Sometimes, words fail me. This affliction seems to strike me at the most inopportune times. I often find myself without the words that seem appropriate during difficult times. When someone shares something with me that is deeply personal, and sometimes painful, I often find myself struggling with emotions so big that I don't know how to put them into words.
Words fail me in my relationships with those I care about. It takes patience and practice to learn good communication skills that are necessary to maintain all of our relationships.
Prayer is a place where many people struggle with what exactly to say. Prayer, on the most basic level, is the way we communicate with God. There is no right or wrong way to pray. Essentially, whatever words you use are ok. The words are less important than the practice. Saying something is better than saying nothing at all. (This is a good practice in our personal relationships too.)
God does give us an example of a prayer that He asks us to pray.
“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.'” Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV)
Some people pray this prayer, commonly referred to as the Lord's prayer, often. It is part of their church services and/or part of their regular, even daily, routine. I find it fascinating that God provides us with words for the times when words may fail us.
The danger in reciting a prayer over and over again is that it has the potential to lose meaning for us. We say the prayer without actually “praying” the prayer and thinking about what it is we are really saying.
The Lord's prayer is a great prayer to hardwire into your children's brains, but it is equally important to talk about what it means to pray this prayer. In order to really understand the Lord's prayer I will be writing a series of posts that will break down each petition and offer ideas for teaching this prayer to your family.
It is important to note that the first verse says, “This, then is how you should pray.” In other words, we don't always have to pray the Lord's prayer, but it gives us a great example of prayer that we should pay attention to.
The first petition “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” starts the prayer off by addressing God and offering God praise. We are reminded in this prayer that God is our perfect father. Children who haven't had strong father figures sometimes may struggle with this reference.
- When teaching this petition, remind children that God is a “perfect parent.” Have them brainstorm the qualities that a perfect parent has and then talk about how those qualities apply to God as our father.
- Note that Jesus tells us we should pray “our” father rather than “my father.” This implies that it is important for us to recognize all of God's children and to keep them in our prayers.
The prayer continues with “hallowed be your name.” Hallowed is not a word that we use often, so this might be confusing to children. Hallowed means that God's name should be acknowledged as special and holy. This is a way we show our honor, praise, and respect for God.
- Have children brainstorm ways they use names to show respect. Think about titles we use that show respect.
- Talk to your children about their own names and how they received them.
- Spend time brainstorming ways we keep God's name holy.
Stay tuned for the next post where we will talk more about the next petition.
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