This is a guest post from my IRL friend, Vanessa. She is a stay-at-home mom to an energetic three-year-old, Juliet. They spend their days together reading books, attempting crafts, and occasionally beating tree trunks with large sticks. You can read more about their adventures at Silly Eagle Books.
We’ve been praying with Juliet ever since she was a tiny baby. Every night before she goes to bed, all three of us get together and have a family prayer time. And although, we have made a habit out of this, the actual process we go through has evolved over the years.
When she was an infant, Ben would hold her in his arms and we would stand together and pray with her before placing her in her crib at night. Our prayers would always be about her and about how grateful we were to God for sending her into our lives.
As she began to understand and speak herself, we added praying for others to our prayer time–for our family members, friends, and Compassion children.
To help her get involved in the praying, I decided to borrow an idea from Ben’s family and also from some missionary friends of ours.
Ben grew up with the tradition of placing all the Christmas cards his family received into a basket and then choosing one card at every mealtime. The family would then pray specifically for the family on the Christmas card. Our missionary friends do something similar. They have family photos of all of their supporters and then choose one a day to pray for. My friend Kristi tells me that her kids really connect to the photos and are able to pray more specifically when they can see who they are praying for.
I wanted to make our prayer time more concrete for Juliet and also give her a way to feel like she was part of the process, so I searched for a box that would be our “prayer box.”
It’s an old cigar box that I had picked up awhile back and didn’t know what to do with it. It said “Julieta”, so I couldn’t resist! I thought it was beautiful and it is the perfect size for holding pictures.
Inside, you can see we keep photos of our family members, friends, and Compassion children. Every night, Juliet reaches in selects who we are praying for and then holds it in her hands as we pray. She LOVES it!
We have a lot of Christmas cards in the box and also a few birth announcements. For our family members, I tried to print out pictures of them with Juliet in the picture as well. This always makes her smile when she sees herself with Mimi or Poppy or one of her cousins.
Lately, our process has changed again. Instead of drawing a picture from the prayer box, we simply ask Juliet who we should pray for tonight. Each night, she comes up with someone new! She has grown out of the prayer box–as she no longer needs a visual cue to help her decide who to pray for. And she has even begun to chime in and add her own thoughts to our prayers!
And even though I am kind of sad to see it fall into disuse, I am happy to see my daughter growing and able to take an active role in our nightly prayer time. And I’m sure I’ll be able to find another use for that beautiful box.
What about you? How do you get your children to pray with you? Do you have any family routines or traditions?