How does your family pray?

When our kids were young, we prayed together at bedtime. Some families continue this tradition until their kids leave home. Many families have family devotions each day and pray together about each person’s concerns.

Most Christian families pray before eating a meal together. A few months ago we were guests in a home, along with another Christian family. Our hosts led us in “the common table prayer” and we thought nothing of it, but the other family commented, “We don’t know that chant!”

Chant? It made me pause. How often do we ramble off a rhyme and not really think of the words that we address to our great God, the sovereign Lord of the universe? Even in church, the Lord’s Prayer sometimes is said without thought.

I love when our family gathers in the kitchen before a meal for a “prayer huddle.” We stand in a circle and put our arms around each others’ shoulders like a sports team might. We bow our heads and pray “homemade” prayers about any topic. This type of “genuine” prayer can be prayed any time in any place. We might be lounging in the living room and stop to pray for a friend or relative who’s going through a hard time. We pray for one of the kids as they’re heading out the door for school. We might pray simply prayers of praise to God for Who He is.

I love the example Jesus gave to us when the disciples asked how they should pray. In Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4, He tells us we can address Almighty God as “Dad,” “our Father.” (See also Galatians 4 and Romans 8).

Formal prayers have their place, but informal prayers are important, too! What a blessing it is to have a Father Who knows us by name (Isaiah 43:1), Who loves us not matter what (Ephesians 2:4-5). We have a Father Who longs to hear from us (Jeremiah 33:3), to gather us to Himself like a hen gathers her chicks. (Luke 13:34)

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us: “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Whatever happens, give thanks, because it is God’s will in Christ Jesus that you do this.”

Martin Luther described the closeness we can feel with God in his explanation of the Lord’s Prayer.  He explained the phrase, “Our Father, Who art in heaven,” by saying: “God would by these words tenderly invite us to believe that He is our true Father, and that we are His true children, so that we may with all boldness and confidence, ask Him as dear children ask their dear father.”

When our children see us turn to God in good times in bad, when they hear us talk to God in an authentic, conversational way… then they learn that God is right here with us, that He cares about us, and that we can turn to Him in all situations.

Try it! Gather your family in a big group hug and thank God for each person. Talk to our dear Father about whatever concerns you. Be a family who prays together!

There are so many Scripture references to prayer. Here are some other verses you might like to check out:

Philippians 4:6-7

1 John 5:14

Colossians 4:2

Romans 12:12

Psalm 145:18

Jeremiah 33:3

Hebrews 4:16

Matthew 6:6

Psalm 18:6

James 5:16

Luke 6:27-28

Acts 16:25

Acts 1:14

James 4:2

Romans 8:26

Psalm 118:5

Psalm 42:8

Luke 11:13

Psalm 5:3

Psalm 19:14

Matthew 5:44

Psalm 143:1