Four Things to Incorporate into Family Prayers

Elliot Otteson   -  

Prayer is a beautiful mysterious way we can experience communication with God. There are so many places in our family schedules we might see fitting to bring the family together in God’s presence: Before a formal family meal, before drop-off at school, maybe a little shoutout before going to bed… The list goes on.
One thing I’m becoming aware of over the last several years, is that many parents find themselves uncomfortable praying, at least out loud, and especially in front of their closest family. 
Maybe the fear is attached to public speaking. Maybe we’re afraid we might sound funny or less impressive compared to a pastor’s prayer in a church setting. Maybe we simply just don’t know what to say. 
Believe it or not, praying openly can even be a little intimidating, even for me, depending on the company. A prayer can be a very intimate, personal look into someone’s heart and sharing that out loud could expose the deep feelings we might not normally say or it might not even be appropriate for someone around you to hear.
Thankfully, we’re not alone. 
In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter six, we find the disciples of Jesus asking Him about prayer. Here’s what Jesus had to say about it.
Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’”
Matthew 6:9–13 (ESV) 
I love how simple the above prayer is. It provides a road map and a few subject lines we can hit while in our times of prayer as families, and even provides a great structure for our individual prayers as parents.
#1 Words of Worship
For starters, we can open our prayer in Worship. Jesus leads with “Hallowed be Your name” which translated into my own take modern American English could sound something like this, “God, You’re awesome. And Your legacy is pure, holy, and beyond my ability to express in words.”
#2 Commit Yourself to His Will 
…Jesus continues to pray that God’s Kingdom would come and His will would be done on earth as is is in Heaven. 
So we can move from worship, into actually asking God to allow our lives here on earth to operate as if we were in Heaven right now. Talk about that “Heaven-on-earth good life.”
#3 Pray for “Daily Bread”
Finally, Jesus leads us to pray for our basic needs which He puts under the category of “Daily Bread.”
My translation of this word could also include other basic needs, the ability to learn well at school, a strengthened relationship, contentment, or a good night’s sleep. You can fill in the blanks here.
#4 A Prayer for the Good Life
Jesus closes this prayer with a plea for personal forgiveness from our shortcomings, continue strength to forgive others, and direct protection from the temptations of a real force, evil. 
We need to devote our families to prayer.
Pastor Paul of the letter of Colossians instructs us to “Devote ourselves to prayer being watchful and thankful.” (Col. 4v2). And what a better way to raise our kids through the trails and triumphs of life other than in this continuous conversation of worship, commitment to His will, requests for daily bread, and that closing prayer for the good life. 
In closing I thought it would be appropriate to pray together.
“God, You’re awesome. And Your legacy is pure, holy, and beyond my ability to express in words. 
I ask that the way of your Kingdom would come in our life today, that Your will to bless us and make us more like You would happen.
I pray for the energy and heart to have a good attitude today. I also pray You will help me learn something true. I pray You would show me all the more, what’s it’s like to walk closely with You.
Thank You for Your forgiveness and helping me to extending Your mercy to others.
Keep me far from the temptations to walk away from You. Keep me close.
Amen.”

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