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Building Habits of Prayer With Your Children

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
May 2, 2024 3:42 am

Building Habits of Prayer With Your Children

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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May 2, 2024 3:42 am

Parenting can be intense, especially raising young children. Moms, especially, have a desperate need for God’s help every single day. Sarah Holmstrom and Stephanie Thurling want to encourage families to make prayer time a regular part of their routine, and they suggest fun games and traditions that can help get your kids more engaged with prayer.


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Yes, I believe praying for my kids is important, but we get so busy it's hard to keep up with it.

Prayer sounds like a good idea, but how do I start? My kids need lots and lots of prayer if you get my drift. Of course, I pray for my kids all the time, but help me Lord. Well, do you pray for your children, and if so, a lot or a little? Do you pray with confidence or maybe some desperation? Today on Focus on the Family, we'll explore why prayer is an important part of your parenting journey and how you can activate your children to pray. Thanks for joining us. I'm John Fuller and your host is Focus President and author Jim Daly. And Jim, this is an appropriate topic for today, the National Day of Prayer here in the U.S. Well, it's great.

When you said that about confidence or desperation, the answer is yes and yes. Some days it's confidence and some days it's desperation, but I want to encourage our listeners and viewers to take a few moments sometime today to pray for this National Day of Prayer. Pray for the nation, for the president.

I don't care about the party. We got to pray for who's in authority over us. That's what the scripture talks about. Pray for wisdom, obviously, for godly wisdom.

And then pray for your marriage and your family, and that's a good way to end on this National Day of Prayer. You know, I would hope as Christian parents that we approach prayer with more confidence than fear. And, you know, I've often said I have these unbelieving friends that don't believe in Jesus, and when we look nervous, one of them said to me, if you guys are nervous, I should be really nervous, because we are people of hope.

And the Lord said, fear not. How can we live each day in that kind of context? It's not always easy and we recognize that, but that's what we should be about. People should look at us and go, wow, why are you so joyful and so hopeful, right?

That should be our characteristic. So today we're going to talk about raising prayerful kids and doing so in such a way that really puts the Lord on display in such a positive way. That said, I get it, praying about your kids in front of your kids can feel a little odd. Gene and I have done that. I mean, you know, we do, every morning we do a devotion. We pray together, and sometimes the boys caught it. Sometimes they're, like, right in their cereal.

But it is kind of interesting. Here at Focus, we want you to be the most equipped parents you can be, and that's one of the reasons that we're airing content like this, and you can go to the website, get far more. We have age and stage content for you. We have so many great helps for you as a parent.

Tap into it and, you know, get connected to us. Yeah, the links are in the show notes or give us a call. Well, today we have Sarah Holstrom and Stephanie Thirling with us. They're co-founders of a ministry called Raising Prayerful Kids, and together they've written a book with that same title, Raising Prayerful Kids, Fun and Easy Activities for Building Lifelong Habits of Prayer.

We have copies of that here at the ministry, and the link is in the program notes. Steph and Sarah, welcome to Focus on the Family. It's so fun to see young moms here. I just love it. Oh, we are so honored. Okay, so your kids are how old? This is the best part. So fun. Okay, so my oldest is 11 and a half.

He'd want you to know. Almost 12, and then I've got almost 10. These are descriptions that they gave you.

Tell them I'm almost 10. Don't forget the half. 7 and 5.

So we are kind of out of that, you know, keeping them alive stage. Yeah, you're in the fun time. It's so fun.

It is a great time. And how about yours? Our kids are almost the same age. So mine are 12, 9, and 8.

Alright, that is awesome. That helps every mom listening to kind of know what you're living, and some are there, some are gonna be there, and some are way past there. So Steph, let's start with you. You have three, and Sarah four, as you said, and all in that preschool age to elementary school. You admit parenting young kids is intense.

Do we have an amen to that? I mean, you're so hands-on, and Sarah, in fact, you have a story about a 911 call. I think you did.

I do. We had a couple of those, but what's your 911 story? Yeah, you're not a failure.

Thank you. I love that you asked me that because when this 911 call happened, I called my husband and I said, we're never telling anybody about this. You're telling everybody.

Let's just tell a couple of million people. Well, I was at home with my kids, and you know, this was five years ago, so the youngest was a baby. It's good you were there with your kids.

I was there, right? My husband wasn't there, but my daughter, the two-year-old, she peed her pants again, and we all know how that goes, so I'm kind of changing her. And my baby son, I just heard this horrible sound coming out of his mouth, this loud choking sound, and I didn't know then that my older daughter, the one who was four, she had gotten a ring at church, and she pretended they were married, put it on his finger, and while he's laying on his baby mat, he dropped it into his mouth, and I just completely panicked. I just started screaming.

I didn't think about how you, you know, pat it on the back. I found my phone. I called 911, and my son Charlie, he was about six at the time. He's so tender-hearted, but he just started wailing, God, take me instead of Levi. What a tender heart. Yes, and he's wailing, and I'm crying, and I actually left all my kids in the house to go out front so I could hear the 911 dispatcher while holding the baby. I didn't leave him, but the other kids, and he coughed up the ring right away. All the color came back to his face, but as I'm crying with this lady, she still, of course, sent over this awesome team of first responders, and when I went back into the house, which I wasn't expecting company, so you know, there's diapers on the floor, and my daughter was half-naked.

She had also taken a black Sharpie and drawn across her lips. My other daughter, the one who committed the crime, she took off her shirt. I don't know if that's just what you do in these scenarios, but so they're, you know, half-naked.

When all the first responders come. Yeah, they walk in the door, and one of them, he didn't even worry about the baby so much. He just said, are all these kids yours?

I was like, yes, yes, they are. You know, they're packing up to leave, and he was so kind to me. He said, you did the good, you did the right thing calling us.

The good mom thing. Yeah, it can be scary, and then my son goes, it's not her first time calling you. She called you when she locked us in the car.

Instead of explaining, you know, the keys were accidentally locked in the car. I just, I just wanted Jesus to come back in that moment, and I just felt all the feelings. Mortified, traumatized, and that was one of those moments where I thought, I really need Jesus.

You know, not every hour, but every millisecond as I parent, I need him. Our thing was the emergency room. Troy just, he did everything to knock his head. You know, he stitches and staples, and I mean, they almost, it was first name basis.

Oh, hey, Troy, how you been since last week? You know, but we didn't call. We just rushed him to the hospital.

We should have called. Yeah, we should have gotten frequent flyer miles for the emergency room, but Steph, speak to the struggle parents have about prayer. I, you know, we're making a bit of an assumption there, but it is true. It's hard to sometimes keep that perspective. How do we pray for our kids? And why aren't moms and dads praying for their kids as often as maybe we should?

And the other side is the guilt of it. I mean, maybe we are praying, but are we praying enough? I mean, is there some secret formula that God has? There is no secret formula. No secret formula.

I think, but that's kind of part of the struggle, right? As we think there is a secret formula. I have to be praying in a certain way. I have to pray for certain things and I have to be able to have, you know, everyone knows that person at church or in their lives, who's the most eloquent prayer and you just, every, they start praying and everyone starts crying. And you know, like you have to be that person to pray for your kids really well. And we just feel so strongly that God just wants your heart. God wants to communicate with you, right? And God wants you to go to him with everything. And I think the expectation that parents have on themselves to be perfect trickles down into a prayer life.

And that's not about perfection. It's about a relationship. Yeah. And Sarah, that fundamental notion that prayer for your kids is really important. Explain that for maybe parents that don't, you know, they're just, they aren't in that groove.

They're not thinking I need to pray for my kid every day. Right. And we get so busy and so distracted. Jean is great at it.

She's better than I am. Seriously. But it's hard to prioritize. It's a mom's heart. And I think understanding why it's so important helps. When we were writing the book, we got to do all this research and we were so excited to find that there are all these things, you know, the practice of prayer during childhood is linked to better social, emotional, mental health as adults.

So even that short investment and just praying with your kids will help them as adults. It does communicate you're important. Yeah. You know, to a child, they're probably part of their reasoning is, do they see me? Yes. Do they see me?

Can you speak life over me? Especially if their parents aren't committed Christians. I mean, so many people contact us. That was their childhood.

They never felt seen by their parents. And that's tough. So this is really important. It's a really connecting activity. And it's the only gift we can give our kids that lasts forever.

My goodness. You know, what's so sad is when you hear the story that it's kind of like the dad that never said, I love you. And of course he loved them, you know, but he never said it didn't express it.

And then some like travesty occurs. And then the father says, honey, I always loved you. But the daughter's saying, I just wish you would have said it to me. Right? I needed to hear it.

Oh yeah. Such a, you know, communicate it. And we dads, we're probably not good at that.

We think it often, but we don't say it for whatever reason, you know? So Steph, you share a story about a question from your young daughter that kind of caught you by surprise. What were the circumstances and what did you learn through this experience? This was a season where my husband was working a lot. It was a very stressful time at work. We knew he was going to be laid off soon and he was in grad school and my kids were, I think, five and under. So it was just, it was very busy season. And my husband was at grad school. He had just gotten back from a business trip.

He was still traveling a lot. And I was at a cold and I was crabby. I was a crabby person and I just was not being nice to my kids. I was just kind of, you know, barking orders like, eat your food, go do this, go, you know, we just fall into that. And my sweet little three-year-old with her little pigtails just looked at me. She's like, mama, are you nice or mean? And I was like, okay. I hear you.

Right now I'm mean. I think a lot of moms have had a similar experience. Dads too.

For sure. But it just gave me positive. I'm like, my interactions are affecting my kids and they're seeing me and this isn't what I want to model to them. So I just went over to her and I gave her a hug and we said a prayer of just like, God, give us the peace we need in this moment. Because this is a hard moment. It's hard. Like that was a very hard season for our family. It was a hard parenting time.

And so not going to sit there and tell him like, okay, it's good. We're all good now. You know, I went and just said, Lord, this is hard and we need you.

So give us the peace that only you can give us. It transformed the rest of the night. The rest of the night was great. I remember one time I had to discipline Trent and he was in a bunk bed and so he was eyeball to eyeball as I was standing there and he was laying in bed and I said, hey, I just, I overreacted. I'm so sorry. And he had this big smile on his face. This is interesting. And I said, why are you smiling like that?

He's probably like five or six. He goes, I didn't know parents had to apologize. I went, oh yes, we do. I'll be saying, I'm sorry, a lot more over the next 15 years, but it's good. You know, we're not perfect people. I think there's more power in that humility than there is in expressing parental strength. Kids need to see brokenness.

Yeah. It shows that my parents who love Jesus and are Christians still make mistakes. Just because you grew up, that doesn't mean you have to be the perfect person.

We can't be. And that just models to them that we need Jesus too. And it makes them feel safe when parents apologize. You know, my mom needs Jesus too.

It wasn't me. She took it out on me because she needs Jesus. I like this concept of the grateful game. So tell me about the grateful game and how do you play it with your kids? That one is our favorite. It's so simple. And maybe parents who are listening or grandparents, you do some sort of rendition of this already, but we just go back and forth sharing something we want to thank God for and why.

And now that my kids are older, they like the ABC version. So thank you for apples. They're delicious. Bananas.

Yeah. Carrots. Oh no, not carrots.

Not, no, no carrots. Or names of God even going back and forth and saying what we're thankful for. And the reason we play it, it just kind of shifts the mood. So if you're having one of those days where you just want it to be tomorrow already, it's just not going well. And then you just stop and pause and thank God.

And you know, it's because that's God's will for our lives that we would rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances. And we started this when our kids were little, but my daughter Brinley, when she was five, she had this day where everything was going wrong. She was just like, the day's ruined, everything's awful and making these sound effects.

And she's a big feeler. And so I put the other kids to bed. She said, don't even tuck me in.

I'm too mad. And I kind of wanted to say, okay, good night. You know, but something told me, okay, go climb up with her and her top bunk. And so I did. And I said, do you want to stay up later than everybody else and play the grateful game? And she said, fine, you know, she kind of turned her back away.

I'm grateful I got to stay up later. But we go back and forth, thanking God for little things, you know, in her room. And she kind of turned to me and took this deep breath. And she said, mom, for some reason, this game really does make my heart feel happy. It's fun to practice it now because I know they will go through big storms in their lives.

We all do. And to practice it for the simple things, you know, later on when you're in a storm, it's easier to praise Him and have that heart shift. Let me ask you, Steph, you're a big believer in memorized prayers. Jean is in that same camp.

She loved that. But speak to that power of memorized prayer. Yeah, I think memorized prayers are just really amazing.

And I think that it's something that we overlook. Because if we've been a believer for a while, we're like, we should be able to come up with our own prayers. Like it doesn't feel good enough if we say a memorized prayer, right. But the Lord's Prayer is how Jesus taught his disciples to pray.

So I feel like if it's good enough for him, like it should be good enough for us too. But I think that if you're a newer believer, and you're just trying to figure this out, and you're listening to this today, because you're like, I don't know how to pray with my kids. I don't even know how to pray. Like, how am I supposed to do it out loud? Starting with a memorized prayer is just a good way to get into the rhythm and get more comfortable with it.

Our Father who art in heaven. Yeah, you just have to say it. And God, again, wants your heart. And so I just think memorized prayers are a really good way for people to get used to the idea of praying out loud. And I also think it's just, the Lord's Prayer is something that people for since the beginning, since Jesus, have been saying it.

Like, so if you think of how connecting that is to believers, so to teach your kids that, is just something really comforting to connect them to the whole church. And there was a time when I had such bad postpartum anxiety with my number two, that I just, I just didn't really have any words to pray. I just was so in a bad place. I had people all around me praying for me, but I just recited the Lord's Prayer over and over and over again. And so I was just like, this is all I have to offer you, God.

Like, it's a humble offering, but it's all I have. And it pulled me through that time, that number two that I had the anxiety with. Now we say the Lord's Prayer together every night.

Oh, wow. Because he was also my stubborn kid who for a while was like, I'm not going to pray. And I was like, okay, well, we're going, I'm going to pray for you. And then he was like, no, it was when he was three years old. So then we started teaching him the Lord's Prayer, and we would do it every night together. We kind of turned it into a game to memorize it. And still to this day, if I'm trying to like rush bedtime, he'll be like, our father.

He's going to slow you down. It's his mission. So we do the Lord's Prayer every night still to this day. That's really such a gift to give your kids too, because they in the middle of the night or when they're afraid, like they always have it, you know. Yeah.

I mean, it's really good. Right until adulthood when they're 80, they'll remember that. I certainly do. Sarah, explain why you urge parents and kids to create a special time and place for prayer. So sometimes we, you know, I have this little closet that sometimes we'll go in and pray, or sometimes at bedtime, I'll say, let's just practice thinking about God and being with God and being quiet next to him with him. And every now and then the kids will say, wow, I just feel like he reminded me he loved me, or I thought about our neighbor. So I prayed for him. And God does that.

He pops people into our minds or reminds us of the Lord's Prayer, scripture or even sometimes prompts us about something we need to do. So I am thankful to be starting this tradition because I didn't practice that till I was an adult. I didn't even know I could do that. Well, again, I think as a parent, you can sense that this really is a dead end. But it's not. I mean, kids remember, I'm astonished at what Trent and Troy remember from being five, six, seven. But like where you guys are at with the young age children, it's sometimes hard to believe that it's going to stick or that it is going to be remembered.

But it will be. And especially if it's wrapped in the right context, not dictatorial, not commandante. But, you know, it's, hey, this is what we do because we're Christian. We want to listen to God. And, you know, if we pose it in that way rather than more militant. Right.

You have to do that. Yeah, I think I think there's a great chance that they're going to continue a lot of those practices and remember them with great fondness too. Steph, you routinely ask your children at dinnertime about the high and the low. Jean did this too. The high and low. I mean, we would give her some grief. And I think back and say, oh, we shouldn't have been teasing mom about that. What's the high?

My high was getting a glass of cold ice water. That's a bad day. But, you know, speak to that. And it's really good again. And what it's doing is opening up the emotional heart. So they're expressing themselves, which is good around the dinner table. So we started doing the what's the best part of your day?

What's the worst part of your day? And how did you see God today? Oh, that's good. And we started when they were young again. And now that they, I mean, we have elementary to tweens now and we still do this at the dinner table every night. And it's been amazing to see kind of like you're saying how things have stuck and how they've grown into their faith. We're really seeing the fruit of that because now we'll still sit around the dinner table and ask them these questions. And when they were little, it was a lot of times their high was the same as how you saw God today.

Because that's a really weird, hard question to kind of wrap your brain around it. I love the addition. We went high and low.

We didn't add that. And where did you see God? Or how did God speak to you today? That is a great addition.

It's been really fun to see them. And we had to do a lot of modeling of this is how I saw God. Or if there was like a sibling fight during the day, and then they reconciled, they'd be like, wow, I just saw Jesus in the way you did that. So I could, you know, show them this is how God is moving. Or wow, look at the sunset.

I see God in the way he did that. So modeling to them how to answer that question. But as I've gotten older, they've really leaned into that. My kids, they're the ones who usually start the questions.

And if we have people over for dinner, they ask them to and sometimes I'm like, sorry. Well, that's another aspect of it. It was interesting that you mentioned like community prayer time.

I think the only place we experienced that was with Jean was really good. She saw they wanted parent volunteers at our school. So when the boys were in elementary school, you know, she'd be on the playground being the playground monitor. And she'd see our boys, you know, kind of mixing with the not so good crowd. And she would say, I think we need to start a Bible study with the kids and the parents that we know. And we did. And it stuck. And they, you know, Trent, particularly that group of young men now they're in their early 20s are all best buddies, and have hung together.

Troy's too, but not quite the same way. But just that intentionality of then creating a Bible study with them praying that way. So that was our experience with group, other family prayer time.

But what what have you seen? And when have you tried to help your kids with group or community? Yeah, I think that just, again, I think modeling that is so important, starting the Bible study or reaching out to parents in your community. But we've just really encouraged our kids like, yeah, if you're gonna ask people how you saw God today, you just do that. And we'll see how people answer how they feel. But just encouraging our kids that this is how we live our life.

And we're going to welcome people into it. And it's been really fun to see our kids do the same. Like, I know there have been stories, my son's kindergarten teacher called me and said, I have to tell you about Calvin was like the first week of school. And I was he was my oldest.

I'm like, Oh, no, what happened? And she said that his best friend was feeling really homesick, because it was the first week of kindergarten. And he walked him over the drinking fountain. And he said, You know, when I'm feeling sad, and I miss my mom, I take deep breaths. And I say, Lord, give me peace.

And so you should try that too. And so he like, walked his friend through this. And I guess he's done on the playground. He's taught his friends.

I mean, he's 12 now. Oh, man, that's awesome. That is so good praise for people.

And it's the first one. And he just, I think it's just something that we've been so intentional of just bringing it everywhere we go and inviting people in that to them. It doesn't feel weird. It's just part of our lifestyle. You know, right at the end here, this flew by. And didn't the time go by fast. But I'm thinking of the moms, you guys are so representative of moms with young kids. I mean, it does feel that old saying, you know, the days are long, but the years are short.

And we've definitely now we felt that our kids are, you know, they're on their way. And they're mostly out of the house, except on dinnertime sometimes. But the point of that is the intensity at that stage of life can be overwhelming. And you don't feel like I mean, all of it just husband traveling a lot, perhaps and the laundry piling up and the kids tugging on you and what's for dinner, I'm hungry.

And you got all this noise going on. But the criticality of it, you know, what you're doing, particularly as a mom, I think dads are important to don't miss hear me. But what moms do to hold everything together and to help those kids see the Lord in their love for them. And the habits that you're giving to your children are so critical. I mean, I just wish every mom could feel like God's arms wrap around them and say you're doing the most important job that can be done right now. I love the way you said that.

And it sometimes doesn't feel worth it or like it's doing anything. But even this summer, I happened to find my mom. She had given me this journal. She, when I was a baby, our family was hit by a drunk driver and my dad and sister passed away and she came to know the Lord after that. But she had this journal of prayers for me that I didn't even know about.

And I was reading it this summer as the, you know, an adult woman reading it. And I just thought, what if she hadn't taken that time to pray those prayers? And it really helped me because sometimes the days just get so busy. Like, did you even look your kids in the eyes? Did you pray for them? Then you get all the guilt. Yeah.

You have to think about clipping their nails and their dentist appointment and all the things, but to really stop. And even if it's very short, but just to spend a few minutes connecting with them through prayer or writing out a prayer for their life or speaking a blessing over them, that is just the one thing we can do as moms that will impact the future generations and them now. And so it's important, but it's hard. It's hard to remember it, but it's important. Yeah.

Steph and Sarah, this is so good. Raising prayerful kids. It's what we want to aim for. We want our kids to follow the Lord with all our heart. You see those glimpses occurring, you know, your 12 year old walking around the school. That's so awesome. And you know, if you didn't see a lot of it, then you see your teenager kind of blossoming spiritually or you're 20 something. And it just encourages you as a parent that all those hours, all the tediousness of saying it over and over again, comes to fruition.

And it's so awesome to see. So thank you. Let me encourage you to get a copy of the book, Raising Prayerful Kids. We have it available for you. If you can make a gift of any amount, if you can do that monthly, it's great. It helps us, but a one-time gift is good as well, but we'll send you a copy of the book and you can be part of the ministry. I think it's a win-win and we'll send it to you when you make that gift as our way saying thank you for being in ministry with us and helping other parents do the job they need to do.

Yeah. We look forward to hearing from you. Our number is 800, the letter A in the word family, 800-232-6459, or donate and get the book by clicking the link in the show notes. And another great resource we have for you is our Age and Stage newsletter. It's all designed to be customized for you to get weekly encouragement from Focus on the Family for your child, the unique age they're at, and some of the challenges and issues that you need to know about. Sign up for Age and Stage when you're at the website.

Sign up for Age and Stage. We've got the link in the show notes. Sarah and Steph, thanks again for being with us. This is really good. Thank you for having us. Thank you so much for having us.

And thank you for joining us as well. And coming up tomorrow, some life-changing insights about how you can have strong, healthier relationships. The best gift I could ever give my relationships is to work on who I am within them. And as I change, the transformation isn't a private one.

It begins to ripple out to every bond I build. Thanks for listening today to Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. Your marriage can be redeemed, even if the fights seem constant, even if there's been an affair, even if you haven't felt close in years. No matter how deep the wounds are, you can take a step toward healing them with a hope restored marriage intensive. Our biblically based counseling will help you find the root of your problems and face challenges together. We'll talk with you, pray with you, and help you find out which program will work best. Call us at 1-866-875-2915.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-02 05:06:34 / 2024-05-02 05:19:16 / 13

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