Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Repeat After Me

"Dear God, thank you for this wonderful day, and thank you for this food, and thank you for my mom not to get frustrated with Cai, and thank you for everything you have made, and thank you for this wonderful day and thank you to help us bring Shabila home, Amen"

This is the prayer we used to hear from Zeke on a daily basis when we would ask him to pray, at least 7 out of 10 times.  It was really sweet the first few times it came out of his mouth, but when all our kids do is recite a prayer they made up six months ago, it loses its impact.  They are just saying words, they aren't speaking from their heart, and that is what prayer is.

We could really sense the Lord's hand on my kid's hearts when we hear variations to their little prayers like, "...help me to obey mommy", "...help me to share with Rainy", "...help me not to freak out", "...help me to make wise choices" or "...help me not to have scary dreams."  Those are the types of prayers our Father longs to hear and the kind that make us, as parents, really see our kid's hearts.

So, in order to help cultivate genuine communicate between them and their heavenly father we felt like we needed a change.

Josh started a new thing with them that we have both started implementing.  It was kind of awkward at first, but like anything else, we all have gotten used to it and I feel like it is really shaping our kids' prayer life.  We have started having the kids repeat prayers after us.

Josh got the idea from Matt Chandler.  It kind of works like when you have people repeat the "sinner's prayer" for them to receive Christ into their hearts.  I know, I know...It's not the words, it's the heart, but you have to teach the heart how to communicate sometimes.

We want our kids to know that prayer isn't just a thing we do at certain times during the day, like before a meal or bedtime.  We want them to know that it is simply a conversation with God, our Creator!  We want them to grasp, as early as they can, that they can talk to God whenever and wherever and about whatever.

After doing this for several weeks now, we are realizing that the kids sit still longer and quieter when we pray together like this and that they are more attentive and focused.  This is a huge difference from when we'd sometimes catch them staring up at the ceiling reciting the prayer from dinner and asking God to bless the food before climbing into bed.  Their own personal prayers have really blossomed as they are learning to communicate in their own way to our Heavenly Father.
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