Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Family Values: Pray Constantly

In thinking about the values we pass on to our children, the one that rose right to the top was prayer.  Obvious... but let me ask you this.  How much weight do we really give to our prayers in day to day life?  I'll be the first to admit that what I say sadly doesn't always line up with what I do.  And prayer is one of those areas in life that falls by the wayside.  As moms, we have houses to clean, meals to prepare, kids to chase, diapers to change, appointments to keep.  The needs of the moment press in on us.  Dinner's burning on the stove.  Noah stole Lydia's toy again.  The baby's spit up.

And I have two choices. One is to scream until I turn purple.  The second is to pray.  Some days I win that battle and other days my husband finds me repenting for loosing my temper.  In either case, prayer is so much simpler.

And more effective.

You see, I can't do it all on my own.  Ten years ago, as a newlywed and without kids, I couldn't do it all.  Oh, I could mask it well.  I only had myself and my husband to worry about.  Dinner's were made around our work schedules and without interruptions.  Days were planned out at my leisure.  Sure there were bills and work to account for, but life was relatively simple and I could put on a good face of having it all together.

But over the years, the Lord has taken me into the fire of motherhood which is beyond any thing I've ever experienced.  It's a joy and a refining all at the same time.  As I write this, my youngest is battling with how to nap.  He wants to be swaddled, but still have his hands free, and yet can't figure out why he keeps knocking the paci out of his mouth.  While I revel in his little coos and presence in our home, I battle my own selfish desires of writing and preparing our home while Lydia is at preschool.

Our lives are full and we can't finish all we have on our plates.  Days rush by us in a flurry.  Tasks mount and relationships beckon.  And we wonder how it will all turn out.  Are we shepherding our children well?  Are our marriages be nourished?  Will the bills get paid?  Will our health hold on?  Are our families ok?

And because we can't do it on our own, we, hopefully, find ourselves on our knees pleading for strength from moment to moment.  When we find ourselves in a position beyond ourselves, as parenthood will often bring us to, that's where the Lord's power is able to move in.  But we can't tap into it until we pray. I can't be the wife, mother, daughter, friend I'm called to be until I learn to move prayer into the position of priority.  Prayer allows me to unburden my thoughts, worries, and anxieties and operate from the Lord's wisdom rather than my own.  Until I take the time to communicate with my Heavenly Father, I'm no better than those who know nothing of Jesus.  Because without prayer, I too am walking outside of a relationship with the Lord.

If you are desiring to enter a fuller life of prayer, here are just a few ways to begin:

*Take 5 minutes each morning.  Sit up in bed and pray for your day ahead.  Thank the Lord for the people he's placing in your path today, including your family.  Pray for strength to respond in love whatever the day brings.

*Begin the habit of praying at meals times.  Begin with the meal that the family most often enjoys together.  No one is to touch their food until the Lord has been thanked.  Use this as a time to model prayer for your children.

*Pray with your child at bedtime.  Model for them how to think through prayer.  Thanking God for their day, their life, their opportunities, and their family is a great place to start.  Then allow your children time and freedom to mention somethings or people they would like to pray for as well.  You may be surprised by what they come up with.

*Post Scriptures reminding you to pray in prominent places in your home.  For me, I always find myself in the kitchen.  I have several 3x5 cards posted with Scriptures that remind me of the power of prayer.

*Build in times of day where the children will catch you praying.  Maybe at the chaos of making dinner before Daddy arrives home.  Maybe in the rush of getting out the door in the mornings.  Allow them to see that you rely on the Lord as much as you talk about relying on the Lord.

Begin making prayer a priority in your life.  Even if the steps are small at first, the rewards will become evident in your family life.

How do you build prayer into your day to day activities?

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