If you read my post on creating a Heritage for your children, I promised a practical follow up. This post is mostly ideas that have worked for my family. Hopefully some of them will speak to you or inspire you to start something entirely new. The bottom line is prayer. Prayer literally changes everything. If you don’t believe this, you really are not reading your Bible because it is filled with amazing documentation. It is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children because we can’t mess it up. Prayer goes straight to the throne room of God where we are assured that the Holy Spirit speaks for us. In fact, “we do not know what to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us” (Romans 8:26). God is in the business of taking our imperfect and creating perfection, even our prayers.
Before you start reading my ideas, let me say this to your heart. Anything you start will be overwhelming. It will require practice. It will not be perfect, not your first time around or your last, because, well, we aren’t perfect. So get that out of the way before you start. The key isn’t perfection; the key is persistence.
Here are some of the things I do to create a Heritage of Faith in our home. Number one, we trade rushed and repetitive night-time prayers for purposeful ones. There is a danger in anything that we repeatedly do for it to become a ritual without reaching our hearts. So, this is one way we try to combat that. We have a jar with Popsicle stick prayer requests, we all choose about 3 or 4 and we pray for those things. We can pray for anything additional we want, but this keeps us mindful of requests and answers. When a prayer is answered, we mark it on the Popsicle stick and it stays in rotation so we stay mindful of the ways God has answered our prayers. This ritual also keeps us from mindless repetition of bedtime prayers because it mixes up who prays for what. It kind of breathes life and attention into something that can become common place.
If you don’t know what to pray, start with a fruit of the spirit to pray over each. We studied the fruits of the spirit together last summer, and we each chose at least one that we wanted to pray for ourselves (including parents). We wrote them on one of our prayer Popsicle sticks. It is so sweet to hear my children intercede for each other’s weakness, and just as sweet when they intercede for mine.
My second idea for you is to keep a prayer journal for just your children. I keep one for each child. I will not include a picture because you would not be impressed by how full they are. However, the point is that they hold individual things God has spoken to my heart for each child. It is something I will send with them when they start their own families (see that still gives me time to fill them). The point is that even if they aren’t full, you have a physical reminder of things God is doing in them. You may never give it to them, you may keep just one journal for all your kids, you may write it on index cards. However you do it, it will have an impact. A key is keeping your journal handy. I put mine beside my bed. I try, yes try, it doesn’t happen every night at all, but I try to purposefully pray for each child. It can be a verse that spoke to me that week or a verse or promise that I want to speak over their life. It might even be something I see them struggling with and want to get ahead of. An important part of this routine is that I pray over one child. I rotate their journals so they each get prayer, but I don’t overload myself by writing in each journal every night. Give yourself some grace here. There are weeks that nobody gets a prayer in their journal here at my house, but I will not quit.
I have also taken these same journals in the school pick up line. That way my time in line is spent and multiplied and I am pouring myself out for them for that 20 minutes instead of pouring myself over Instagram.
One last idea for today, a jar of blessings. This one is new, I just started it this year. It’s an easy way for us to keep thankfulness in our hearts and teach it to our children. I have a jar and a basket with blank slips of paper and a pen. Each month we fill the jar with things we are thankful for and ways we have seen God answer our prayers. Then, at the end of the month, during dinner, we dump them out and take turns reading each other’s. This can totally be done between bites and it inspires great dinner conversation. Tip: put chocolates out by the jar and encourage them to take a chocolate and write while they eat it! This is working too well for me; I may have gained 5 lbs since I started this. So pursue this one at your own risk.