Prayer is one of the best ways to unify a family. It has the power to bring everyone onto the same page, as everyone comes together to focus on God. There are a lot of factors that can feed into families’ feelings of disconnection right now, but one thing’s for sure: God created families, and He strongly desires for your family’s strength and unification, both in good times and bad.
For 2000 years, in times of fear or safety, depression or joy, scarcity or plenty, Christians have prayed. When we haven’t known what to do or say, we’ve prayed. When we’ve been overcome with gratitude, peace, or happiness, we’ve prayed. So even in the midst of separation, loss, heartbreak, and anxiety—if you’re feeling disheartened at the current state of your household—we invite you to pray with and for one another.
(We’re hosting a live webinar on Prayer Tuesday, April 28! Join us on Facebook Live. We can’t wait to see you there.)
8 ways to pray with your family
- Share your joys. A lot of times prayer can feel pretty intimidating to do in front of other people. We might feel pressure to share something deep, personal, or painful. But prayer is not just about asking God for help, or telling Him all about what’s going wrong with our lives. One of the most important prayers we can offer up to God is that of gratitude, because there’s a lot more to be thankful for than we often recognize. If your family isn’t usually one for group prayer, you may consider coming together to simply pray over the good things going on. It’s much less intimidating than praying for someone else or sharing something you need help with. (That being said, those are still important prayers, of course! More on that soon.)
- Pray over your children. Another way to ease your kids into the act of communal prayer is by giving them a free pass to sit and listen. Pray over your children, in front of your children. Lift up their friends, relationships, school work, upcoming college tours, struggles, and your gratitude for them, and simply allow them to hear you speaking over them. No, this isn’t a free pass for them to never have to pray aloud; it’s an opportunity to model doing something they may feel a little nervous or uncomfortable doing. It takes practice to become comfortable with prayer, so try being open and vulnerable first, that your kids may see it and replicate it on their own prompting.
- Speak life over your community. As we’re all fully aware by now, the coronavirus has hit communities across the world in extremely difficult ways. Jobs have been lost, hospitals are overrun, essential workers must risk their own health and safety to serve others, and groups of friends and extended families can no longer gather. Choose a community your family feels invested in and pray over them. This could be your child’s school, your church, neighborhood, sports teams, or any other group of people on your heart. You might even ask your teen if they have anyone in mind they’d like to pray over.
- Create a prayer jar. Sometimes, it’s easiest to share our burdens when we’re not tasked with saying them out loud. Put the jar (or bowl, or cup, or basket) somewhere in the house and invite each family member to place their prayer requests in it whenever they please. Do this at the start of the week, so that by the end of the week you can all come together and read them. Let each family member choose a piece of paper and read it aloud, then, lift up that prayer together.
- Pray in pairs. This is probably something you or your kids have done in group church settings like small groups and youth groups. Why not implement the prayer method into your family? Have one parent pray to open, then break off into groups, and come back together and close in prayer as a unit.
- Share your fears. One way to get vulnerable with your family is to talk about something you’re fearful or anxious about. Invite your kids to do the same, and either elect one parent to pray over each of those fears, or go around and have each person pray over the person to their right or left.
- Pray over one common goal. Do you each wish to take that family vacation? Or is there a project you’re all working on together? Do you hope to keep up a new routine you’re started in quarantine? Whatever it is, come together as a family and clothe one thing in prayer. It may just be the strength and unity you all need to complete that goal.
- Recite a prayer. The Book of Common Prayer has some really great prayers you and your family can recite together. Choose prayers on topics that are meaningful to your family, like social justice, the family, giving thanks, or the church.
We urge you to begin praying with your family this week. Whether this is your first or hundredth time praying together, there’s no wrong time to pause, rest, and come together before God. (Check out our Conversation Kit on Prayer for more!)