“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” Jeremiah 29:12
My life was changed forever by one prayer. Since that one prayer, more have come, but that one in particular was the one that sparked a change in me.
After having spent several years running away from God, I found myself lying on the floor of my parents’ bathroom. It was a few hours into a three-day quarantine for cancer radiation treatment. I was 26 at the time.
The treatment made me literally radioactive and unable to have any human contact for at least 72 hours. As my time in isolation began, I could feel a physical uneasiness starting to take over my body. The minutes ticked by, and my uneasiness turned to panic. I put my face against the tile of the shower floor, a blubbering mess of fear and hysteria.
This can’t be happening to me, I thought. How did I get here?
And then, out of nowhere, I talked to God. I don’t think I had ever talked to him before and really believed He was there or was listening. I asked if He could hear me. I asked Him to help me. I asked if He would save me. We know that prayer is the foundation of our relationship with God, but it is so much more than a strategy to employ when we find ourselves at the end of whatever rope we’re holding.
As parents, it’s in our nature to want to protect our children from negative experiences like this one. We work hard to help them avoid harm, heartbreak, and disappointment. If we take a second to really think on it, though, we’ll come to terms with the reality that our children will experience the full spectrum of human emotions: great highs, low lows, and plateaus.
And we will do them a disservice if we try to enclose them in a cozy bubble or aim to keep them always under our watchful eyes.
They deserve better.
We must equip them with the one superpower they can access anywhere, anytime, whether they recall a pearl of wisdom or a sound piece of advice we gave them. Do you want to teach your kids how to be in continuous communication with their Father?
Here are five ways to help your child make prayer a habit, one little step at a time.
Lead By Example
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s not always easy to rise above the “because I said so” mentality. Once I gave my life to Christ, it took me two full years to pray out loud. I spent months ignoring Him, refusing to come to Him with anything because I was so weighed down by guilt and shame over my past choices.
But, as time went on, it became easier to pray, not just before meals or bedtime.
Challenge yourself to establish prayer as part of your daily framework for thinking and responding to what life sends your way.
Invite your kids to sit with you and talk to God together before making a decision or trying to solve a problem. As mothers, we know that oftentimes our actions speak so much louder than our words. In this case, the actions are the words.
When they see you stopping to pray, first they will observe. Then, they’ll transition from listening to active participation.
Consistency Is Key
Being consistent is the key to building any new habit, but you’re only as good as the reminders you set.
Hang printed verses in your house. Make placemats to use at mealtimes. Put Post-Its in your car. That way, rooms in your home and other ‘life locations’ become cues to call out to your Father. Decide together as a family how you want to remind yourselves to pray throughout the day.
Use several strategies to help you remember that the perfect time to pray is right now.
Life Happens. Be Flexible.
Schedules change. People don’t show up (or they do, unexpectedly). Instead of losing your cool when things don’t go as planned, see it as God adjusting your space to allow for some of His work to be done.
Plans changed at the last minute? Thank God for the extra time to sit in His presence and catch your breath. Car broke down? Treat it as an opportunity to ask the mechanic how you can pray for his or her family.
Hold appointments, tasks, and responsibilities with an open hand, and ask God to show you more of his plan when your plans change.
We all naturally want to do things that are fun and engaging. It will be difficult to make prayer a continual conversation if you view it as a chore or something you have to do rather than something you’re invited to do in order to live your best life.
Engage your children in a Bible story that focuses on prayer and leaning in to God’s plan and the role we each get to play in His eternal narrative. The story of Hannah in 1 Samuel is a great way to spark meaningful conversation about the importance and power of prayer.
Begin With The End In Mind
The practice of prayer is a lifelong journey. As adults, we can set new goals moving forward to use prayer as a way to connect meaningfully with God and help our kids build their lives on a foundation of prayer while they are still in earlier stages of development.
When they look back at the end of their lives, what do we want them to see? Did they learn ways to include God in their thoughts, ask him the questions they had, and lay down their burdens to pick up His?
Let’s make prayer a priority by committing to proactive parenting with an eternity mindset.
One of the best things you can do for your kids or grandkids is pray for them.
Join a Moms in Prayer group now!
Erin Weidemann is on a mission to shift feminine value from beauty to inherent worth. A certified teacher, coach, and nationally recognized speaker, Erin is the founder of Truth Becomes Her, a global community that equips women to let go of fear and step into the unique leadership roles for which they were designed. She is the author of eight books, including Bible Belles’ The Adventures of Rooney Cruz series. A five-time cancer survivor, Erin lives in San Diego, CA with Brent and their daughter, Rooney. Funny and real, Erin is also the host of the Heroes For Her podcast, interviewing positive female role models who are living out their passions in line with their personal values.