Friday, February 15, 2013

Busting out of a Prayer Rut

Does your family ever get stuck in a prayer rut?

Ours sounds like this...

"Dear God, thanks for legos..." "...and cookies..." "...and our dog..." "...and my best friend..." "...and cookies..." 
"Hey!  I already said that!"
"Well I can say it too!"
"Can not!!"
"Alrighty then, there goes family prayer time.  Off to bed you little cretins, before I really give you something to pray about!"

Not exactly what God was hoping to hear.

Sometimes our family prayer rut gets so deep and disappointing that we take a break from it for awhile.  Then, weeks later, I think to ask, "Hey, kiddos, you're praying to God on your own, right?"



That's not what God was hoping to hear, either.

So... how do we get out of the prayer vacuum or prayer rut this Lenten season?

Here are a few ideas for you and your family.

Lenten Prayer Chain
from Mustard Seeds — a great blog about building kids' faith

You've probably done a few count-down paper chains in your lifetime.  This is more of a count-up chain.

Each day during Lent take a minute as a family to individually write a prayer on a strip of colorful construction paper (8.5" x 1.5" is a nice size for jotting down a quick note to God).  Staple the first strip in a circle.  Subsequent strips slide through the previous circle, then formed into a circle and stapled.  (You probably didn't need that much direction, but there it is.  Just in case.)

Throughout the 40 days of Lent, watch your prayers grow.  Estimate how many prayers it would take for the chain to reach heaven.  (This is a trick question.  Do you know the answer?)

There is no rule that you can only write one prayer a day.  Except for maybe you have to cut your own extra strips.

You might have a few prayer prompts on hand to encourage your kids to think of different kinds of prayers.  
Dear God, 
  • thanks for...
  • I need help with...
  • I am so glad that...
  • I wonder about...
  • I'm scared of...
  • please take care of...
print me!
Hey, maybe I should just whip up a quick printable of those prayer prompts.  Here you go!!

On Easter you might disassemble the chain and review the prayers.  Which ones has God already answered or started to work on?  Give him big thanks!!

Alternatives to a prayer chain include writing prayers on slips of paper and hanging them
Modern Parents, Messy Kids
from a tree, mantle, or chandelier.  Egg-shaped or cross-shaped slips of paper would be cute, if you can stand cutting them all out, or if you can get your hands on a nifty large paper punch, or if you have some Martha Stewart- esque minions on hand!

Lenten Journal
from Stone Soup for Five — brilliant Bible journaling ideas!
After dinner each night, or as part of the bedtime routine, or once a week on Sundays after church (or, really, any convenient time of day for your brood), take 10-15 minutes for a Bible reading & response routine.  If you like, capitalize it to sound really important.  Like this: Bible Reading & Response Routine.  Or turn it into an acronym: BRRR.  Hey kids, it's time to BRRR!

Back to business.  

To create a reverent mood, play soothing music in the background or light a candle.  Provide each family member with a small journal or notebook.  As a family read a Bible verse aloud.  Then quietly write (or illustrate) a response to God.  What did you hear God saying to you in the verse?  What words or phrases seem most important in your own life?  Can you use those words from the Bible in your own prayer?  

You might use these questions as journal prompts:
"I hear you, God, saying..."
"Hear me saying, God..."

Kids will probably need to see some examples of turning scripture into prayer.  Here's a model you can share.  Your own examples will be powerful as well.
Then Jesus told his disciples, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."   Matthew 16:24
The words that stick out for me are highlighted here:
Then Jesus told his disciples, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."
You can see how those words become a part of my written prayer below:
Jesus, I do want to follow you.  My heart and soul want to, but my actions don't always match those of one of your followers.  It is so hard to deny myself.  Will you please help me to look beyond my own interests and needs, and look up to you instead?  I'm not sure exactly what my cross is.  I guess it is my burden, the things that wear me out and drag me down.  It could be the things that get in the way of my relationship with you.  Please help me to figure out what my cross is, to take it up and carry it so I can do a better job of following your example of how to live a life of loving others.
Here are several Easter verses for your BRRR sessions, in no particular order:
John 19:1-3 • John 19:28-30John 10:10-11Luke 23:27Psalms 34:8John 3:16Isaiah 1:18John 3:1-3Matthew 27:57-60Matthew 27:65-66John 16:20, 22Matthew 28:1-9
What I love about both of these activities is they force us to slow down our prayers, to capture them on paper.  As a result, we become more reverent and thoughtful in our conversations with God.  And with a paper trail, we can also look back and see how God works on our prayers, even when we weren't paying attention.  

You are so very good to us.  Thank you for patiently listening to every prayer.  Thank you for patiently waiting during our prayer droughts and prayer ruts.  And thank you for continually filling us with your Holy Spirit and your Living Word to bring our prayers to a place of deeper conversation with you.  Help us to model a faithful and dedicated prayer habit for our children during this Lenten season and well beyond. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to hear your thoughts, comments, and questions. Let's keep the conversation going...