2. During the course of your meal, ask your kids about their day – What happened in your world? Use their anxieties as cues for prayer.
3. Pray at bedtime. Include a bed-time Bible story. That daily habit is a powerful and comforting closure to the day.
4. If you drive your children to school, you have a great opportunity to plug into the “hurry-up” of the morning, a restful prayer. Before they get out of the car, pray for them. Bless them. Ask for God to be with them. Someone has said that Christian parents exhort their children to “be good!” – as if they expected mischief. Jewish parents exhort their children to “do something great today!” – as if they expected not only positive behavior, but excelling conduct.
5. Take each of your children out, once a week for a private time with Dad or Mom. Make prayer a part of that time. Do it casually, naturally. Lace the presence of God into daily life, as if it were not a Sunday thing! It isn’t, you know. Read a scripture together. Give a Psalm as a gift to your child – read it over them. Give them other promises from the Bible.
6. Once a week or so, do more than saying grace at the table, do a round of prayer with each family member praying sentence prayers. Let the practice evolve into a full-fledge family worship event.
7. Establish seasonal faith celebrations. On Passover, Jewish families experience a Seder meal together. One of the practices of conservative Jews is to leave the door slightly ajar and an empty chair for the prophet Elijah – just in case he shows up to announce the coming of the Messiah. Improvise. Leave a chair open for Jesus. Welcome him as the unseen guest who lives in the home. Talk about his physical and visible second coming to your children.
8. Make a family prayer list. Pray over the needs on the list – at least weekly.
10. Keep a family prayer log. Howard Hendricks of Dallas Theological Seminary says years ago, his wife created a family prayer journal. On one side was listed – “We Asked!” On the other side – “He Answered!” Hendricks said, “I would not substitute anything for what this notebook did to teach my children the theology of prayer.” This brings reality to prayer. It makes it about real things. It chronicles the family’s spiritual journey. What a legacy!
11. Lace special days with special prayer. During the holidays, open the Christmas cards at dinner when the family is together. Pray over the loved ones who sent the cards before they are hung on the mantle. In November, every day give thanks for something different. Each week, pick out another family who has been a blessing – send them a card, do family phone call that expresses thanks, make a visit to them bearing a thanksgiving gift. Find someone who has always been kind and helpful to others, even if what they did never touched your life, and go give them the gift of gratitude – the firemen down the street, teachers, city-workers, hospital employees, retired ministers and wives. Every birthday, have members of the family pray prayers of blessing over the celebrant.
12. Create a “sacred space” in your home where you meet for prayer – a family altar. Set aside a room for a chapel, if you have the space. If not, designate a place where the family meets God. Put out visible reminders of the sacredness of the space – a Bible, pictures on the wall, study helps, a globe or map to remind you of missions, the family prayer list, anointing oil.