-Thoughts on Prayer-
Prayer is vitally important.
Prayer is also a spiritual discipline that should be spoken of frequently and taught to our children. It is a constant conversation that takes place with Creator and we the creation.
I remember when I was a young boy. We had a small dining table located in the kitchen. We didn’t have much. My parents were missionaries and so we lived off of what was provided to us. We were happy though, and the simple pleasures of life often occupied our small household. At that breakfast table in the kitchen we had our humble meals. Many times we ate fish at least five times a week. But one thing was constant in that small room in which we gathered for our meals. On that breakfast table sat a clear plastic stand with cards in it. The cards were nestled in their place, they were small, sometimes multi-colored. These cards looked like playing cards of one kind or another, but in fact they were scripture readings and a devotional thought for the day. Most days my father or mother would select one of these multicolored cards, sometimes my sister and I would help pull them from their place. Usually my father would read the card selected for the day. My sister and I would listen,though admittedly as children tend to be, I was often fidgety and sometimes would not hear what was being said. But those devotional cards directed our day. After the reading was finished we would pray. Right there in that little kitchen, my sister and I first encountered this discipline of prayer, which was being modeled for us by our parents.
When I was a College Student.
Later in my life, I recall visiting relatives.
We stayed in their home and talked into the late hours of the night.
There was laughter and tears only found and formed in the deep bonds of family.
In the morning, when we were ready to set off on our long journey home, I remember sitting at their breakfast table. And much like our breakfast table long ago, there before us were those little multicolored cards resting in that clear plastic stand . A card was selected from the stand on that morning, and as a part of a now much larger family, we read and prayed together. It felt strangely familiar and yet almost alien to me then. I had been attending a Christian college, but if truth be told, I was further away from God than I have ever been in my life. But sitting at that breakfast table, I was once again transformed into a child. I was once more caught up in a glimpse of simpler days. Sitting at that table early in the morning something fantastic happened to me. I was reminded, I was renewed, I was plugged back in – because of family, because of the bonds of prayer, fellowship and relationship.
I recalled all of those times when I sat at that little breakfast table as a child, how I would fidget, how I would often dread having to sit and listen. How, sometimes I loathed those little cards…and here I was, at another kitchen table, and hearing the same kind of card being read once more. How I wished I could stop time and sit here for a little while longer. How I wished I could go back to that little kitchen as a child and soak it all up again. Perhaps this time I would listen. Perhaps this time I would understand its importance. Perhaps I would finally get it. There, within my heart was this deep longing to reach out and touch the Master’s hand. The intent of creation itself – to fellowship with God. And how many times have we ignored, been too busy or too distracted to even stop and experience such an encounter?
This brief pause in the day wasn’t a ritual. This breakfast table reading wasn’t devoid of meaning. This little moment in a big day meant something far beyond my grasp at the time. But as I have grown older, and have children of my own, I now look back and can finally see how it shaped me. I see how it molded me into who I am today.
“Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
Parents, don’t underestimate this time that you have with your children!
Take the time, even if you don’t always feel up to it.
I must confess that I haven’t always done this, but I now see how vital it truly is, and a part of me wishes I could go back for a moment and sit at that breakfast table once more and to encounter our times a family prayer again.
Something to ponder today.