Mom, watch out – there’s a big accident at the bottom of the hill.
That’s the text I got from Kaia as I was preparing to leave home, about a half hour after David and the girls got caught in the accident traffic. Later, when the girls told me about it, Jaiya said, “It looked really bad, so I just started praying for everyone.” “Yeah,” Kaia sighed, “sometimes all you can do is pray.” Hold on, I thought. These girls just said they prayed in casual conversation. I pinched myself.
Eight years of Godly Play let the girls practice praying like we do in church. But it wasn’t sinking in at home. We weren’t praying together very often. Not too long ago, I couldn’t tell you much about their individual prayer lives. I had to do something about it.
I started to very intentionally work prayer into our daily conversation in ways that didn’t feel forced or hokey. Working at Forward Movement opened me to many different styles of prayer. My personal favorites are labyrinth or walking prayer, but I find extemporaneous prayer, where you speak your mind to God, easiest to share with the girls.
“Lord, I see some people who could use your peace right now.” I began speaking prayers aloud, rather than saying them in my heart. At first, I prayed in the car when we would see someone struggling or who looked like they needed prayer. Folks in car accidents received prayer. And we didn’t just pray for the homeless or beggars.
We prayed for road ragers, student drivers, and 85-year-old men who swerved into our lane. We prayed for the groups of kids walking around the neighborhood eating Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. If we noticed, we prayed. Cut us off on the highway? We’re praying for you. Hold the door for us at the doctor’s office? We have a prayer for that, too. Our feeling is, who can’t use more prayer?
When the girls tell me school stories about their friends, classmates, and teachers, various folks may reveal a need to be added to the prayer list. When we pray, we sincerely ask God to bless or help those in need of God’s healing touch and favor. Today, Jaiya told me that she prayed for an injured dancer who had to sit out of class. Prayer permeates our lives now in a very authentic way.
Praying in community brings blessings to those who pray and those receiving prayers. You may want to concentrate on adding more extemporaneous prayer to your day, like I did. Or, you can use The Book of Common Prayer or Saint Augustine’s Prayerbook to say some of the shared prayers of The Episcopal Church with your family.
Modeling your prayer patterns doesn’t mean your kids have to copy them. They’ll find their own ways to talk to God – it’s something you can seek and discern together for many years to come. I pray that you enjoy your prayer journey with your family.
How do you share prayer with your kids?