My husband wanted to pray together when we married, and I thought it was a lovely idea. It quickly became habit—one which is still alive 36 years later. Our children learned to kneel for prayer as toddlers, and it quickly became a special time of the day for us.
Family prayer is not always easy. There were many times when I wondered if our little ones would ever understand the meaning of reverence. Sometimes I didn’t want to pray because I was too angry at one of my children—but pray we did. There were times when I felt numb from the day’s stress and activity, and words would not come. Other times exhaustion made the same words tumble out that had been uttered on countless other occasions. Then there were those other times—the times that made it all worth it. There would be a moment of clarity and closeness. A child would offer a heartfelt prayer that made our hearts skip a beat.
The children grew, and they learned they could get answers to their prayers. They began to pray in a much more personal way. As listening parents, we learned a few things too. We learned that children are much smarter than we often realize. We learned that as adults, we had lost that ability to have an honest conversation with God that comes so easily for children—and we began to pray like our children.
Our oldest daughter left our California home for college in Missouri. She missed family prayer. We noticed that when she would place a long-distance call home, she would call just a few minutes before our family prayer, which happened promptly at 9:00 p.m. We found ourselves including her in family prayer via the telephone. Video calls were still science fiction then, but we could feel her closeness on the telephone.
My family is far from perfect, and as parents, we made our share of mistakes. We can’t undo those mistakes, nor can we excuse them. Children don’t come with manuals, and parents don’t come with all the answers. Maybe it’s supposed to be that way so that we learn to draw closer to God. Our kids will probably end up in therapy because of their crazy mixed up parents—but at least we taught them to pray. Moreover, they are teaching our grandchildren to pray—and that’s the most rewarding parental moment I’ve personally had.
All these many years later, I’m so grateful to a husband who said, “I think we should pray together each day.” I’m also grateful that I didn’t brush him off with a snide remark or laugh at the idea. Those were my young and dumb years. I’m so glad I had one brief moment of clarity and paid attention to my truly inspired new husband.