Last Sunday guest preacher Phil Hainaut shared some pretty strong opinions about the fate of our youth and the role of parents, grandparents and other significant adults in their spiritual development.
You may have heard these ideas for the first time and it was a “ah ha” moment for you.
You may have thought, “This is hogwash. It is none of anyone’s business what my kid believes, not even mine”.
Or you may have thought, “Sure, I hear what you are saying and I agree. But you do not know my kid. It isn’t worth the battle to drag him/her to church.” Or is it?
What I heard both frightened me and challenged me. It frightened me because it was a reminder that my children and other young people are watching what I do and how I do it. They are evaluating in their own minds whether what I “say” I believe matches up with what I “do”. That is scary.
But the other thing I heard is that it is never too late.
I heard that if I am to play a part in the spiritual development of the children in my midst, then the spiritual development needs to start with me.
I had a poster growing up of a kitten hanging from a rope with it’s two front paws with the caption, “Please be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet”. And it’s true. God isn’t finished with us yet, so it’s not too late to create new traditions, new memories, and new ways to speak into the lives of young people in our midst. But it starts with us.
So let’s go back to basics. Not just for our children and our children’s children but for us. Today. This week we are going to begin a three week series on Prayer because there is nothing as basic or as important as prayer.
We need to understand what prayer is, why we pray, to whom we pray, and how we pray. I believe that prayer can change our lives, our congregation, and the world.
You think I am exaggerating? Take a look at the Bible. It is full of examples where people spoke to God, God listened, and when people listened for God, God spoke to them. And things happened!
So where do we begin with prayer? How about a family mealtime prayer? Maybe you already do this and you’ve said the same prayer a thousand times before. Perhaps that’s why it sounds so rushed, so uninspired, so forced. Is this familiar?
Well, here are some easy ideas to make it more meaningful.
- Why not sing Grace?— At Messy church we are always learning new prayers to sing before we eat dinner, like Johnny Appleseed or the Alphabet Grace. Check out this site http://gsong.ms11.net/Graces/grtexts.html.
- Say a prayer chain. Go around the table and let each person tell God something he or she is thankful for that day.
- Read a passage from Scripture. Don’t worry about having to add anything to it. Let the verse be the prayer.
- Be in silence for 15 seconds, letting each family member pray to himself or herself. You may be amazed at how powerfully prayerful a pause can be! This one can be hard sometimes at my house but it is wonderful to “Be still” and reflect on God.
- Move the prayer from before the meal to after the meal. Simply changing when you say the prayer can help people focus more on the act of praying.
Just try it. If it is your family tradition to pray before eating, by mixing up the ways you pray at the table, you can keep it fresh and meaningful.
If you’ve never prayed before mealtime, why not try it? Introduce your family to the joy of meeting God in a mealtime prayer!
The change begins with you.