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.