What is Prayer?

Resource Used: Faith Begins @ Home - Prayer Book written by Mark Holmen


Prayer is the very core of a relationship with Jesus and is simply a conversation with God and how we maintain a relationship with him. However most people when they think of prayer they think of a pastors lengthy, well worded, well organized prayers and inevitably feel intimidated or uncomfortable about praying with our families and affects how they pray.


Statistics tell us that in a typical week fewer than 10% of parents who regularly attend church with their kids, read the bible or pray together at home. And this is because we believe it’s more of a matter of knowing what to do than a lack of desire to do it. All prayer is, are the following things God shows us in his word:


1. Prayer is calling on the name of the Lord.

In times of need where do you turn to? God tells us we can turn to him and call on him. Psalm 50:15: “Call upon me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you and you will honour me.”


2. Prayer is pouring out our hearts to God. 

Sharing our life with him. God knows what’s on our hearts we don’t need to hold it in. Psalm 62:8: “Trust in Him at all times, o People, pour out your hearts to him for God is our refuge.


3. Prayer is crying out to God. 

The bible teaches we have permission to cry out to God expressing any emotion we are feeling. It’s ok! God is big enough to handle it. Psalm 18:6: “In my distress I called to the Lord, I cried to my God for help. From His temple, He heard my voice, my cry came before Him, into his ears”.


4. Prayer is drawing near to God and seeking Him.

In our fast paced over scheduled world it is easy to pull away from God, but prayer draws us back to him. Psalm 73:28: “But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the sovereign Lord my refuge.”


5. Prayer is making supplication. 

God invites us to ask Him for things. Phillipians 4:6: “Don’t be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”


How should we Pray?

Prayer is heart communication with God.


1. We should pray with full assurance of faith and confidence in God.

Trusting God when we don’t have all the answers. God hears our prayers and responds according to His plan and purpose. 1 John 5:14: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”


2. We should pray with submission to God. 

Praying for God’s will to be done, not ours and remaining faithful even when His will is different from ours. Luke 22: 39,41-42: “He withdrew about a stones throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, ‘Father if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done’ “.


3. We should pray continually and earnestly.

Just keep praying. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.


4. We should pray with humility.

God is God, we are not, we should let Him be God. He is our loving father who knows everything about us. 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear them from heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land.”


5. We should pray with a desire to be heard. 

When we speak we have God’s attention. He wants to hear what you have to say. Psalm 116: 1-2: “ I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!


6. We should pray with boldness and a desire to be answered. 

Pray expecting something to happen. Hebrews 4:16: “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”


Why should we Pray?

Most families are 2 or 3 generations removed from the last generation that remembers what it’s like to have prayer, bible reading and devotion as an integral part of life at home. The reason people are not praying is not because they don’t want to but because they do not know how to. But the truth of the matter is, sometime on life’s journey with your family, you and your kids are going to need God.


1. When trouble hits, prayer is a resource, it weathers the storms by keeping lines of communication open between your family and God.


2. Family Prayer time is a perfect opportunity to nurture the spiritual development of your children.


3. As you pray you are growing as a believer and your children are learning about having a conversation with God and shaping their understanding about God and prayer.


A few Prayer Principles to keep in mind:

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?


Ways to Pray:

There is no one right way to pray, so enjoy the freedom and flexibility God has given you in prayer.


1. Prayers that are read.

You can find all sorts of prayer books at Christian book stores or online. They contain written prayers for all occasions and situations. So praying together may be as simple as reading these prayers and making them your own. Get each family member to choose one and read it out and then discuss how the prayer impacted you. Make sure you have a variety of these that are geared to your kids age levels.


2. Prayer Requests.

In many families there is usual one or more family member who is comfortable to pray out loud. These family members can ask the others hat they would like them to pray for, or what do they want to give God praise for, or what concerns they want to give to God. Once everyone has had an opportunity to share the member comfortable with praying out loud then prays for all these things. Keep a prayer journal and write the prayer requests down and later go back and see how God has answered the prayers.


3. Silent Prayer.

When your family is faced with some difficult situations or realities or needing to make a decision take it to God in silent prayer. Determine the topic then set aside between 2 – 15 minutes for everyone to pray about it in silence. For younger children keep the prayer time brief.


4. Written Prayers.

Some people are better at writing down their prayers than praying aloud. Give everyone 5 – 10 minutes to write a prayer and then stick them in an envelope. Then go around the family and each person picks out a prayer from the envelope and reads it out loud.


5. Circle Prayer.

In a circle prayer you are providing for the opportunity for everyone to pray but no one is required to pray. Hold hands and decide who is going to start and end in prayer then after starting that person squeezes the hand of the person next to them letting them know they can now pray if they want to, if they want to pass then they juts squeeze the persons hand next to them.


6. Popcorn or Sentence Prayer.

Make a list of sentences like, God I thank you for... , God forgive me for... , God help our family... , God please be with... , God help me be more... , God help me let go of... , God give me courage to... . Then allow everyone to complete the sentence with a word or phrase. No introduction or Amen is needed, simply allow words to pop up randomly until “every kernel has popped”, then go onto the next sentence.


7. Mealtime Prayer.

Use this opportunity of being together to pray. Always praying before a meal will establish a spiritually enriching ritual that your kids can maintain into adulthood. They can be spontaneous or memorized and you should change them as your children get older.


8. Bedtime Prayer.

The end of the day can be a special time for families. Allow enough time before lights out to engage in meaningful conversation and prayer. A great way to begin is to start by asking a question like, what were your highs and lows today? , or what are you looking forward to about tomorrow? , or what are you worried about? Spend time together taking these things to God.