The first time I let my kids hear my quiet time prayers, it was largely an accident. We pray together regularly throughout our days when sick friends come to mind, when the medi-helicopter flies overhead, and when minor knee scrapes threaten to steal the joy from our days. We pray together before meals and before bedtime. But I’d never considered praying out loud during my personal morning devotional time.
Mornings at our house begin with a casual breakfast and quiet activities in the living room. I read my Bible and spend some time in silent prayer. Caleb, our youngest, usually pushes bulldozers and tractors across the floor, while Bekah, our oldest spends her time on an electronic device of some sort.
The morning I prayed out loud by accident was an average morning with coffee and cereal. I simply felt a nudge in my spirit to pray out loud instead of silently. I closed my eyes and sat in silence. Then I prayed as I felt led, thanking Jesus for all he has done, thanking him for the blessings in our lives, confessing sins that came to mind, thanking him for forgiving me, and praying for the people I love.
I opened my eyes to see that both of the children had completely ceased from their respective activities and were staring at me like they’d never heard a person pray before. In that moment, I realized that while my children had experienced prayer together, they had never seen what it looks like to bring our prayers to the Lord in a one-on-one setting.
In that moment I was convicted that if my children are going to learn to cultivate a deep personal prayer life with Christ for themselves, it will be helpful for them to see what that looks like in my life. Here are four reasons why this is so important:
Our kids need to see us model prayers of all kinds
When our family prays together, we tend to model two kinds of prayers: prayers of thanksgiving and prayers of petition. We tell God what we’re thankful for, and we pray for people we care about.
However, if our kids are going to develop well-rounded prayer lives, it’s helpful for us to model a variety of prayers. Some prayers are simply more conducive to devotional prayer time: confession, receiving forgiveness, praising God for his attributes, lament, and evening listening prayer.
Praying out loud will slow you down
I’m prone to rush through the prayer portion of my devotional time. Because prayer isn’t something I can tangibly see, it’s easy to utter a thirty-second prayer about God blessing my day and check it off the list. This is never God’s best for me. He longs for me to draw near to him in prayer, and he promises that he will draw near to me in return (James 4:8). Praying out loud slows me down. It’s not only beneficial for my kids, it’s beneficial for me.
Your kids will see your heart
Coming before God with a humble and contrite heart is important. During times of group prayer, we often focus more on using appropriate words or the way we sound to other people. When we are alone with God in prayer, we are free to pray straight from the heart.
Our kids need to see this kind of prayer modeled. They need to see us cry out to the Lord in difficult times, and they need to see our brokenness over our sin.
Praying out loud during our personal quiet time holds the potential to reveal all of these aspects of the heart.
Your prayers for your children will bless them
When I pray out loud in front of my kids, I am sure to search the Father’s heart for how he would like me to pray for each of them.
I often sense a Spirit-led impression to pray for very specific areas of their lives. When my kids hear these prayers on their behalf, they are blessed.
It has been said that we cannot lead anyone to places we have not already traveled. This is true in our spiritual lives as well as our day-to-day lives. If we want our children to develop strong relationships with Christ, we need to cultivate strong relationships with him ourselves.
Letting our kids see what this relationship looks like sets them up to cultivate the same kind of intimacy.