Prayer

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When a child enters our lives, it can become more difficult to set aside time to pray. The new responsibilities for a precious, fragile life can stir up a wealth of worries.  Our natural response may be to become busy and anxious, not realizing the real solution is to pause and connect. As parents, how much more than ever do we need to call upon “Our Father in heaven.”

When Jesus taught us to pray (Matthew 6), he wasn’t just giving us words to recite, he was teaching us how to relate to God in a new way. The God who would rip the temple veil when Jesus died (Matthew 27:50-51), opened the curtain (Hebrews 10:20) so that we could boldly approach God with confidence, not as slaves, but as children (Galatians 4:7). In teaching us to pray, Jesus was guiding us in how to connect with God under the new covenant. 


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Jesus said in Matthew 6:5-6 that we should not pray “as the hypocrites, for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Most certainly, I tell you, they have received their reward. But you, when you pray, enter into your inner room, and having shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” The main issue here is not the location, it’s the heart. God wants us to pray to Him and for Him. As Jesus told the Samaritan woman, there’s no special place we have to go to worship (John 4:21).

In his book, “Prayer,” Richard J Foster describes twenty-one types of prayer – all of which could be summed up as taking a moment to acknowledge His presence and your relationship, whether listening, speaking, or in silence with God. Just as there is no magic location, there are no magic words for speaking with God. We are told not to “heap up empty phrases” (Matthew 6:7). Rather Jesus says, “the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such to be his worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24).

So, what should prayer look like? Sometimes it can look like communicating as a couple in love. It could be a quick whisper of a sweet nothing, a long deep conversation, an argument, a passing hello, or just day to day casual talk. Sometimes it can look like a young child, talking to a parent, asking for help, guidance, or to have a need met. It can be talking through the day, through fears and anxieties, and giving them up to be taken care of (Philippians 4:6). It is all of this and more because prayer’s not about following a formula, but about connecting with God in all the ways He relates to us, and that doesn’t always include us talking. As Charles Spurgeon said, “True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise nor a vocal performance. It is far deeper than that – it is spiritual transaction with the Creator of Heaven and Earth.”

Jesus said we must worship in the Spirit. Prayer helps us “keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25). The Spirit intercedes for us, knowing the words and needs when we don’t. As Paul said in Romans 8:26, “In the same way, the Spirit also helps our weaknesses, for we don’t know how to pray as we ought. But the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which can’t be uttered.” Prayer is for our benefit and it glorifies God. We can enter in truthfully and flawed to be relieved of our worries and shame. We are guided in truth (John 16:13) and are set free (John 8:32). We are empowered against temptation (Matthew 6:13, 26:41).

Prayer is more than joining with the Spirit. To pray is to join with the saints and to intercede with and on behalf of them. When Jesus taught us to pray, he began, “Pray like this: ‘Our Father in heaven.'” And the rest of the Lord’s prayer continues with “us” and “we.” We especially ought to intercede for our children. In the gospels children were brought to Jesus for his blessing. “They were bringing to him little children, that he should touch them, but the disciples rebuked those who were bringing them. But when Jesus saw it, he was moved with indignation, and said to them, ‘Allow the little children to come to me! Don’t forbid them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Most certainly I tell you, whoever will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child, he will in no way enter into it.’ He took them in his arms, and blessed them, laying his hands on them” (Mark 10:13-16).

No matter your situation, it is the right time to pray (James 5:13-15). Paul said to, “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17). In Spirit and truth are the right way (John 4:24). If you can only utter a “Thank you, Lord” here and a “Forgive me” there, it is good. If you pray for 30 seconds or 30 minutes, it is good. If you pray down on your knees or down the freeway with a child screaming in the back seat, it is good. There is no condemnation for those in Jesus (Romans 8:1). We weren’t told to pray as a regulation to be met, but as an invitation to connect and draw upon a God who is near, who cares, who provides, and who gives rest. It is a tool that empowers us against sin. Jesus said, “Watch and pray, that you don’t enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).

It’s particularly important to emphasize to our children the boldness and ease with which we can come to Christ in prayer. It’s all too easy to confuse them with ceremony and rules (bow your head, fold your hands, etc.). While these practices help keep us from distractions, it’s important to consider the uniqueness of the child. Help him to set aside anything that would distract from the goal and purpose of prayer which is to truthfully connect with God in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. And help him to discover how he can draw near to a God who is near to him.

Consider challenging your family to pray in a new way, whether it’s longer prayers, shorter prayers, or silent prayers – whether standing instead of sitting, eyes opened instead of closed. Connect with God in a new way. 


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0 Comments

  1. Tony Clark says:

    Hey Christina
    I’m a pray without ceasing kinda guy in the way of ‘ talking while I’m walking ‘.
    A lot of people would mistake me for talking to myself because – well you forget where you are sometimes – to be honest though I don’t think I could survive without it.
    Particularly for the youth, life is hard enough so your comment ” the real solution is to pause and connect ” does hold a lot of wisdom.
    Great post
    PS
    Love the picture you chose, says it all in looking for the pause button.

    1. Christina Dronen says:

      Thanks Tony, I love that you pray while you walk! I used to do that more and then I started judging those prayers as inadequate and got out of the habit. It’s my hope to get back into the habit again!

  2. Melissa Henderson says:

    Amen. Pray without ceasing.

  3. Edna Davidsen says:

    You’re right, Jesus did not only teaching us to pray. He did also teaching us.”
    I’m not familiar with Richard J. Foster’s book, but it sounds like a good read.
    Your walk-through the different prayer-perspectives in this blog post were eyeopening.
    My favourite sentence of this blog post was:
    “Prayer is for our benefit, and it glorifies God.”
    If I don’t pray in the morning and the evening it’s like something is missing in my life.
    It does not have to be a long prayer, as you say, the strength lays in the daily connection with God through the prayer-life.
    Thank you, and God bless you and your work!
    Edna Davidsen

    1. Christina Dronen says:

      Thanks Edna! I think the many ways to pray reminds us how big God is. He connects with us in ways that no other can.
      I certainly could pray more!

  4. Marcie Cramsey says:

    This is a much needed post today. I like your quote, “Prayer helps us “keep in step with the Spirit.” It surely does.
    And this is something we want for our children. Helping them know how to keep in step with the Spirit gives them the power to live fully pleasing and glorifying lives for our God in heaven.
    Thank you for your wisdom!

    1. Christina Dronen says:

      I’m so glad that this is encouraging to you, Marcie.
      And you’re right – keeping in step with the Spirit is the best way for our kids to walk in a way that is pleasing to God, not by might but by the Spirit!

  5. Tonya says:

    Christina,
    Thank you for sharing such a beautiful post about how critical prayer is to parenting. As a parent who prayed her kiddo through childhood, and is now watching him venture into adulthood, I can attest to the desperate pleas for my son that frequently enter the ears of Our Father. God hears our prayers and understands our hearts for He is a parent too.
    Thank you for such a beautiful post.

    1. Christina Dronen says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Tanya.
      I think it is comforting too, to consider that God cares even more for our children than we do. Our prayers for our children are welcomed.

  6. Emily | To Unearth says:

    Great point about the different ways to pray! I find it can be a hard balance at times to know how to come before God. On the one hand, He’s the God of the universe on His throne, but on the other, He’s our Father who knows us intimately. I love your point about no matter what, it’s always the right time to pray!

  7. Nate Hultz says:

    Wow! This was a very challenging and thought provoking post. I have been on this journey of desiring to get even closer with God. However, I have 2 three-year-olds and work full-time (45 hours) and part-time in youth ministry. I miss Jesus!
    On the other hand, I’m constantly promoting this idea what your children see teach them more than what you say as a parent. I have failed a lot over the last few months/year since they have been getting older. I’ve been on such a journey that I need to read and hear this today! Thank you for feeling prompted to write on this. Blessings to you and the impact you are having.

    1. Christina Dronen says:

      Thanks Nate!
      2 three year olds can take a lot of time and attention – not to mention two more jobs!
      I think those very busy times are ideal for little prayers throughout the day. And I think those little prayers – like many conversations can draw us in to deeper longer conversations with God.
      I absolutely agree that our most powerful teaching tool is our example.

  8. D Scott Prindle says:

    I’m like Tony. I pray all the time. But there are different kinds of prayers I pray. Thoughts. Conversations. Intercessions. In the Spirit. Groaning.
    The one kind of prayer I need to do more of is… listening prayer. Prayer is communication with God. It’s so easy to be in a one way conversation.
    So I need to listen to His voice. Way more than I do. I know I miss many opportunities because I’m not listening. I think my prayer is done when I’m done talking.
    In the context of children (our are all adults), kids don’t like to listen. And sometimes they don’t like the answers they are given.
    Paul exhorts me to wean myself off the milk and eat solid food. My food is to do the works of the Father, but how can I do them if I’m not listening? So I need the meat of His word. I need to listen.

    1. Christina Dronen says:

      Definitely, we could all certainly listen more! There have been times when I intentionally practiced listening. Honestly, it usually felt strange, because I rarely ‘heard’ anything specific.. maybe more felt convictions.
      But healthy relationships and conversations go two ways! Wonderful point.

  9. Christina Dronen says:

    I know what you mean, Emily. God is so great we don’t want to dishonor Him by somehow praying wrong, but at the same time we don’t want to get so hung up on that, that it stops us from praying!

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