Time to Pray

by Dan Kuckuck, Pastor at St. Stephen Lutheran, Urbandale, IA & LEAD Consultant

It occurred to my wife and me a few months ago that we wanted to be more intentional about including some faith practices in our home life. Our daughter Olivia is about two and a half, and at the age when she’s noticing and establishing routine. She knows exactly when it’s time to talk about the weather (“Daddy, it’s rainy out!”) and time to feed our dog, Luna. But in her schedule, there is never a time to pray.

So, Minda and I decided that we’d start praying at dinnertime, just like we had when we were kids.

“Olivia, it’s time to pray before dinner!” Blank stare.

“Let’s hold hands to pray, honey.”

“No!” Minda and I both reach over to grab Olivia’s hands. She rips them away. Minda and I decide that she doesn’t have to hold our hands.

“Daddy and I are going to pray, Olivia, and you can pray along with us, okay?” Blank stare.

“God is great, God is good…”

“NO!” Olivia covers both her ears as we pray, sporting a pained, labored expression as we finish the prayer.

“Amen.”

Well, I think we nailed it. Faith formed! Ha!

How do you try to establish prayer practices at home, or in your own life?

It’s not easy in the midst of all our daily demands to make time for prayer – especially if the time hasn’t been set aside beforehand. If I’m particularly busy, running from one thing to another, I feel just like Olivia—resistant to prayer. Prayer seems like another task, another activity, another obligation. And of course, sometimes I just forget.

Prayer is important to us, though, and we want to make it happen. The approach we’re taking with Olivia is the same approach I’m taking for myself, and one that you might take as well:

We’re setting a time to pray each day (dinnertime), we’re making our prayer simple, and we’re keeping it short.

We’re also reminding ourselves that this is Olivia’s first step in her life of prayer. We just want to establish the habit. We trust that God will continue to nurture the relationship as her life of prayer unfolds from here. At the beginning, though, we just hope she won’t say no. Sometimes, prayer is simply saying “Yes.”

How are you working to nurture your prayer life? I’m delighted to say that Olivia doesn’t cover her ears anymore, but she still doesn’t hold our hands. She just sits and watches. I think that’s a good start.

3 replies
  1. Robin Pantermuehl
    Robin Pantermuehl says:

    I kept my first granddaughter while my daughter-in-law finished her degree in teaching. As soon as Em was able to sit in a highchair at the table, long before she could speak, I would hold her hands together and pray, “Thank-you Jesus for our food. Amen.” In little more than a week, each time we sat at the table with food, she would throw her hands together and later bow her head so I could say the prayer. Her parents noticed this and used the same wording at each of their meals until she was able to say it herself. Mealtime prayers and bedtime prayers and other prayer times became a part of their family life. Now all three granchildren consider prayer a normal part of life. They have developed their own style and words for prayer that are an inspiration and joy to me. I believe the key is to start when they are young, have consistent family support for prayer time and an active church life that stresses prayer.

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  2. Christine
    Christine says:

    We pray at bedtime. My son is 2.5. I started by thanking God for things he/we did that day. Then I started asking him what he’s thankful for. Now he adds people and things he’s thankful for without me asking. I do get those days where he says nothing or covers his ears though, but that’s toddlers!

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  3. Rafaela Radcke
    Rafaela Radcke says:

    This is a great point Pastor Kuckuck,

    As we believe prayer is essential in our lives, prayer brings and keep us close to God. Prayer is a reminder of an action of thanksgiving.

    At home whether we are having a good day or a challengeable day prayer is important. I make the motion of thanking the people who made the food possible. Often my husband cooks therefore I thank the Lord for his cooking. My son studies Eastern religions and I often include thankfulness for the environment, and creation. That brings a happy prayer to the table, and then I realize how great it’s to share this wonderful love of Christ with others whom are still deciding to follow Christ. Amazing enough the food has a better taste😉

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