We teach acronyms like CHAT or ACTS that remind us that prayer is about giving God praise, confessing sin, and giving thanks yet, in the public arena it feels like our requests often take center stage. Sometimes it's as if adoration and thanksgiving are like introductions and conclusions but what we're really coming to God for is to ask for some things.
What is prayer really about?
Why did Jesus pray... and how?
In examining a couple of passages involving Jesus and prayer, a theme emerges - the Father's will. He mentions it when teaching the disciples how to pray, "thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven..." and when Jesus is praying in desperation and sorrow at Gethsemane, "not my will but yours be done."
Jesus used prayer as a time of surrender.
It was more important to listen than to speak.
I think a good argument can be made that this is what prayer is all about. It is about us getting our will lined up with God's. It is not getting God to bend to our will. It is letting Him change our hearts so that we can see what His will is.
A couple more Scriptures for consideration:
1 John 5:14, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us"
Romans 12:2, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will."
Now, about teaching our children... children are naturally selfish (it is hard to grow out of and most parents struggle mightily as well). Humans are often thinking of ourselves and what will be pleasing to us and the path of least resistance, etc. etc. A great thing to be teaching your children, as you pray together, is that what is most important to us is that God's will, not our own, be done.
What are some ways you can continue teaching your children about God and prayer this week?
Here are a couple of ideas:
Pray with your children whenever you can. Stories can be told, truths can be taught, the best way to share prayer is by modeling it.
Celebrate answered prayers.
My kids love to look at pictures. Get some pictures out from when you were a child. Talk about how you have changed physically - getting bigger, taller, etc. What can you share about times in your life when you had tough choices to make and it wasn't easy to follow God's plan? What about times when you didn't understand what was happening or why but later realized it was the Lord's will?
Pray through the Lord's prayer together. See if you can memorize it.
Do you have any Transformers? Or other children's toys that can transform from one thing to another? If so, use that and/or a Jello mold to bring Romans 12:2 to life. The way the world thinks is getting scarier and scarier. How can we let God renew our minds regularly? Through prayer? Good answer!