When we sit down as a family for dinner, we begin in prayer. Usually, our kids are the first to remind us. Landon, our nearly 4-year-old, used to put out his hands and repeat, “A-men, A-men, A-men.” Our nearly two-year-old daughter, Kennedy, holds out her little hands and says, "Pway, Pway."
Every now and again, the praying isn't limited to just the beginning of the meal. I remember one time where, at least five times whiling we were eating, Landon would hold out his hands to pray. Finally, I had to say, “No, Landon, we’ve prayed enough.”
Is that even possible? To have prayed enough?
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:
1. We, as his parents, have to believe that prayer matters.
2. 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 and Kennedy every night before bed. We ask them who they want to pray for. Sometimes they answer us. Other times they just listen. As part of the routine each night, Landon recites 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 our kids learn 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 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 kids we never thought we’d pray.
I hope our kids learn these prayers for them are timeless.
3. Circle your kids in prayer
Christi and I pray 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 powerful.
Joshua Straub, Ph.D. is an author and speaker, serves as the Marriage and Family Strategist for LifeWay Christian Resources and is the President and Cofounder of The Connextion Group, a company designed to empower parents, spouses and families. Josh speaks and writes on emotionally safe parents and spouses and the influence of technology on today's family. He is the author of the newly released Safe House: How Emotional Safety is the Key to Raising Kids Who Live, Love, and Lead Well (Waterbrook Multnomah) and along with his wife, Christi, is the producer and co-author of the video curriculum The Screen-Balanced Family: Six Secrets to a More Connected Family in the 21st Century. Josh and his Canadian wife Christi reside in Nashville, TN with their son, Landon, and daughter, Kennedy.
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.comand follow him on Twitter @joshuastraub or Facebook.