Prayer has been the subject of books, many sermons and conversations. How to pray has been a question that has been asked since Jesus walked the earth with His disciples. Prayer has been broken apart, categorized, studied and at times, made complicated by all our human intelligence trying to figure it out. I like to keep it simple. As I tell my preschoolers, prayer is simply talking to your best friend. That is how I have treated prayer all my life. I don’t claim to have the most eloquent prayers or know exactly how I am supposed to pray for healing or whether I should stick with rote prayers or use my own prayers. I don’t know what posture I should take in prayer – should I kneel, stand or sit? I only know that God delights in hearing our prayers and that prayer is powerful.
Why is prayer so powerful? It certainly isn’t because I have great faith, in fact I’ve asked God for help in the faith department many times. Prayer is powerful because our God is powerful. When we pray simply trusting God, bringing all our cares and concerns to Him, things happen! God answers. He doesn’t always answer in the way we might have conceived that He should, but He always answers.
Back to the question, how should we pray? I’m going back to my preschoolers again. Pray with all your heart. Pray sincerely. Pray any time and anywhere. If you are at school or work, pray at your desk. At church or at home, you may want to kneel if you can or stand and raise your hands upwards to God in thanks. You can sit in your favorite chair with a cup of coffee and pray or find your own “prayer closet”, a place that is comfortable and that you designate for prayer. Pray in your car. If you like to journal, write your prayers. By the way, it’s fun to go back later and read what you wrote and see how God has answered your prayers. Pray at the park, in your backyard – Just pray!
For years, I’ve struggled with prayer. I feel as though I don’t pray near as often as I should and when I do pray, I am often interrupted. I know I need to focus on prayer more, but I am learning to pray in the moments and on the spot. I feel like God and I have a running conversation going. When I think of my friend who has cancer, I pray. When someone calls me with a need, I pray, right then and there. When I’m frustrated by a work related problem, I pray. When my faith is low, I pray. When my thoughts go in wayward directions, I again lift my prayers to God asking for His help because I am so weak. And yes, as I already stated above, my book was a result of prayer. Prayer and stepping out in faith to get it published. I needed His help every step of the way and He didn’t let me down. It’s really His book anyway. I was inspired by God’s Word, Psalm 139. It’s a favorite of mine. One I used to read to my own children. It says so much about God’s love and care for us and how wonderfully created we are. I wanted to share that concept with other children too and so inspired and led by God I wrote.
How can you pray better? Is there a formula to follow? Some might say there is. The Lord’s Prayer is a good pattern to follow, but really, if you want to pray better, then just pray. Ask God to guide your prayers and just talk to Him. Share what’s on your heart. He’s listening.
PARENT OR GRANDPARENT PRAYER:
I realize that I don’t pray near often enough and yet I desire to pray more. Lord, take my weak and wayward heart and transform it by your Spirit within. Teach me to pray always and pray first whenever a problem comes my way. Lord, thank you for hearing me when I pray. You don’t reject me or turn me away, instead you welcome me. You listen, you comfort and you give me strength for each day. Lord, when I pray I often find myself bringing a whole list of needs before you. I pray for my family, friends, our nation, the world and I think that my prayers could be called worry prayers in that I bring everything that disturbs or concerns me before you. I know you invite us to do that. It’s far better than trying to figure out these problems on my own, yet Lord, I realize that far too often I forget to take time to thank you and praise you for who you are. You are amazing Lord. You are creator, redeemer, sustainer, grace giver, miracle worker. You are over all and above all. You are my Savior and King. Thank you for Jesus and for all that you have done for me. I am amazed by your grace and goodness. Lord, I ask one last thing, give me wisdom and the opportunity to share you and share prayer with the next generation. May our kids understand that they too can take a moment to pause and pray. They can talk to their best friend, Jesus, wherever they may be and whatever they are facing. Amen
TEACHING OUR KIDS TO PRAY
* Let your kids hear you pray. It goes back to the old saying, “Better caught than taught.” Your kids will model what they see you doing.
* Pray with them in the morning when they get up, at night when they go to bed, when they have an “owie”. At every opportunity, pray.
* Pray at meal times. I’ve heard it said recently that you don’t have to pray at meal times as long as you are thankful and yes, I agree with that statement to a point. However, I do feel that pausing to take a moment to focus on God and be thankful is a good example for our children. How we need those moments in our hurry, scurry world.
* Whether it is rote or not, if praying at meal times helps you and your child focus on God, then do it and yes, do it with a truly thankful heart.
* Try different types and styles of prayer with your child. You can do a thankful prayer, a prayer for guidance, a blessing prayer, written prayer, joyful prayer, song prayer, cheer prayer, kneeling prayer, asking for help. Just pray! With small children or even with older kids, do a draw a picture prayer. Let them draw what they want to talk to God about.
* For younger children, I also like one-sentence conversation type prayers.
* Write down a list of things you want to pray for and pick one of the things on your list to pray for each time your family sits down at a meal together.
Don’t forget to thank God for the answers to prayer that you see too.
SHARE A STORY: A Wife for Isaac – Genesis 24
TRUST: Knowing that I can love and obey God because He does what He says and He cares for me. I can talk to God about everything. He is always listening.
Baby Isaac grew up. He was now ready to start a family of his own. Abraham thought, “Isaac needs a wife to love so he won’t be all by himself.” Abraham sent his servant, Eliezer back to the country they had moved from to find a wife for Isaac. Eliezer packed the camels and set off. (Pretend to pack.)
Walk, walk, walk went the camels. Walk, walk, walk went Eliezer. It was a long trip! Hot and tired, Eliezer finally arrived at the town where Abraham had lived long ago. (Sit down.) He stopped by the well to get a drink. He was thirsty. The camels were thirsty too! Eliezer didn’t know what to do so he prayed, “God, let the woman who gives me a drink of water and waters my camels too, be the wife that you have for Isaac.” (Fold hands as though praying.)
Camels drink a lot of water. Eliezer knew the woman who was kind enough to give him a drink and water his ten camels would be a very special person. He trusted God to help him and answer his prayer. (Praying hands again.)
Guess what? God did answer his prayer. (Praying hands again.) A woman named Rebekah came to the well to get water. When Eliezer asked her for a drink, she said, “I will give you a drink and I will water your camels too.” (Pretend to water camels.) Eliezer thanked God for showing him what to do.
God will answer your prayers too and help you know what to do just like He did Eliezer. Even though you are little, God wants you to talk to Him. He wants to know about your pets, your family and your owies. You can talk to Him about anything and you can ask Him for help no matter what. When God answers your prayers, don’t forget to say, “Thank you!” God loves you and He will always do what He says He will do. You are very special to Him.
MEMORIZE: Psalm 31:14 ERV – (Hold hands like holding a book.)
Lord, – (Hold hands outwards)
I trust – (Make fists and pull inwards)
In you – (Point upwards.)
You are my God – (Clap hands.)
Dear God, Thank you for loving me and listening when I pray. I know that you will help me know what to do and say. I know that I can talk to you everywhere and everyday. I love you, Jesus. Thank you for this day. Amen
KNOW: God hears me when I pray. He will show me what to do.
TALK ABOUT: What can we talk to God about?
ASK: Who loves you? God loves me? What can you do? I can talk to God any time and anywhere.
FUN IDEAS FOR THIS WEEK
* Play a “Good Choices” game. Give your child various scenarios such as, what could you do when your baby sister is crying or when someone takes away your toy. Act out the answers and remind your child that he/she can always talk to God.
* Take a trip to the library and check out some picture books about camels to read together.