by Stephanie Thurling & Sarah Holmstrom
The other day my youngest child just blurted out of nowhere, “Thank you, God, that we don’t have to eat bugs.” I laughed out loud as I imagined having to cook up a few June Bugs for dinner.
“Yes, thanks for that, God,” I chimed in.
I have never thought to thank God for that, but I really am quite thankful we have other options for food. I’m also thankful to have a child who reminds me to thank God for everything…silly and small to serious and big, God cares about it all!
For the past few years, our family has decided to make praying with our kids our number one priority. I am still learning to lay down all the things I often worry about and strive for and keep Jesus my number one. But over the years, God has used prayer to completely transform our family, bring us closer together, and remind us that Jesus is the main member of our family. With a lot of practice and intention, it is becoming second nature for my kids to remember to praise God for the little things and the big things and to call on His name for help all day long. When I forget, they remind me!
Prayer is one of the few things that Jesus commands us to do in the Bible and then He shows us how to do it! Throughout His life on earth, He prayed constantly. He prayed to talk with His Father, but also to model for us how important it is to live a life of prayer.
Praying with our kids and for our kids should be our biggest priority as parents. When we make prayer our number one to-do, God uses prayer to change our own hearts as parents and also to bring our family closer together. We are more connected and know each other on a deeper level when we pause to pray together often. It’s easy to fall into the habit of simply sharing a space with our kids, but when we make time to be purposefully present and teach them about God’s love for them, we start to get to know them better. Research shows us that families that pray together are more bonded and unified. Kids that pray grow to become healthier people! It’s worth taking time to give our kids the tools to pray.
Most importantly, prayer is the best gift we can give our kids. When we pray for them and with them, we are giving them the only gift that can last forever. The prayers you speak over and for your children and with your children have the power to change generations to come. It only takes a few minutes, but the impact is eternal!
In our family, we keep a prayer bowl on our table. We take turns picking up a card to pray before we eat dinner. We also use the prayer bowl on our own and keeping it in a central location reminds us to pray constantly!
If you’re looking for some engaging, creative, and simple ways to make prayer meaningful and fun for your whole family, we have so many options and ideas in our book, Raising Prayerful Kids!
Change Your Language
One of the simplest ways to make Jesus the center of your family is to change your language. Take the things that you are already saying and doing with your kids, phrase them a little differently, and it can become a faith-filled moment! For example, instead of simply going on a walk with your kids, stop and praise God for what you see.
You might say, “Wow, what a beautiful sky that God made today. Let’s clap for God!”
Or instead of simply enjoying a snack together, you can say something like this, “Thank you God for making apples so delicious!”
Instead of saying, “Have a great day at school, I love you!” say, “May the Lord bless you and keep you, have a wonderful day! I love you and so does Jesus!”
You’re still saying very similar things, but by including God in your language and praising Him or acknowledging Him, your kids are learning that He is always present and is part of your family.
Changing your language is a great way to keep Jesus the center of your family in a really non-intimidating way. For you personally, this practice will help you pause long enough to notice Jesus’ presence in your life. For your kids, you are modeling a life of consistent prayer, just like 1 Thessalonians challenges us to do.
Family Mission Statement
Creating a family mission statement will help you remember the kind of family you want to be. When life gets hard or busy or you feel a bit out of sorts, you can revisit the mission as a family and remember your goals. Just as the Israelites built memorials so that they could remember that they were God’s children, we need to post reminders around our homes to remember who we are. It comes in handy when you have to make decisions, plan your year, or even discipline and guide your kids.
Here are a few questions to ask yourselves as you start to craft your family mission statement, which is just a list of things that your family values, strives for, and expects.
1- What are some ways our family wants to consistently bless others? (Be
a blessing, be generous, love our neighbors, etc.)
2- What are some ways our family wants to grow closer to Jesus? (Sabbath, praying together, etc.)
3- What are some ways our family wants to grow closer together? (Go on adventures, laugh a lot, take vacations, etc...)
Keep praying for your kids and with your kids and trust that God will take care of the rest! Keeping Jesus at the center of your family is hard work, but remember, you are not alone. God sees you and He chose you to parent your kids at such a time as this. So, pull your kids in close and take time to just marvel at the wonder of God around you.
If you get nothing else done today, spend a minute or two praying with your kids or your grand kids in a fun way. Doing this will have a profound impact on your family. Consider praying this prayer together:
Thank you for the gift of family. Thank you that you have chosen us to be the parents of our children: help us to shepherd them wisely and lovingly, help us to honor you in the way we parent them, and help us to always shine Your light in our home. May we be a family that centers our lives around you. We want to seek your wisdom over all our decisions. Help us to keep our eyes so focused on you that others see your grace as they watch our family and enter our home.