Sometimes I feel like a ping-pong ball. I have To-Do lists, but they get longer, and longer, and longer, crowded out by taking care of what's "urgent."
You know the urgent: Where are the band-aids? How do you spell ukulele? What's twelve times five? I spilled syrup on the floor! Has anybody seen the dog lately?
When am I supposed to pray, much less teach my children to?
With all the urgent, sometimes I feel like a ping-pong ball. Sure, there are more peaceful seasons, but if your life is feeling rather ping-pong-ish, here's my two cents:
Choose ONE prayer focus for the day. It can be thanksgiving, salvation, praise, needs, requests, whatever God lays on your heart. By all means, please pray about other things during the day, but when you stop to pray, choose something to truly focus on.
Put your focus on a chalkboard or in a little prayer notebook! The chalkboard is nice, because you can see it all day, and the notebook is nice because you can look back and see how faithful He is.
Having a prayer focus works very well in this busy season of motherhood. Your tiny prayers may feel like a drop of water, but God can use those to raise the ocean! He will use even our smallest prayers to build up His Kingdom. He doesn't need our help, but He invites us to help anyway!
Teaching Kids to Pray:
Some kids are naturals at prayer, while others struggle and feel overwhelmed by it. Kids can use the "Daily Prayer Focus" strategy too. Here are some ways to talk about prayer with kids:
Start with the Basics:
Prayer is a lot of things, but it boils down to this: Prayer is talking with God.
Focus on The Lord's Prayer. Seriously. They asked Jesus how to pray, and He gave them an awesome example. Don't over-complicate it. Just read it and ask your kids questions. How did Jesus start His prayer? What kinds of things did He ask for? How long did He pray? Did it take Him all day?
The Psalms can be a great place to learn about prayer! Those verses aren't just songs, they are prayers! Read and ponder one together. Or look at how some Bible characters reacted to life:Esther got all of her people to fast and pray with her. Ezra chose prayer for protection over taking the king's guards on his travels.
The key is to talk about things together, not just preach at them. "Faith like a child", remember?
Don't Forget to Discuss Types of Prayer!
You can also talk about the different kinds of prayer, such as Needs, Thanksgivings, Praises, Repentance, Conversational, and Requests. This is great because it shows kids that God is not Santa Claus! We can bring Him our needs, but we must also have times of praise!
If your kids are older, you can also research and/or discuss different prayer approaches such as Memorized Prayers, Affirmations, Tongues, and just Speaking to God as a friend. What kinds make you comfortable? What kinds do you find strange? Can you see why someone else might pray differently? Can you find examples in Scripture? (for example: Jesus gave us the Lord's Prayer and we say it from memory. But do you think He was praying that over and over and over for hours in the Garden of Gethsemane? Or was He just pouring His heart out to His Father?)
Remember Your Prayers!
God made us. He knows how forgetful we can be. For that reason He gave us lots of things to help us remember. There are Holy days (how many parties He gave His people!). And He had the people collect their Joshua Stones. He tells us over and over: Remember. Remember. Remember.
Writing down a prayer focus for the day helps us do two things. First, it helps us take aim at the target. And two, when God answers, it helps us remember!
So write stuff down. Keep it simple. Use a notebook, or pick up a copy of my Pocket Planner. Whatever you do, talk about it with your kids. Build strong habits. Make prayer a cornerstone of their childhood and their character. And when God is faithful (and He always is), help them to remember.