I wasn’t brought up in a Christian home. On occasion my mother would read a few passages from the Bible on Christmas morning before we opened gifts.
While her intention to carry on a tradition may have been honorable, it fell on deaf ears. I had no idea who God was or why on this one day a year she pretended like He mattered.
But now that I have a family of my own, now that I have found God for myself, I vowed that my children would know Him and know why He matters.
I vowed that my children would know the sovereign God of the universe, the God who reached down in the pit and saved my life.
Prayers That Honor God
I vowed that our house would serve the Lord. His name would not be mentioned but once a year, but rather His name would be spoken multiple times a day and all that we did would be to honor Him.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your house and on your gates.” -Deutoronomy 6:5-9 (NIV)
But without a model of how to raise children who love God, I’ve had to figure things out on my own. One day at the dinner table I noticed our prayers were becoming repetitive and void of emotion.
Each day we prayed for the same things. Dear God, Thank you for this day. Thank you for the roof over our heads and the food in our refrigerator. Please bless this food and nourish it to our bodies. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
While there was nothing wrong with our prayers, I wanted our family to dig deeper. I wanted our prayers to be spontaneous and from the heart.
I wanted our prayers to be less about us and more about others. I wanted us to stretch ourselves. I wanted to cultivate humble, servant hearts within us all.
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.”–1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NIV)
Seeking Depth In Prayer
And that’s when the idea came to me.
A box of prayers.
Years ago, I had purchased a simple gray box with the word “prayers” written faintly on the top. I blew the dust off the unused box and removed it from the shelf. I sat down and the ideas poured out of me.
I began cutting strips of paper and writing names—first responders, the church, the marginalized, a friend, NICU babies, our community, our leaders. Then I began writing things—for wisdom, for healing, for provision, for salvation. And finally, I concluded with actions—to hear Your voice, to be Your hands and feet, to love like You.
I neatly folded all the pieces of paper to fit inside the box and placed it on a wooden tray in the center of our dining room table. I smiled to myself, how fitting—to see God at the center.
Prayer Makes An Impact
With one small gesture our prayer lives changed.
For a year now, our family has been drawing prayer slips before each meal. When I stop to pause, I find myself marveling at God’s goodness. Oh, how He blesses our obedience.
The impact this simple, daily practice has had on our family is priceless. I’ve watched our prayer lives transform. I’ve watched our prayers go from empty repetition to spontaneous glimpses of the depths of our hearts.
I’ve watched hearts move from self-centered postures to selfless positions. And as a family, I have seen us all draw closer to God. As a family we’ve seen God move in our lives and the lives of others as He has answered our prayers in expected and unexpected ways.
To download a free copy of Prayer Slips for your own Box of Prayers, click here.
If you need more ideas of what to pray for, here is a list of 100 things to pray for!