Prayer rhythms

FRONTLINES: Prayer connects us with God and one another

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When I was 23, I moved across the country, a full day’s drive away from my family of origin. To combat my homesickness, my mom and I developed a routine. Every Monday night, I’d sit out on the balcony of our apartment, pull out my phone and call my mom. We’d settle in for a long chat, catching up on the ins and outs of family life, the questions we’d each been pondering, the things God had been teaching us, the little dramas and escapades of our friends and family. This regular rhythm of life was balm for my lonely soul.

Now that I have children of my own, I see how developing good family prayer rhythms and routines has helped to connect our oft-weary souls with our loving Creator. In the same way that my mom and I developed a routine to strengthen our connection, our family has routines of prayer that provide regular points of connection with God. We pray together in the morning to start our homeschool day. We pray together before meals. We pray before bed.

Sometimes our prayers sound similar: We thank God for various blessings and lift up prayer requests that are close to our hearts. We take turns praying aloud, with varying levels of eloquence or giggling. However, all these prayer moments are beating out a rhythm for my kids: trust God, talk to him, he loves you. Trust God, talk to him, he loves you.

Perhaps this doesn’t seem all that earth-shattering. However, in a world in which so much of our inner lives take place in online spaces instead of out loud and together, I think it’s worth some reflection: Are we making space to talk to God together in our families?

Several strategies have helped my family find some level of success. First, we pray out loud and we take turns. Of course, each of us has our own prayer life as well, but coming together, stumbling through the words, dealing with awkward pauses and malapropisms helps us to agree together in prayer and to hear the concerns of one another’s heart.

Secondly, we use books of liturgy (Douglas McKelvey’s Every Moment Holy is a great one) and prayer templates such as the Lord’s Prayer as tools to help provide a framework for our thoughts or to help us express ourselves in a clear, coherent and beautiful way when the well of language runs dry. We don’t ask our children to memorize poems and recite them at prayer time. We are talking to our personal, loving Creator, and we want our kids to know that and to begin developing a desire for a relationship with him from an early age.

Our good Father wants to connect with us, and the great news is, it’s never too late to begin. Whether a regular routine of prayer is something your family has had for years or whether it is totally new and a bit daunting, you can begin to “approach the throne of grace with confidence,” as Hebrews 4:16 exhorts. Building this rhythm into your days together will not only help draw you closer to one another, but more importantly it will create a beautiful habit of connecting with our life-giving Savior.

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