It’s funny how when you’re a kid, however you are raised is what you believe to be normal.
When I was younger, I thought that everybody did morning devotions as a family at breakfast before school. I thought it was really weird when I found out that they didn’t.
I thought that all married couples prayed together. I thought it was really sad when I found out that they didn’t.
The older I get, the more thankful I am for all of the different things that my parents raised me to think were “normal”. I’m thankful for habits that were instilled in me so early that I didn’t even realize they were habits – they are just part of life, part of me.
So much of what I learned about prayer at home was learned without realizing it. It was “caught” instead of “taught”.
Here’s the three things I learned from my parents about prayer:
1) Pray together as a family.
When I was in school, we ate breakfast at 7:30. Every single morning. And then my dad would read to us out of the “Daily Bread” devotional book, then he’d read from the Bible, and finally ended with prayer. That was just the way that it was. We were never late for school because of it, we always had time for it, because that was just the way things were done. I didn’t always understand what he was reading, but I caught on to bits and pieces, and understood more as I got older. He prayed simply and sincerely, and I never had to be taught how to pray, because I heard my dad doing it, every single day. You just talked to God. Nothing fancy or complicate. A normal part of the day.
2) Pray by yourself.
I have many memories of going to look for my mom, and finally finding her in my parents’ bedroom. She would be sitting in a rocker in the corner by the windows, and in my memories, the sun was always shining! There was something so peaceful and comforting about finding her there in the sunshine, reading her Bible and praying.
I’m sure that my parents taught me that doing daily devotions was important, but I don’t remember it. What I do remember is seeing my mom doing it regularly.
3) Pray together as a couple.
Interestingly enough, this is the one that has impacted me the most. I read once that the way to have happy children is to have a happy, secure marriage. Kids need to see their parents together, enjoying each other, talking, and even better, praying.
I knew that every single night, if I needed something of my parents after I had gone to bed, I was guaranteed to find them in their room, reading the Bible and praying together. When I think of what “safe” looks like in the home, to me, it looks like my mom and dad praying together by that little bedside lamp. It’s like a warm glow, shining on me still.
During my first year of college, I got my first boyfriend, and then my first break-up. It was the hardest thing I had experienced in my life up to that point. I came home for Christmas holidays right after it happened, and that first night at home, I crawled right into bed with my parents, and they prayed for me. I was safe again.
I knew that whatever happened in the big world outside, there would always be that safe circle of light. Even now, I cannot describe what it feels like to know that every single night, my parents are praying for me still.
By choosing to do those three things so consistently during my growing up years, they gave me one of the greatest gifts they could. They demonstrated for me what it looks like to live a life of prayer, to be in relationship with God in a simple, lifelasting kind of way. Because they engrained those things into my life, they are now a part of who I am.
If I want the same for our girls, I start now. Anika does not “get” prayer. She doesn’t really understand what a personal relationship with Jesus looks like. But we still read her Bible and pray every night, because that’s just the way we do things. She can choose to reject it later on in life, but I hope and pray that it will rather become so ingrained in her life, too, that as she grows in understanding, it will become her choice. Not because she has to, but because she’s already seen her whole life that there is peace, comfort, and safety in those times of prayer.
I wish there was a guarantee that she and Kaylia would choose Jesus. But then I guess it wouldn’t be a “choice”. So the best thing I can do is pray, with them, with Ben, by myself, and trust that Jesus will take care of them, just like He’s taken care of me.
What’s the best thing your parents taught you?