Be sensitive to the personality differences in family members and their preferences, Don’t let those differences keep you from praying. Keep these things in mind to make family prayer work well for your family.
1. People are at different places in their prayer life.
Don’t put pressure on anyone to pray in a certain way. Give permission for people to pray in their own way. However when you pray out loud it gives your kids a model to replicate and they will more than likely pray using phrases you use and repeat the same prayers – that’s ok they will grow. Praying with and in front of your children lets them know you care deeply for them and enhances the quality of their spiritual lives. As you intentionally make this is continual practice you will see everyone will start to feel comfortable and feel safe praying with each other.
2. Prayer is an important component in all households.
While giving space and permission for family members to pray their own way you still need to make a commitment to pray. Encourage prayer often in your home helping your family discover that you can connect with God wherever you are and talk to him about everything that’s going on in their lives. Lead you kids in prayer so they will learn how to talk to God. Look for opportunities to pray anytime you are all together. In the car going on holiday, anytime you hear a ambulance or police siren. The more you pray together the more natural it will feel.
3. Prayer is about turning to God for answers.
Some people fear their kids asking them a question they are not able to answer. That’s the beauty of prayer. It gives you the chance to turn these questions over to God. It’s ok to admit in prayer that we don’t have all the answers.
4. Prayer is personal development.
Prayer is a way to grow closer to God and others. As you grow you change and everyone grows and changes at different paces so your family prayer life will always be growing and changing. Celebrate change and support each other’s spiritual growth spurts. Use prayer to teach your kids that they are very special to God and He cares about the things that matter to them, no matter how small anyone else thinks that is. Don’t rush things, praying every day will help everyone to develop naturally.
5. Anticipate and celebrate diversity.
What works for one child may not work for the other, especially if you have children of different ages. Be willing to enjoy and try new kinds of prayers to match the differences of everyone in the family. Expect each person to be different and celebrate the way each is unique.
6. Take and make time for prayer.
Everyone has busy schedules and it’s not always easy to get everyone together. But don’t be tempted to just go with what’s easy and leave anyone out of this time. Pick a time when everyone will be at home. Make it a standing date and you’ll be more likely to incorporate it into your life.
7. Prayer develops and consciousness of God’s presence.
We can easily forget that God is always with us. We get caught up in our daily routine where it’s all about us and we forget there is an all knowing, all powerful God we can turn things over to. So prayer is a time to shut out the noise of the world and reconnect with God. Take some time during family prayer to just be aware of God’s presence, to be still, don’t let the silence make you feel uncomfortable. Prayer is not just about us talking to God but also listening.
8. Prayer brings you closer as a family and increases communication.
Through prayer you will become more aware of what’s going on in each other’s lives. Prayer will be a way to see how God has been at work. Your kids will also gain insight into your relationship with God. Knowing more about each other should be a positive experience that increases further communication. As you share more your trust and love will increase, which makes it more natural to pray for each other.
9. Experience is the best teacher.
You don’t learn to pray by reading a book. You learn to pray by praying. It will feel strange at first, sometimes embarrassing and uncomfortable but you will get better. You will look back and see how far you have come. Encourage your children to write their prayers down and in later years read it back and talk to them about how they grown in their friendship with God.
10. Use a variety of ways to encourage prayer.
God is incredibly creative and he speaks in many different ways. And so you have multiple ways to speak to him as well. Ask your kids for ideas of different ways to pray – find out which ways are meaningful for them. Before getting started ask each other about their experience or feelings around prayer so that you know where everyone is coming from. Ask things like, when you think of prayer what comes to mind? What has been your best experience with prayer? What difficulties have you had with prayer?