down to sleep” ; “God is great, God is good….”; “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy Name…”
HOW DO YOU PRAY?
I have noticed through the years that people pray as they have ‘heard others pray’. We all grow up hearing the children’s prayers. Some faiths have recited prayers. Many pray only when in need or after they have tried everything else.
Children are sponges. They soak up all around them as they grow. both the good habits and the bad. So many times we inadvertently teach them to PRAY only as a last resort because all the other ‘praying’ is in recitation, not real prayer. There is the ‘blessing prayers’ … “God is Good, God is Great. let us thank Him for our food.” One of my cousins when asked to pray would get to the point with, “Dear God, bless this bunch as we munch our lunch.” There is the bedtime prayer, “Now I lay me down to sleep … bless mommy, daddy, the cat … the goldfish …. oh and dear old Aunt ______ (P.S. please stop her from pinching my cheeks.) As they get older we teach our children The Disciple’s Prayer:
Matthew 6:9-13, ” 9“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. 11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread. 12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’(NASB) This prayer was intended to teach us HOW to pray and while it is OK to pray it, it was never intended for us to ‘use it’ as a substitution for PRAYING. Many people call that portion of scripture The Lord’s Prayer but, it was the Disciple’s Prayer. A prayer Jesus used to teach them HOW to pray. (The Lord’s Prayer is John 17:1-5)
So how do you pray and how do you teach your children to pray? You use the ‘model’ He gave us in Matthew 6 to teach them to TALK with God in Prayer. It’s a conversation not a recitation. Acknowledge WHO He is, praise Him, ask forgiveness, pray for others and THEN ask for your needs. That is a ‘season’ of prayer.
There are faiths that pray three times a day. But, we as Christians are to pray unceasingly. And we can. What does that mean? Well, even though in your morning devotions or night-time devotions you pray as the Lord taught His disciples, throughout the day you pray unceasingly. You see a wonderful sight in creation and you pray, “thank you Lord … that’s beautiful”. You see a homeless person on the corner and pray, “Lord be with them, meet their needs.” A friend calls or is brought to mind, “Lord you know their need right now, meet them.” You wake in the middle of the night and someone comes to mind, “Lord, I do not know what is going on right now, but I lift them in prayer asking you to guard and protect them, meet them where they are.” You pray, unceasingly … when the Holy Spirit brings Him to mind or others to mind … you lift up a prayer. This is intercessory prayer, interceding on the behalf of others as the Holy Spirit brings them to mind. The Lord uses this way to teach you faith and draws you closer to Him through the Holy Spirit. You learn to listen to Him.
Sometimes you can close your eyes, other times you silently lift up the prayer. The Word instructs us to have a daily time of prayer: “Matthew 6:6 But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” But you can pray at anytime and should. It gives you peace to be in constant communication with our Heavenly Father.
Many times people live their lives (and this is the only part their children see) sending up ‘quickie prayers’. Make sure you have a daily time of prayer. If you only go to Him when you are in trouble, your children will only go to Him when they are in trouble. People would call my Mom for prayer because she had “camel knees”. Everyone knew my Mom spent time in prayer on her knees …they said she had a ‘hot line’ to Heaven. We all can have that ‘hot line’. Unfortunately, many of us only use the line in time of need and is it any wonder we feel we are getting a busy number?