I used to get up early to enjoy my bible reading time – alone. No kids. No distractions. And I love it…until my oldest was at the age when I wanted him to start his own Bible reading time.
When I began talking to him about it, he was very resistant. I thought it was just because he’s not a fan of reading, but the more we talked, the truth finally came out. He said, “Mom, why do I have to do this when you never do?” WHAT?! I was appalled. I couldn’t believe he would say such a thing. I read my Bible every morning, how did he not know that? Then I realized…he never saw me read my Bible.
I was so set on having my “me” time that I didn’t realize my example of trying to model the Christian life wasn’t being seen. That’s when I decided I needed to model the habits and behavior I wanted to see in my own children.
When I looked at the hard truth, my prayer life needed changing too.
I am not a fan of speaking in public, especially when it means I’m vulnerable. And yes, that includes my family. I don’t mind talking to them in conversation or correcting my children, of course, but speaking in front of them like for a speech – no way. That even includes prayers.
7 Tips for Modeling a Life of Prayer for Your Children
I decided it was time to make some changes both in my Bible reading time and in my prayer time. Changes that would not only stretch me, but also teach my children the importance of spiritual disciplines. I also want them to learn, sometimes we all have to step out of our comfort zones when doing what God calls us to do.
1. Pray in front of your kids.
Show your children the importance of prayer, by praying in front of them. This may be silent prayers after/during your Bible reading time or prayers you voice out loud. Either way you’re showing them prayer is important.
2. Pray often and about everything.
Some people may think its silly to pray for things like your van to start or the VCR to work in your vehicle, but it teaches our children what is important to us, is important to God.
A couple of years ago, we had very little money and we couldn’t afford a new vehicle. We were taking a long trip soon and the VCR in our van, which helped occupy the kids on said trip, was glitching off and on. We asked the kids to pray for the van to continue working and the VCR to work for our trip. God answered that prayer and my children were able to see first hand that He does in fact hear us and answers.
It was a great testament to them and they still talk about it to this day. Because of that one small act, they ask to pray for everything now and I know that pleases the Lord. There is nothing too small in their eyes to ask for in prayer.
3. Include your children in bedtime prayers.
For several years now, my husband has done the bedtime routine and prayers with the kids. It is one of the most precious times of his day and mine. I have been lucky enough to hear them learn and repeat the prayer he says with them every night.
They say it so often that even when he’s gone and I’m on bedtime duty, they help me. It goes something like this: “Thank you God. We love you Jesus. Change our hearts and make us new.” Then they continue on with personal requests and he allows each of them to voice prayer concerns they have on their own hearts. It is simply a wonderful way to end their day and mine.
4. Ask your kids to participate.
Most family’s pray at meal times and bedtime, but what about asking your children join in? Whether its to say the prayer for the meal or for a special prayer request that comes across your email or Facebook. My children and I often stop, and pray for needs as I see them. These might be needs I see on facebook or that my husbands sends me throughout the day. This practice has taught my children compassion for others as well as modeling what I preach to them about prayer.
5. Start a family prayer journal.
A prayer journal is a powerful tool. It is a way to record prayer requests as they come up in church, on Facebook, or those that come to your children’s mind. Writing down prayer requests is also a great way to look back and see how God has answered prayers – whether with a yes, no, or maybe.
6. Help them keep a personal prayer journal.
Once your children are old enough to write on their own, its time they can start their own prayer journal. Get them a spiral notebook, journal, prayer journal or have them make their own. Having a personal prayer journal will help them keep track of things they want to pray for as well as help them grow a more personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
7. Create a War Room in your home.
If you’ve not see the movie, War Room, I highly recommend it. This movie changed my view on the power of prayer in not only my home, but my own life.
I want my house to be a house of prayer. A place where people can come for refuge and safety. Strength and encouragement. I want my house to be a place where we spend hours on our knees together in prayer. For the world around us. For the people we love. I want to be a family of warriors – prayer warriors – for God’s Kingdom.