One of the disciplines that we, as parents, want to pass on to our children is the “habit” of prayer. This is an area in which I am certainly growing and have, by no means, “arrived”. So in an attempt not to be hypocritical, let me share some ideas we have tried, and are trying in our home which I hope will serve as an encouragement to you and your family.
We started by sharing how reforming meal time prayers can be a good first step toward building the habit of prayer in your family. Another strategy is to develop a “pattern” of prayer. One of the ideas that has helped me is to come up with a daily prayer target that is easy to remember and that can aid in directing your family’s attention beyond, “bless all the missionaries”. We made up an acrostic for the days of the week that helps to guide us daily in a particular direction in our prayer life.
Mondays - Missionaries
On Mondays we pray for our missionaries; friends we support who serve the Lord in our stead. We keep missionary prayer cards (seeing a picture helps) and often times, their prayer letters/emails so we can know how to pray specifically for their current needs on a weekly basis. Mondays are also a good day to compose a short email as a family letting our missionary friends know that we appreciate them and their service and that we prayed for them that day.
Tuesdays - Two Friends and an Enemy
On Tuesdays we pray for two of our friends; asking the Lord to meet their particular needs of which we are aware. Then we always pray for one “enemy” as Scripture encourages us. There is usually one “enemy” or person with whom we are in conflict of some sort. (are we the only ones?) It is a good strategy to teach our children to pray for those who and unkind or who persecute us. It helps us to maintain a godly perspective of love toward even those who are against us.
Wednesdays - The World
On Wednesdays we pray for needs in the world beyond our borders. If there has been a recent war, earthquake, tsunami, drought or other calamity that is in the news, we remember the people affected by the disaster and we pray for the Church that is enduring that hardship that they may be used to further the Gospel in the midst of their difficulty. Another thing we target on Wednesdays is praying for a people group from around the world. There are websites and books that give information for our families to pray with more knowledge and understanding. You can even sign up to receive an email every Wednesday so your family can pray for the highlighted unreached people group of the day.
Thursdays -Those in Authority
On Thursdays we pray for those in authority over us. We remember the different jurisdictions of authority under which we live - family, church, and civil government. We encourage our children to pray for their parents (we need their prayers desperately), for those who shepherd us in our church (pastors, S.S. teachers, Bible Study leaders, ministers of the gospel), and for those who serve us in the government, both locally and nationally. While we express gratefulness to the Lord for those in authority we also remember their needs. They especially need to hear clearly from the Lord; they need to be subject to His authority; and they need to lead by humbly serving and laying down their lives for those under their authority.
Fridays - Family and Future Vision
On Fridays we pray for our family and for our future generations. We pray for the specific needs facing the children that day. We pray for Dad to have wisdom and discernment as he leads our family, for the Lord to turn his heart toward our family. We pray for future spouses for each of the children, and then we also pray for any other needs facing our family at that time. We remember to pray for Christ-like character to develop in each family member and we pray specifically for each family member to continue hungering and thirsting for God and His Word. We ask the Lord to speak clearly through His Word to the hearts of our children to convict them of sin, to renew their hope in the Lord, to give them light for their path, to allow them to walk in a manner worthy, to cause them to be witnesses to the world, etc. We pray for vital, passionate relationships with the Lord and for our lives to bring Him ultimate glory.
Saturday - Sacrifice
On Saturdays we encourage our family to pray for their own hearts; to personally evaluate what is going on in their own lives and to seek to live lives sacrificially for the cause of Christ. We use Saturday to stop and consider areas of selfish living that need to be confessed and repented of, areas of “Me First” and “My Way’s Best” thinking that need to be addressed. We pray for a spirit of renewed sacrifice and submission to the Lordship of Christ in all areas of our lives. We desire to intentionally submit our lives to the Lord and to serve Him with a “Not-My-Will” attitude of meekness. Saturdays are a good day to examine, evaluate, confess, and commit our hearts to Him anew.
Sunday - Sabbath Rest and Renewal (Listen and Linger)
On Sundays we approach the Sabbath in a posture of rest and with a desire to listen to what the Lord is saying to us. We aren’t bringing supplications to Him as much as we are just longing to hear from Him. We linger in His Word, we rest in His presence, and we are renewed. This is the day we cease from our work and we just listen to His voice as we worship in song and through prayer, hear His Word taught, and fellowship with other Believers around His table. Our prayers are in adoration of Him and His works and His Word and our prayers declare His worth.
The acrostic mentioned above is just a tool that we came up with to help our whole family to target our prayers beyond ourselves and to further build into our lives patterns of prayer that might serve to make us a family of prayer. Consider coming up with your own acrostic or other tool that will help your family to become more devoted to the Lord in prayer.