“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day 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 evil.” Matthew 6:9-13
8:30 p.m. on Sundays is a special time in Thorntonville. It’s when our family meets around the kitchen table, discusses the upcoming week’s events and prays. Our family prays over meals, as we are running out the door in the morning, and when we have that sudden feeling of something being too big for us and we have to give it to God right away, but prayers on Sunday at 8:30 p.m. are different.
As my kids transitioned into Middle and Jr. High School, my husband and I felt a strong conviction put on our hearts to teach our kids how to go deeper with Christ. We added morning devotionals to our breakfast routine and encouraged them to find ways to serve at church and/or in the community; areas where their hearts held passion. We desired, though, also to train them to take the lead in prayer and value their own relationships with God.
Our weeks were busy and rushed with activities (Sunday evenings, too). Even so, we set Sunday evenings at 8:30 as our family prayer time.
I’ll be honest, teenagers can be raw and sometimes rough around the edges. In fact, even more honest, my teens can rub me the wrong way when they are having their rough around the edges moments. When we started our prayer time, the sighs of “do we really have to do this” added to playing with table décor during prayer left me anything but prayerful. But we persisted. Sometimes we still have moments that are rough, but we also have moments that are beautifully raw; like when one of my kids prays for a peer handing a difficult situation. Prayers for counseling instead of punishment, grace instead of judgement, love instead of hatefulness. I get goosebumps from these prayers. I also love it when they pray for their mentors, teachers and adults of influence in their lives. From teachers battling cancer to mentors trying to adopt babies come prayers of God’s healing and blessing. There are prayers of victory and prayers of sorrow.
A few years ago, I bravely stepped forward and shared with my teens my struggle with depression and the counseling I was going through. I asked them to pray for me. Week after week they prayed, giving thanksgiving for the times of triumph. They also prayed over my husband when his work was trying. My husband and I have been able to pray over our kids, too. Through transition changes at school, decisions about college, patience through biopsies, losses in friendships, tests and the list goes on. We’ve also given thanksgiving for answered prayers like when my son’s partial hearing ears began to show signs of healing without surgery and when a mentor’s encouragement grew roots in my daughter’s life.
Our prayer time is really quite simple. We always begin by looking at the calendar for what the week ahead holds. Everyone gets the opportunity to share what prayer request are on their hearts. We write down those requests in a journal and then we choose a leader to guide us through the ACTS form of prayer. We learned this method when teaching children’s Sunday school. There are many other acronyms for prayer. Simply taking turns lifting requests works, too. ACTS stands for A-Adoration (words of Praise to God), C-Confession (we do silent confessions), T- Thanksgiving (Time of gratitude for God’s provision and answered prayers), S-Supplication (lifting up the concerns on our heart and intercessory prayers for others).
Sometimes our time together is limited. On those times, one person offers up a prayer and/or we all say the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) together.
This time together takes 15 to 30 minutes. It puts our hearts in God’s hands at the beginning of each week. While trials come, this time allows us the opportunity to open up to God and as a bonus, support each other not just as Thorntonville members, but also as members in Christ.
My hope is that my children see the value in prayer, even if at times they don’t on Sunday evenings. That they will feel the presence of God working in them as they establish communication with him and trust him with their deepest desires, wishes, hurts and failures. That this will be a stepping stone in prayer and praying with confidence as they learn to build on that communication into an even more engaging relationship with Jesus that takes place moment by moment, prayer by prayer, heartbeat by heartbeat.
8:30 p.m. on Sunday is refreshing to Thorntonville. It’s not perfect, but it is sacred.