Sunday, April 2, 2017
I've been thinking about prayer a lot lately thanks to If:Equip's newest study, Enjoying Jesus. Each week, we are spending time exploring a spiritual discipline that has been practiced by others since the beginning of the church's history as tools that help us put ourselves in a position to be more open and available to the Holy Spirit. Our first week, we studied the discipline of prayer. Although one of the most commonly known spiritual disciplines, I know this is an area I tend to neglect for many reasons. One, I am easily distracted and sometimes find it hard to identify times when I can quiet my mind and heart enough to just talk to God. Two, it feel very abstract and difficult to tangibly see God's response, so I often neglect its power. And three, I simply struggle knowing how to pray sometimes.
I loved when my study reminded me that even Jesus' disciples struggled knowing how to pray. They pleaded with Jesus in Luke, asking Him to "Teach us to pray" (Luke 11:1). And Jesus encouraged them to pray "Our Father," like a child speaking to a parent.
As a way to draw closer to God's presence during this Lenten season, AND as a way to build up the discipline of prayer more at home, we started a fun tradition here at home called Prayer Eggs. For forty days leading up to Lent, we have forty plastic eggs each including a slip of paper with the name of one person we pray for together that day. Since we are a family of four, each person got to choose the names of ten people we wanted to pray for. This act itself led to some really sweet conversations one night at the dinner table. Some names were unsurprising - Grandmas and Papas, cousins, and teachers and friends at school, however, a few names reminded me just how important it was to be intentional about these things. At one point, Cruz said he wanted to pray for a little boy who was in his kindergarten class up until winter break. This little boy had a rather rough semester in terms of behavior and management issues, and it was clear he was causing quite the disruption for the teacher and this class of kindergarteners. We aren't sure where this little boy is now or how he's doing in school, but my eyes were full of tears to hear Cruz remember him and assume he could use a few prayers. Beau and I filled up our eggs with people in our lives we love, and people we specifically wanted to lift up in prayer because they are hurting and need to feel God's love.
I love that each night at dinner, it's become habit that before we sit down, the kids take turns grabbing an egg to open up. I love that instead of reciting the same prayer or tending to say the same things over and over again, each prayer is more intentionally focused. I love listening to the kids pray for their friends out loud, and that oftentimes, a name on our egg becomes a focus for conversation during dinner. And I love that we've witnessed God answer specific prayers from our eggs, sometimes at just the right time it seems. One night, we just happened to pick an egg with Great Grandma's name on it, on the night before a doctor's appointment to get her heart checked on. We prayed, and the very next day, we were able to celebrate that Great Grandma's heart was beating just the way it needed to be.
Although April is almost here and Easter is just a couple weeks away, it's not too late to fill up some prayer eggs with your family. Begin April first and choose sixteen people to pray for each day leading up to Easter Sunday. Or keep the tradition going throughout the year with a prayer request jar.
What are some other ways to incorporate prayer at home, both alone and with your families? I'd love to hear ways you have made this spiritual discipline a part of your daily rhythms and routines.