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The Importance of Thoughtful and Careful Family Prayers

February 19, 2010

Several days ago I wrote a post on trusting the Lord while teaching our children to trust in the Gospel.  Its an easier topic to write about than practice.  Yet, I wanted to expand on a few thoughts on how parents can be faithful and intentional in teaching their children to trust the Lord and his good news for sinners.  To be frank, I don’t want to seem as if I believe I am an expert in parenting or discipling.  I am happy to claim that I have to rely on God’s grace more than my expertise.  I wanted to mention a few things about family prayers.

Be thoughtful and intentional in your family prayers

It may not seem like you have your kid’s attention during prayers – especially when their young – but you do.  I’ve been surprised to hear my children, even as they were just learning to talk, repeat things I’ve said in prayers.  They listen and they remember.  With this attention you can teach your children a lot, even with only your 30-second prayers.

I should say, that I am aware that Scripture warns us not to pray for the ears of others in order to glorify ourselves.  Yet, I think parents have warrant to be thoughtful and intentional in our prayers for the ears of our children, so that they will have categories to know how to pray and how to think about God.
There are at least three areas that I want to focus on in my prayers: thankfulness, our neediness as creatures and sinners, and God’s grace in Jesus Christ.

Thankfulness. Especially over meals, where we are experiencing God’s provision, I want to express thankfulness.  My hope is that my kids grow in thankfulness.  I want them to realize that they are creatures sustained by the kind intention of their Creator.  Part of the fierce rebellion of mankind against God is unthankfulness (Romans 1:21), and my desire is to plead with their hearts to be thankful creatures before the Lord.

I also want to express thankfulness for the grace of God in the Gospel.  I often start prayers with, “Father, I thank you for Jesus, who…” and then state an aspect of the Gospel that Christ accomplished on our behalf.  “I thank you for Jesus, who…. (1) died for my sins, so I would not have to, (2) lived the life I could not, or (3) defeated the power of sin.”

Our neediness. Of course, expressing thankfulness for God’s provision and, especially, for the Gospel, is interrelated with our neediness.  I want my children to realize that we are not owed any of these provisions, whether it be food and clothing or the forgiveness of sins.  In fact, its just the opposite.  We are needy creatures, who are sustained by the kindness of our Creator and we are needy sinners who are in need of grace.

God’s grace in Jesus Christ.  You can probably begin to see how all three of these are depended upon each other.  Our thankfulness should ultimately be to God for his grace in his Son, Jesus Christ.  Our children should understand clearly, that their moms and dads trust in the good news of the Gospel for their sins to be forgiven, for eternal life, and for their daily joy.

Fathers, this responsibility falls to you.  That is not to say that mothers should not be faithful in praying with their children and be intentional with the words they use.  Yet, the spiritual leadership of the home is placed in the hands of the husbands and fathers.  Fathers, take the time to be thoughtful and careful with your words over your meals and before your children go to sleep.  The consistent expression of thankfulness for God’s provision and his Gospel goes a long way in instructing your children’s hearts.

I wanted to possibly mention some good reading material for children.  There has been a strong resurgence in really solid children’s books that are God and Gospel centered.  I’ll mention those in a later post.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 2, 2010 5:07 pm

    Good thoughts John. I have been amazed to hear my children’s prayers at times… how saturated with the gospel they are and even how aware of their need of God to change their selfish, black hearts into a new clean, red heart that loves God.
    My pastor… would say that w/ kids… “more is caught than taught.” They are absorbing all the time.

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