Friday, June 28, 2013

Prayer resources

So far in this prayer series, there have been three books about prayer:

There have been five posts about praying with children and in families (1, 2, 3, 4 & 5).

Finally we turn to some prayers themselves.  I'm sure there are plentiful resources of written prayers around.   Here are four ideas:

1. Old Service Books
If you grew up in a Christian home or if you have connections to older Christians or ministers, chances are they are some old Books of Common Order/ Common Prayer or Books of Services and  Prayers lying around. Get your hands on them if you can.  Of course, it is very possible you attend a church that still uses a prayer book of some type - fantastic!  Do you realise the resource sitting in front of you? 

Some are full of prayers for all times of the year, for all sorts of life situations and have many prayers praising God and Jesus.

I am very privileged to possess two old service books of my Grandad's:
  • The Book of Common Order of the Church of Scotland (1940).  Inscribed as being presented to my grandfather in 1965.
  • A Book of Services and Prayers (for churches of the Congregational Order), 1959
I tend to rewrite the ones I like the best into more modern language, so they feel more natural to pray.
I think our predecessors did a much better job of praying than many of our generation do, so I like to learn from them and keep using their prayers.

2. The Valley of Vision: Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions
About 200 prayers about God, Christ, his saving work and specific to situations and circumstances. Yes, they are old-fashioned and are full of thees and thous, which I have to translate as I pray to make any sense of them. Some are a bit archaic, but some are absolute gold. The ones I especially like I have rewritten in modern language and expressions which I find more natural to pray.  A great resource.


3. Prayers from the bible
The bible is a source to be harvested for prayer.  I know it sounds obvious, but it doesn't mean we automatically do it!  Psalms are often already prayers or easy to turn into prayers and many of Paul's prayers can be prayed verbatim.  But whenever you read the bible, be willing to turn whatever you have read into a prayer - whether praise of God, confession upon realisation of sin, the desire to be changed aligning with God's word.  Have a pen and notepaper handy and try it.  You will find yourself praying from the bible more and more. 

4.  The Prayer Project
I have decided to restart my prayer blog again - one prayer per week, either from the bible, one of the sources mentioned above or just perhaps from my own thoughts.  Perhaps you might also find them helpful to get you started.



Monday, June 24, 2013

Praying as a family - specific prayer

The last post was about regular general family prayers. However there are many times where we turn to prayer as a family for a specific reason. I mentioned some of these previously, for we want to be able to pray anytime. 

When children are trusted with information about people around them, we can turn specific news into opportunities for prayer. Sometimes these are praise points – someone became a Christian! Or is having a baby! Or is getting married! Other times they are prayer points – someone is sick or had an accident.

As they become more aware of the world and current events, we can also turn these into opportunities for prayer. Perhaps we will come before God about wars, natural disasters, elections, etc.

We have found that when our missionary updates come through, it is a great night to skip the general prayers and focus on that person or family in particular. We read the update together, talk about what it means, how they might feel in similar situations and then all pray for them. So if you are a missionary or ministry worker who sends out updates – let me encourage you to make them family friendly, then we can all pray for you!

That completes these 5 posts about family prayer and praying with children.   
Coming next: some prayer resources.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Praying as a family - general prayers

The ideas of praying together as a family are no different than praying with each of your children individually. The only requirement is that it is manageable for each age represented!

When we pray together as a family we do it after dinner at the table. We have a set of prayer cards which have a photo and some simple prayers. Everyone gets a card and we pray going around the table twice in order from youngest to oldest. The first time around we pray from our cards, the second time around we thank God for something. We go from youngest to oldest so the youngest ones don’t have their prayer points already used up by the time it is their turn!

The cards have both written prayers and photos so that:
  • the non-reader can pray a simple prayer by recognising the person in the photo
  • the early reader can read out the prayers
  • the confident reader can read out the prayer or change it
  • Mum & Dad usually add extra things to their prayers

We have 6 categories of cards:
  • God & Jesus
  • Our family - the five of us
  • Extended family
  • Godparents and Compassion children
  • Staff at church & ES (these are the colleagues, friends and co-workers that our children know)
  • Missionaries / overseas workers

They all sit in a business card display box, you can see a photo below. We just grab whichever ones are on top for that night and put them at the back of the pile again when finished.


I have realised recently that I need to update them all – they were all copied from the ones we do for our kids individually, so they are all singular (I/me). I want to change them to be plural for the family (we/us).

If you like this idea here is how we did it: I bought business cards to print out, printed them in colour, laminated them as full sheets, then cut out the individual cards. They do last longer if laminated, but they generally need to be updated every 6-12 months, so it doesn’t really matter. The holder was from an office supply store. Again, just like the written prayers for readers (link) it takes some time the first time you do it, but after that, it is quick and easy to update.

What other ideas do you have for praying together as a family?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Prayer with more competent readers

Continuing from babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers, we come to older children who are reading.

Once our children were able to read competently, we typed out prayers they could say.

These are intended to:

1. Help teach them a way to pray
I am sure you could teach children to pray by praying aloud and not writing out prayers. However, I pray from written notes myself and find it helps me pray purposefully, broadly and biblically. We have decided to write out prayers for our kids at this stage to help them set good early habits of broad ranging prayers. They include praise points, confessions and prayer requests.

2. Give confidence to pray
By having written prayers and not having to think up things on the spot, they are more confident to pray. However, they do not have to stick to the prayer points, in fact we encourage them to go ‘off script’ as we often have more up to date information about the people from week to week.

3. Give familiarity with bible passages and how to use them in prayer
Where possible, we write prayers from bible passages so they can learn how to do so themselves.

Our format is to provide prayers for each day of the week, which include 3-4 categories.
  • a praise point about God, Jesus or the Spirit and their character
  • prayer and praise points about an immediate family member (us 5 and both grandparents)
  • prayer and praise points about godparents and their family / extended family
  • prayer and praise about school, a ministry / missionary, or church.

We have kept photos in these ones too – it looks good and is fun to organise and update.

****


A sample is below:

GOD
  • God – you love us even when we don’t deserve your love. Thank you for loving me all of the time.
  • God, you are compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. (Psa 86:15)

DADDY
  • Thank you for Daddy, that he loves me and cares for me.
  • Thank you for fun times we have together – playing soccer, chess and other games.
  • I am sorry for times when I am disobedient. Help me to listen to Daddy.
  • Thank you God for Daddy’s work and that he can tell people about Jesus every day.
  • Please let the word of Christ live in Daddy and that he will teach others with wisdom. (Col 3:16)
  • Please help him to always speak the truth of Jesus and to be loving to others.

SCHOOL
  • Dear God, thank you for my teachers. Thank you that they teach me about new things and how the world works.
  • I am sorry if I am disobedient or I lie in class.
  • Please help me to do my work properly.
  • Please help me to be obedient in class, to listen and to be helpful.
  • Thank you for my school friends –___________________.
  • I am sorry for the times when I am mean to my school friends.
  • Please help me to be a kind friend and a sharing friend.
  • Please help me to look out for others who don’t have friends and to be nice to them.
  • Please God, let my friends know that Jesus loves them, and he wants to be friends with them.

Yes, this is a bit of work to organise the first time - but it has been fantastic for our older two both in being able to pray with us or to start praying on their own.  They tell me when they want to update it with new prayer points and photos and then we do it together on the computer.   

I see no reason why this format cannot last for years to come.  It is essentially what I do myself but in a more simplified format.   

What has worked for this age in your family?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Prayer with babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers

Keeping in mind the principles from the last post – that we want to pray with our children and model that it’s normal – it makes sense that we want to model prayer from the earliest stage. I remember walking with our babies to their cots at night, praying ‘with’ them at the end of day – often they were simple “thank you for my day and please help me sleep well tonight” prayers, sometimes there was a bit more.

We started to get into the habit of saying grace as soon as they were starting solids (I never thought of saying grace before a feed – perhaps I should have!)

With toddlers, we often prayed for emergency vehicles with their sirens on: “Please God thank you for the ambulance drivers, help them to drive safely, get to the people in need, please help the doctors at the hospital to be able to help them get better and please help them all to learn about Jesus.”

We always found the end of the day to be a good time for prayer. It was also bible time and both naturally fit together. It is calm time and a lovely way to finish the day together.

Once our children could recognise people in photos (maybe from 6-12 months), we had a ‘prayer diary’. It was a simple A4 sheet with photos.

It was set up for the days of the week, with three categories for each day: family, extended family/godparents, ministry/other.

This has worked for years. In fact, until they could read independently, this has been the way we prayed with our children. As they got older, they loved helping organise it – choose who was on which day and it helped with learning to recognise everyone’s names in print as they were written underneath their photo.

Our youngest, age 5, still uses this as she is not ready to progress to written prayers yet.

I have included a table of it, so you can see an example.  It is a very bland example - usually it is a colourful photo display with everyone's real names.  However, since I felt I could not put up all these people's photos & names without permission, I have just given you an edited version.


DAY
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Sunday
Family
Daddy

Mummy

Son

Daughter

Daughter

Nanna & Grandad
Ma-Ma & Kon-Kon
Family / Friends
Aunty,
Uncle & family
Aunty & Uncle


Son’s godparents


Daughter’s godparents      
Daughter’s godparents


Great Nanna


Teachers and school
friends
Ministry/
Other
Daddy’s work.
Staff & families at church/ES
Missionary


Missionary
Missionary


Missionary


Compassion children
Church & R-2s.
Friends  at church.

This is the one of the ways we have found that works well for us with little ones.

Next time - prayer with more confident readers.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Praying with children

Over the next few posts, I’ll share some ideas about praying with children, mainly covering the 0-10 age group.

Basics first.

1. Pray for your children.

Make sure you pray for your children. Use the types of prayers in Praying the Scriptures for your Children and you will be praying biblical prayers on a wide range of issues.

I know some parents pray daily for each of their children. That is great and is a wonderful discipline. For myself, I have a five day cycle that works through us all. It keeps me a bit fresher for each and more detailed for that person on that day.

I don’t think you have to follow a set strategy or format, just make sure you are praying for your family members.

Miller makes this comment in A Praying Life:
It didn’t take me long to realise I did my best parenting by prayer. I began to speak less to the kids and more to God. (p59)
Prayer for our children acknowledges God is in control, that we cannot change the hearts of anyone and that we call on Him to do his work in our loved ones.


2. Pray with your children

One of the most important things in praying with children is showing that it’s normal. Anyone can do it, anytime.

We don’t need a special time, a special situation, special words or a special voice to pray.

We just need to turn to God and trust in Him.

So, we can pray anytime, which may include:
  • At the beginning of the day
  • At bedtime
  • Before meals – thanking God for the food
  • When we have fears / bad dreams – asking God to take them away
  • For our special events – starting school or pre-school, birthdays, etc.
  • For world events – elections, natural disasters, wars, etc
  • About issues – problems with friends, when people are sick
  • About character development – eg. needing help to be kind, gentle, compassionate
  • For forgiveness - when we’ve done the wrong thing
  • For emergencies – eg. for emergency vehicles with their sirens on

I’m sure you can think of many other times and situations when you would pray with your kids.

How do we pray? 

In an age-appropriate way and in words they understand. As they get older, the language we use will progress, showing them how prayer can come clearly from the bible, and also be more detailed and more varied.

So with a 2 year old you might pray, “Thank you God for my sister and that you love her”

With a 6 year old, you might pray, “Thank you God for my sister, thank you that you love her and sent Jesus to save her. Help her to love you more each day.”

With a 10 year old, you might pray, “Thank you for my sister and the fun we have together. Help her to always know she belongs to you, and please make your word a lamp to her feet and a light to her path. I am sorry for the times when I am not kind to her, please forgive me and help me to be kind”


Over the next few posts, I’ll share some ideas about prayer with various ages of young children, starting with the youngest – babies, toddlers & pre-schoolers. This is a rather personal series - it is really a collection of the things that have worked for us as a family. I would love to hear your input throughout on other ideas that have worked for you.


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Staus report: June

Finishing:  Colossians talks.  Three down, final one on Tuesday.  Have enjoyed them and learnt much.

Issuing:  a number of challenges in my talks.  However I want to make sure I also heed them.  Always a challenge to preach to yourself as well.

Reading:  Genesis, Psalms, Matthew.  Having finished my very slow reading of Luke, have returned to continuous bible reading, starting back at beginning of both Old and New Testaments.  Continuing with a Psalm per day, Psalm 66 today.

Also reading:  C.S. Lewis: A Life, by Alister McGrath; In the Company of Others, Jan Karon (last of her novels on my list, 'sniff').  Also about to peruse Fix It Yourself! A practical guide to essential home maintenance and repairs as I need some plumbing information.

Walking:  most days.  No running for now, may start again soon.

Hanging: curtains and a quilt.  Loving the more homely feel of curtains in the rumpus room and seeing my beautiful William Morris quilt on the lounge room wall.


Cooking:  experimenting with curries in the slow cooker.  Making soups for mid-week lunches on my own.

Benefiting: from slowing down.

Loving: regular days off with my husband.

Thankful: for so many things.