This week is chapter eight with "The Home as a Place of Prayer". Mark Gabriel brings us along for the journey as he shares his wife Brenda and his adventures of being purposeful in prayer, in this summer’s Book & Blog series in “Organic Outreach for Families: Turning Your Home into a Lighthouse.” Each week we read a chapter and hear from various FirstCov’ers. Join us and leave a comment or question below!
A Matter of Practice
We certainly had to grow into what it means to "pray as a family". Like the (Organic Outreach) book says, we (Christians) "don't all actually pray very much because the habit of setting aside time to communicate and talk with God is not normal and natural. It doesn't fit organically into the flow of (our) life." But yet we work at it, we learn to practice it - at different times and places.
Simple and Spontaneous
Meals provided a regular rhythm for our family where we were faithful in practicing praying together. Some families say a set table prayer, but Brenda and I wanted something different. Prayers at meals were more spontaneous and the words were our own. It might have been something like, "God we thank you for this day You have made. We thank you too for Emily, for Ben, and for Isaac. Thank you for this food here for breakfast. Help us to be truly thankful. Amen"
Prayers were simple. Sometimes we added concerns or people that were on the minds of our children that day. And in time we all took turns praying before meals. It was a good place for our kids to step into and often lead in praying at mealtime.
Purposeful Prayer and a Change of Plans
Another place and time where we were very intentional with praying was before traveling. We were all together then and at the start of each trip (especially vacations) we put our hands together in the middle of the car and Brenda or I would pray. We sometimes each prayed about something involving the upcoming journey.
[Vacations were also considered "ADVENTURES!" which meant there were spaces beyond our planning (Who has had a vacation where everything goes "by the numbers"? Really?)]
And by leaving spaces beyond our agendas, we came to see too where there were places we might see God at work providing an even better way. (That detour in Wyoming led to a great day and evening in Hot Springs, South Dakota. We still talk about that change of plans where we were met with a great (and fun!) blessing from the Lord.)
Walking a Lifelong Journey with a Loving God
Practicing praying also goes hand-in-hand with knowing the God that we pray to. Chapter 8 does well in speaking of God as the "Good Shepherd" and the "Perfect Father". Learning of God lends itself to talking with this inviting, caring, graceful King. Learning of God for us came especially through Sunday School classes (for kids and parents) and in BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) lessons for all of us. It helped to get us all on the "same page" and know the big story of the gospel, beginning to end, and the God behind it all.
Yes, there are things we would have done differently. We would have done more Bible stories and praying at bedtime. Perhaps those are opportunities for you to intentionally step into simple prayers that become an experience for you and your child together.
Practicing once leads to practicing again. And practicing can lead to a rhythm of communicating with the Father who loves us so greatly. Is there any greater Treasure? Our kids are older now and praying is a part of who they are. We are exceptionally glad to have invested times of praying with our children and to learn of prayer ourselves, even along the way.
And again from Chapter 8, "If your home is going to be a lighthouse for Jesus, prayer must be central to all that you do."
Let's keep praying. It's a matter of practice. And responding to a God who invites and answers prayers.
Take it to the comments: Let's have a conversation!
- Communicating with God can happen anytime, anywhere. In the comments, share the ways you pray to help others learn and grow.
- Jesus came into the world as a light, how has a purposeful prayer life helped you to see the hand of God in each day?
Enjoy chapter 8 this week! (Catch other posts in this series here.)