Tag Archives: pray

Teach Them How to Pray

This piece originally appeared on Everyday Exiles.

My daughter is 6. She’s been really interested in praying: the words we say, who we’re talking to, things we ask for, etc. Naturally, this has made me much more intentional about the time I spending talking with Jesus in her presence, as well as how we pray together at bedtime, or when there’s a need. Since she’s been in first grade, she’s really begun to know things. Parents,  I’m sure you know what I mean. She’s started reading, she’s in school with a bunch of kids I don’t know, she spends time with her school friends when I’m not within earshot, and she’s brought home some odd turns-of-phrase. But one thing I want her to pick up well is how she talks with Jesus.

She asked me at bedtime the other night if I could give her a list of things to pray. Oh, how I loved this innocent request, suggesting that there are words that are perfect to pray at any and all times. Then, as I was writing down a little ideas list for her, all organized into things to thank Him for (like our family, our home, our church), things to ask for help with (such as being kind, forgiving others, and loving others well), and those items we usually try to remember (like keep our family members healthy and protect our home) the idea popped into my head: There already is a perfect prayer for any and every time we pray.

In Matthew’s gospel, we join Jesus as he preaches the Sermon on the Mount. About halfway through, he gives us the way to not to pray, and the perfect example of a prayer to our heavenly Father. How could I not begin here, with Jesus’s words, to teach my daughter how to pray?

So in addition to some ideas of things she could mention during prayers, or people who might need an extra blessing, I wrote out Matthew 6:9-13. Here it is in the ESV, in case you aren’t familiar, or you only know the version you memorized before you knew what the words meant:

9. Our Father 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 lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

I closed her version with the simple words I had learned so long ago: For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

When so many things we teach our children can feel really complicated, I am more than content to begin the process of teaching her to pray with these simple words, straight from Jesus, to be used as a guideline for every other prayer we pray.

One Word for 2016

Last year, I chose a word (okay fine, a phrase) to carry me through the year, instead of making goals I wouldn’t achieve and resolutions I would quickly abandon. I chose the words “Embrace it”, and I do feel like that became a bit of a mantra to just love where I was. 

This year, I feel the Lord leading me towards the word “pray”. Obviously (or I think, anyway) I pray. I pray for my family, my job, myself, strangers, even. But I feel like this year, I’m being led do pray more… pray more often, pray continuously, pray over and about everything. Especially this: Pray first. Not just before making big decisions or facing trials. But pray first each day, pray first before letting the fear in, and pray first succumbing to anger. I will pray before speaking, whenever possible. I will pray for patience, guidance, and help. 

Now those all seem like lofty things to say I will do. It sounds like it’s going to take a lot of effort… But really, what it will take it just doing it. And asking the Lord to help me. Praying that He will find me faithful in this endeavor, and help me to seek Him daily and nightly, and in everything. I am excited to see my life change as I go through the process of seeking Him and finding that He will surely meet me where I am. 

Here’s to 2016, and not a resolution to change on my own, but a call for Him to change me instead.