We’ve talked before about teaching children to pray using a prayer box. This is a similar endeavor, but this time our tool is The Lord’s Prayer rather than a plastic box and stack of index cards. I mentioned this in a recent Scholé Sisters podcast, and to be honest, I can’t take credit for it. Like all of my best thoughts, this one isn’t actually mine. I think I caught it in seminary, but it didn’t really take root until we had a pastor who modeled this approach in the pulpit.
The basic idea is to use The Lord’s Prayer as a framework for praying. Jesus said we should pray like this. There are two ways to interpret this. The first is, of course, to memorize it and recite it verbatim (we do that — in fact, I really think this is a necessary first step if you want to do what I’m talking about here). The second is to pray in a way that is like it — conforming our prayers to the form and structure we find in it. That’s all I mean when I call it a framework.
Before I break it down, I just want to clarify that I really think this works for older children. My youngest is eight, but if he were my oldest I wouldn’t have done this yet, if that makes sense.
Also, it isn’t like we do this, in all its parts, on a single day. I think that’d be overwhelming for all but perhaps high schoolers. Instead, we might choose a couple things to touch on — or we might decide in advance where our prayer cards fit into this bigger scheme.
So let’s break it down!
Our Father who art in heaven…
We open by remembering our relationship to God. We are His people, His children. This is a great honor we can thank Him for, it’s also a loving relationship, and this is a good place to express that familial type of love.
We also remember that He is in heaven — He is above us, and He is ruling all things.
Hallowed be thy name.
Our focus here is holiness. We pray that His name be kept holy and that the behavior of His Church reflects this — that we each keep ourselves holy because we belong to His name.
Thy kingdom come.
We pray for Him to triumph over all things (including His eventual victory over death, the last enemy), we ask for His return, we pray for the lost (we desire the kingdom to come in their hearts), and we pray for our missionaries who are working to translate Scripture into tongues that have never yet heard the Gospel.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
We pray for His will to be done, not ours — sometimes we put things that seem confusing here, where perhaps it is hard for us to discern His will, so we pray that it will happen and we don’t try to stop it in ignorance. We pray that our wills align with His.
Give us this day our daily bread…
We cast our small cares and needs upon Him. Here we pray about the stuff of life — finances and broken cars and sicknesses and such. We trust in His care on this particular day.
This is where I start with my children. Children can be taught very young to bring their requests to God, so when I try to fit this into the larger framework of The Lord’s Prayer, this is an easy starting place. We can recite everything up to this point, say, “Give us this day our daily bread,” and then pause briefly for each person to pray about their small troubles, and then continue on with reciting the rest of the prayer.
And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…
Here is a good place for confession of sin, requests for forgiveness, and requests for help in forgiving others. We remember that Christ gave us the ministry of reconciliation and peacemaking and pray accordingly.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…
Here go prayers for moral/spiritual protection for ourselves and others, prayers for deliverance out of serious trials and protection during them.
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever.
Here go praise and reveling in Him, His kingdom, the beauty of His will, etc., with a special remembrance that He is sovereign.
It’s a simple thing, really.
The structure this has lent to our morning prayer time has been quite helpful.
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