When I was a child, I was taught to pray individually. Usually followed a short format, but generally free flow within the sections: ACTS.
Acknowledge – the greatness of God
Confess – my sins
Thanksgiving – for all i have
Supplication – ask for stuff 🙂
In my 20s, upon joining the Lutheran Church, I started praying in community. I learnt the Lord’s Prayer by praying together with the congregation week in and week out. Then singing the benediction after that.
Years passed. I became a parent. I wanted to teach my children to pray, but was not sure how to start. I tried praying for my child, following the earlier learnt format.
Then as my daughter grew, I started praying for her, with her, before she slept.
Then when my boy grew older, I started praying for both of them with them, aloud, before they slept. Then I taught them to join me in the Lord’s Prayer. Aloud. But they were shy. So I prayed the Lord’s Prayer by myself, aloud, while with them after my prayer for them. This goes on daily.
I asked them to join me, they declined. I prayed the prayer over them. This went on, I did not stop. (They say kids follow what you do and not what you say.) So I continued every night, I prayed for them with them, then the Lord’s Prayer and then sang the benediction.
Then one night when I prayed the Lord’s Prayer, two voices joined mine. In unison, we completed the prayer. In tune and together, we sang the benediction BLC style. My heart leapt with joy. A small tear formed in my eye.
Then a few nights later, I brought my youngest daughter into the room with her older brother and sister. I prayed for them with them before they slept. Then as I prayed the Lord’s Prayer, two and a half voices joined me. The youngest tried her best (and articulated half the words). We all sang the benediction. I laughed aloud. I felt joy.
My prayer for the kids and with the kids roughly follow a format and is usually not too long. They craft it with me over time and goes somewhat like this:
Heavenly Father, we thank you for all of us in the family. We pray that when we sleep, we will be well rested without any bad dreams. We ask that you take care of us, keeping us all safe from all harm, danger, disease and illness. Keep us strong in the faith, help us to be more like Christ. etc
Then, the Lord’s Prayer then benediction.
So praying for our children started with praying by ourselves and then praying unceasingly, with them by ourselves, then with them together, and the natural progression will be they pray for themselves and for us and with us as well.
A long journey, but it builds faith, and hope, and love…. and is sustained by the love of God and by the love of God. Amen and amen.