4 Tips for your Family Prayer Time
How often do you ask your family members, “How can I pray for you today?” If you’re like me, you pose the question when you see a need or if someone is in a hard situation, but do you ask this on a regular basis? How would our families change if we prayed specifically for one another? Better yet, how could your family be transformed if you prayed together on a regular basis?
My wife and I served in youth ministry for almost 20 years, and during this time I would teach teens how to pray. Sadly, many people limit prayer to a structured activity that many do before eating a meal or going to bed. Those are fine places to start, but Scripture tells us to pray without ceasing. On all occasions, pray. How can we grow our prayer life into this?
A simple acronym for prayer that I taught was A.C.T.S. Adoration. Confession. Thanksgiving. Supplication. If your family prayer life needs a boost, I suggest you go back to these basics.
Adoration is celebrating who God is and affirming His character. “God you are good. You are Holy. You are so patient with me. God, Your love abounds!” The beauty of adoration is it redirects our focus to where it should be—on God. We live in a time and place that is very “me” focused. All that we hear is about self-promotion, self-preservation and feeding our selfish desires. When we pause and think about God and call out who He is, we are centering our thoughts on Him. When we are fixed on Him, our selfish desires fade away and our problems become more right-sized. Adoration seems to be the perfect place to start with our prayer life. Mother Theresa was quoted as saying that we should “seek God’s face before we seek His hand.” I love that approach that we are seeking relationship and connection with God before we ask him to do anything for us.
What would it look like if you asked your son or daughter, “so what do you love about God?” This question causes them to stop and fix their thoughts on Him! If they can’t come up with an answer, then you just discovered something that you can pray for them that day.
Confession. Admitting when we are wrong and confessing that we have sinned are not fun or desirable things to do, but they please the Lord. Also, it is really just agreeing with God. Think about it: God knows exactly what we’ve done and how we are guilty of sin. Confessing it to God doesn’t surprise Him, but it does bring us into right relationship with God. Confession requires a humble heart and a submission to God’s ways. Confession is not a commonplace family activity. Our sinful nature encourages us to hide and cover up our sin. Imagine the freedom we would experience if we had a practice of confessing to our spouse or children. Sin would lose its grip if we would identify it, confess it, and bring it into the light!
Thanksgiving. In all circumstances give thanks! How can we have a heart of gratitude when things are falling apart? How can we rejoice when we are in pain and hurting? Thanking God through prayer for who He is and and what He has done is another practice that shifts our focus. This is an easy aspect of prayer to incorporate into your family prayer time. Simply ask each person in the family to list 3 things they are thankful for.
Supplication. This is a fancy word that means “to ask.” Through prayer we can come to God and humbly ask. Now don’t be mistaken. He is not some cosmic vending machine or genie in the sky who grants our every wish and demand. By no means! Prayer is a gift—a way to connect with a personal God and communicate with Him. Ask Him to help you. Ask Him to help others. Ask Him to align your heart and desires with His. The Bible says that He answers our prayers. Remember that they may be answered with a yes, no, or not yet. Our job is to trust in who He is and that His ways are better than ours.
Prayer changes things! Do you believe that? Prayer has the power to change your family! We encourage you to talk with your family about how you pray individually and how you pray together. If you aren’t praying together much, we encourage you to try to make a habit of it. By using the ACTS prayer guide ask each person to pray for one or two things they love about God. Then ask each person to confess something. Follow that with asking each person to pray with thanksgiving for 2-3 things. End with prayers of supplication—at least one for themselves and one for others. At first this method may feel stiff or stuffy, but it is simply the support that may be needed until prayer time becomes natural and fluent.
Our family has discovered that when we pray together we experience more unity and understanding. Prayer aligns your heart with God’s and when you are walking more and more in step with His Spirit, you will walk more in step as a family.