does, maybe not the way we want them answered or in the time frame that we want them answered. I don’t want them to think that praying is pointless if God doesn’t answer prayers. We need to start praying and asking God to show Himself to our boys by answering their prayers in a powerful way!
Just set the alarm on my watch to go off hourly. Hope I remember what it is going off for. Have been wanting to do this for a while and just never did. Thanks for the reminder.
Count me in. I’m gonna try to get my son on board too.#PrayOnTheHours
I thought about the way we pray and the words we use. It seems we are always asking for something for ourselves or others. I thought maybe God would like to hear about what we thank Him for. So I always start out with thanks for aspects I appreciate in this beautiful, diverse world He created for us. Most of the time I then ask for others. I don’t always need his help for me.