When we sit down as a family for dinner, we begin in prayer. Our 22-month-old son Landon is often the first to remind us, by holding out his little hands and repeating, “A-men, A-men, A-men.” Yesterday, at least five times throughout the meal, Landon held out his hands to pray. I finally had to say, “No, Landon, we’ve prayed enough.”
Really? Did I just say that?
What message am I giving him?
“It’s okay son, God’s tired of hearing us talk. Besides, let’s give others a turn. Lord knows they need it more than we do.”
Never did I think I would say such nonsense to my kids. But my food was getting cold.
The truth is, I hope he always has a passion for praying. I hope he grows up to challenge me to pray more, even if it means eating cold food.
I hope he learns that prayer matters.
For this to happen though requires two steps:
- We, as his parents, have to believe that prayer actually does matter.
- We, as his parents, have to act on that belief by doing it.
How much do you believe that praying for your children matters? If you want a litmus test on how much you believe it, ask yourself how much you do it, both praying for and with them.
Here are three ideas to get you started:
1. Pray with your kids
We pray with Landon every night before bed. We ask him who he wants to pray for. Sometimes he answers us. Other times he just listens. As part of the routine each night, he asks us to read the verse hanging over his bed.
The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with his love. He will rejoice over you with singing. - Zephaniah 3:17
I hope he learns the importance of praying Scripture.
2. Pray for your kids
One of my closest friends, Adam Donyes, has a son a few months older than Landon. Our little guys are also quickly becoming good buddies.
Adam told me he bought a Bible, designed similar to a journal, that he was reading from cover to cover. The purpose was to read the entire Bible and write prayers specifically for and to his son in the journal sections as he is prompted to pray them. When his son is 18 years-old, he will bury it in the mountains of Colorado, give his son a map, and as a rite-of-passage have his son discover that Bible.
I chose to do the same thing. And both of us are praying prayers for our sons we never thought we’d pray.
I hope Landon learns these prayers for him are timeless.
3. Circle your kids in prayer
Christi and I are currently praying circles around our kids based on Mark Batterson’s book The Circle Maker. What I read the other day has changed the way I view prayer. He wrote, “Our prayers never die.” You can pray today for your great, great, great grandkids and those prayers won’t die with you.
Talk about leaving a legacy of faith in your family lineage. It starts with prayer.
But you have to believe those prayers matter, by praying them.
No other parenting technique has been, or ever will be, as effective.
Joshua Straub, Ph.D. is an advocate for families and parenting in the 21st century. He loves coming alongside families to provide encouragement, support and practical counsel. Josh specializes in combining the scientific research with biblical wisdom to provide the best-of-all-worlds perspective on raising stellar kids, having an awesome marriage and living a full life. He is the coauthor of God Attachment and The Quick Reference Guide to Counseling Teenagers. Together with his favorite writing partner and wife, Christi, Josh is working on raising his own baseball team, starting with their son Landon. For more encouragement and ideas on marriage and parenting in the 21st century you can join Josh and a growing tribe of awesome families at www.joshuastraub.com and follow him on Twitter @joshuastraub or Facebook.