“Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of
faith, PRAYER, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work,
and wholesome recreational activities.”
-The Family: A Proclamation to the World
There we are again- In the car ready to go when someone remembers, “Hey, we haven’t said family prayer yet!” On one hand I’m thrilled that it’s important enough to them to remember and say something. On the other hand I hate that I forgot… again. We stop though and say our prayer then move on with our days. It doesn’t matter if we rushed through everything in the morning or were so ahead of schedule that we are in the car early, after we say family prayers, things are different. We all have a slightly different attitude, perspective, and feeling in our hearts.
One of the things I love about family prayer is that as we kneel on the ground together, arms folded, heads bowed, in our little circle it’s hard not to feel love. Love from Heavenly Father as we do something that He has asked us to do (see 3 Nephi 18:21), love for each other as we all humble ourselves and squeeze in together, love for our Heavenly Father, love for Jesus Christ, and love for eternal relationships. I love that without prompting the first things kids want to do when the prayer is over is run over and give Mom and Dad a great big hug. We have just spoken to our Heavenly Father; naturally we want to express our love for Him and all those around us.
President Thomas S. Monson said it best when he stated:
There is little wonder that family prayer is included in The Family: A Proclamation to the World as something that defines a successful family and marriage. President Henry B. Eyring shared a glimpse as to why when he said,
“Parents should teach their children to pray. The child learns both from what the parents do and what they say. The child who sees a mother or a father pass through the trials of life with fervent prayer to God and then hears a sincere testimony that God answered in kindness will remember what he or she saw and heard. When trials come, that individual will be prepared.”
There are so many simple but profound things we can learn from each other as we prayer together. We learn that life has hard moments for each one of us; that through prayer we can face hard things; the prayers are answered; and even how answers aren’t always in the form of what we were thinking. We learn to rely on our Heavenly Father and each other for strength. We can’t change everything around us but we can always change the way we go about it. And that’s why we pray together, even if we are in the car on the way to school. Taking just a moment to invite the Spirit into our family allows each one of us to be taught by the Spirit. Phrases that we may not have given a second thought suddenly pierce deeply to our souls.
I am so thankful for this little daily activity that we do. We are in a world that changes rapidly and, unfortunately, not always for the better. As I send my family out into the world that day, I can take comfort that we will be more secure because we have prayed together.
“With the influences of evil that surround our children, can we even imagine sending them out in the morning without kneeling and humbly asking together for the Lord’s protection? Or closing the day without kneeling together and acknowledging our accountability before Him and our thankfulness for His blessings? Brothers and sisters, we need to have family prayer.” (Elder Neil L. Andersen)
Prayer is “a protection against exposure to unknown hazards, evil people, and base temptations.”(President Spencer W. Kimball). It is our duty to send our children, our spouse, and ourselves out into the world with the most protection and preparation possible. Prayer is vital. There is no substitute for family prayer.
How can we make family prayer a more consistent and happy moment in our lives? How do we make it a moment where we can be open to the Spirit and have it as a daily part of our lives?
We started using prayer sticks to stop the fighting. Everyone wanted to say the prayer and instead of having a great spirit about us as we said prayer together we had murmuring, whining, and frustration. Soon it will be the reverse- fighting over who doesn’t have to say the prayer. To resolve this we made Prayer Sticks. Everyone’s name is on a stick in a jar. We even have sticks labeled Guest and Grandma just in case. Whosever name we draw has to say the prayer- no complaints. I love another version I heard where the family kneels around the parents’ bed until someone volunteers to prayer. This could be 5 minutes or an hour. I love that no one is forced to say the pray; they just patiently wait until someone is ready.
Use the alarm on your phone, watch, classic alarm clock, or even set the timer on the microwave- just use one. Alarms make it harder to forget even after you have gotten in the habit. If it is an alarm everyone can hear, it makes it easy to round up the troops. The rule is, no matter what you are doing (minus the potty), drop everything and come to family prayer. Don’t set the alarm for 5 minutes before you go though. Pick a time that allows for the longer prayers and rounding up of grumpy ones.
3. Prayer Board
One of things that can be hard, especially for little ones still learning, is knowing who and what to pray about. While we learn from hearing each other; it can be easier with a prayer board. Take an empty picture frame and turn it into a white board by sticking a plain sheet of paper where the picture should go. Using a draw eraser marker, write down people to prayer for, events going on, and anything else you want on the prayer board. Add to the list all together before saying a prayer or add things as needed. Before family prayer review what’s on the board and why. Peeking at the board or whispered reminders are allowed during the prayer.
4. Pray about It
Pray for good family prayers, to remember, and for everyone to want to be a part of it. Say it in your family prayer and your personal prayers. Gain your own testimony of family prayer and strengthen it daily. Knowing and feeling that family prayer is important will change the way you go about it. President Gordon B. Hinckley promised, “I give you my testimony that if you sincerely apply family prayer, you will not go away unrewarded. The changes may not be readily apparent. They may be extremely subtle. But they will be real, for God ‘is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him’ (Heb. 11:6).”
5. Remember the Power of Prayer
It can be a struggle just getting everyone in the same room to say the prayer but no matter what; family prayer is worth it. President Hinckley went on to say,
“I know of no single practice that will have a more salutary effect upon your lives than the practice of kneeling together as you begin and close each day. Somehow the little storms that seem to afflict every marriage are dissipated when, kneeling before the Lord, you thank him for one another, in the presence of one another, and then together invoke his blessings upon your lives, your home, your loved ones, and your dreams.”
If nothing else, as you pray for your family, they will hear that you love them.
What is your most successful tip for Family Prayer?
Camille is a mom of 5, wife, chocolate lover, and travel enthusiast. She loves sharing LDS lesson helps, encouraging member missionary work, and sharing family traditions on her blog, Chicken Scratch n Sniff. You can follow her Instagram account as she strives to #ShareGoodness or discover other great LDS things on her Pinterest account.
Don’t forget to visit We Talk of Christ to read what article Jocelyn is sharing for the Family Proclamation celebration!