By Catherine Claire Larson, Crosswalk.com
Is prayer something that feels too hard in the mothering days you’re in? Whether you’re exhausted from midnight feedings, shuffling kids to practices, juggling too many schedules, or scrubbing baby food off the high chair, God wants to meet you in that exhaustion with His power and peace. If you’ve been putting prayer off until the kids are older, when the days get smoother, or when you’re less frazzled, stop. Here are five simple ways beyond mealtime prayers to stack prayer onto things you are already doing, so you can begin to incorporate prayer into your daily routine with your kids now and make prayer a habit that will last their whole life through.
1. Good Morning, God
An African mom I met in her mud-brick home in Rwanda a number of years ago once said something that struck me. She commented that we are different from cows that just start their day eating. Unlike the cows, we have a voice and a mind to offer up our prayers each morning as an offering. How many of us take this simple fact for granted? Whether you wake to an alarm or the baby’s cry, before your feet hit the ground, pause and say, “I love you, God. I’m yours today.” Even young children can understand the importance of a greeting. Teach them to open their eyes and say, “Hello, God, thank you for this day!”
2. With Your Morning Coffee
Grab an index card and write your child’s or children’s name in big print—one on each card. Put it next to the place where you drink your morning coffee, tea, or water. Take a minute as you start your day with your drink in hand to pray for your child by name. Now, each time you pray for that child, simply jot the date on that index card. When you’ve filled the card with dates, stick it in an envelope to give to your child, either when they are older or going through a rough season. (Who knows how many cards you will fill by the time they leave your home?) If you have more time, you can do this with a journal and write the actual prayers, which can help you focus your mind through the kinesthetic act of writing. Either way, as you build this habit, you can turn any anxiety you may have for your child into a prayer instead of a worry, as Philippians 4:6-7 instructs.
3. When You Get in the Car
You don’t back out until they’re all buckled. Why would we go anywhere without asking for God’s protection and presence? We pray in the car before we back out: my husband started this habit with us on Sundays before church, and it gradually spread to any time we get in the car to go someplace. It helps us shift gears from frazzled to present and is often a chance to dedicate ourselves to God in whatever activity we are about to undertake.
4. When the Kids Misbehave
I have six sons, 13 years and under, and our house can go from calm to chaos in a matter of seconds. When the kids are complaining or cranky, when a child is yelling, or when the conflict is too complicated, I often say, “Kids, I think we need to stop and pray.” I lead us in prayer and ask for God’s help amid the overwhelming emotions. This models for my kids that I don’t have all the answers, but God is where we turn when we are overwhelmed.
5. Make Prayer a Part of the Bedtime Routine
PJs: check. Brush teeth: check. Stories read: check. Hugs and kisses: check. Prayers: check. Prayer has become an important way we finish every day. I started this by praying for my babies each time I put them down to sleep, and I have continued this as we say goodnight to preschoolers, grade-schoolers, and my teen. These have become special times for us to connect about the things we are anxious about, build compassion for others as we pray for needs among our circles of friends and family, and close our children’s days with the recognition that God is in control of all things and His love for us is greater than anything we know.
When it comes to prayer, we don’t have to overcomplicate things. Simple habits like these can profoundly impact us and our kids. They also allow prayer to become a reflex for us in everyday moments.
Sidebar Suggestion: Other Daily Places to Incorporate Prayer in Your Family’s Routine:
-In conflict resolution
-As part of birthday blessings
-When your baby or child hits a milestone
-After a win or a loss
-On nature walks
-Waiting in the drop-off line
-When you hear an ambulance
-Before a check-up
Additional Textbox Suggestion/ PDF/or Social Media Carousel:
Sample Simple Prayer: “Good morning, God. I love you. Thank you for the gift of this day. I give it to you.”
Benefits: Helps us and our children realize the day is God’s and life is a gift to be received with gratitude.
Sample Simple Prayer: “God, help __________, as (he or she) faces __________________ today.”
Benefits: Establishes a habit of turning anxious thoughts into prayers. Teaches our children that prayer is a gift we can give to others.
Sample Simple Prayer: “God, keep us safe as we drive. Help us to be a blessing to others and a light as we go to ________________.”
Benefits: Reminds us that we are to be God’s light as we go out into the world.
Sample Simple Prayer: “God, we are all feeling overwhelmed. Come into this moment and give us peace.”
Benefits: Reminds our children where to turn when life or emotions feel too big.
Sample Simple Prayer: “God, thank you for the gift of this day and your enormous love for us. We pray for __________________ (list concerns). We rest in your care for all these situations and for us.”
Benefits: Builds compassion in our kids as we pray for others routinely. Gives our children a safe place to share their fears and anxieties at the end of the day. Gives us a place to share with our kids that God’s love for them is even greater than our own.
You can learn more about Catherine's "Wonder" devotionals series and upcoming book release here!
Photo credit: ©HarperCollinsChristianPublishing