The What and Who of Meandering About

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

New Narrative - Praying Life Together

One of my friends and colleagues in ministry once said, "One of the most powerful things for a child's faith development is for them to see their parents praying."

I wholeheartedly agree. I would only add to it by saying that it is even more powerful when children and their parent(s) pray together.

One of the recurring memories of my childhood is evening prayer time with my parents. Every evening, we would gather in one of the bedrooms (I have an older brother and an older sister) to pray together. The prayers were often simple and rather quick, but they always happened. And I couldn't go to sleep without them. Every night, our prayers would end with us reciting the Lord's Prayer together. This continued all the way through my teenage years. And this evening discipline continues on into my family to this day.

More important than the actual evening ritual of praying together is the discipline of praying life together as a family. Consider what might happen as a family prays together.
Each one hears the concerns of the other.
Each family member has the opportunity to be thankful for the ones praying with them.
Each child and their parents has the chance to speak the prayer requests and concerns of the other.
Each one is reminded that prayer is not just something we do by ourselves and for ourselves - prayer is a communal exercise.

Take the opportunity during Lent to pray together as a family. Perhaps you already do this and can try some new prayer exercises together. Or maybe you have fallen out of the habit of praying together, and this can be a season to experiment with prayer together as a family.

Here are some simple prayer exercises you might try together:
  • Create a prayer space in your house or yard where you can gather as a family on a regular basis to pray together. You don't have to do any redecorating or reorganizing. Simply think through your home and what space might be most conducive to prayer together.
  • Place a prayer jar in the kitchen with small strips of paper and a pen beside it. Encourage family members to write down their prayers and joys once a day or once a week and place them in the jar. Then someone can retrieve the jar and its contents before breakfast or dinner and the family can pray the requests together.
  • Write one another a note once a week that contains your prayer concerns and joys. Trade them with family members so that you might be praying for each other throughout the week.
  • Ask your child(ren) for their ideas about praying together as a family. They will come up with the most creative approaches to this important faith discipline. 
  • HAVE FUN! Remember, all things can be and should be prayer - our work, our play, our lives.
Praying life together can indeed be a new narrative full of compassion, empathy, concern and shared joy with one another.

Throughout the next several weeks, we will be looking at integrating some of the disciplines into our family life together and how these might shape the New Narrative into which we can live. 

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