I’ll never forget the year I learned the family recipe for my grandmother’s pecan pie. Each person in the family had a special dish they’d bring to family meals. My mom made the dressing, my aunt made a cream cheese “pinecone” appetizer, my great-aunt brought green beans she’d canned earlier in the year, and my grandmother always made a pecan pie. The pecan pie was my favorite and oh was it yummy!
She was the only one who ever made it, so I assumed it was a special family recipe. After she died, my mother picked up the torch and made the pecan pies. They were just as good, so my grandmother must have passed on the recipe to her. I wanted to be in on the secret, too, so one day I asked my mom if she would tell me the secret family recipe for pecan pie. What she did next shocked me. She pulled a bottle of Karo syrup out of the pantry and told me to read the label. There it was, a recipe for pecan pie. Our “secret” family recipe wasn’t so secret after all. What seemed like a secret recipe was just years of experience such that the recipe came as second nature and she didn’t need to check the bottle for directions.
What other “secret recipes” are we not sharing with those closest to us? How do we pass down the special traditions and important lessons to the next generation? Sure, it takes time and it’s often easier to just do it ourselves. Yes, it means we have to open up and share something from our heart, our stories of why this is important and special. It may also require us to make changes in routines to incorporate the lesson and modeling into our every day. But, isn’t the result worth it?
Maybe we’re not all passing down the recipe for pecan pie, but what else is important for you to pass along to others? What about faith? Sharing the stories of Jesus, the importance of faith in your life, how you put your faith into action, how to pray?
We’ve been talking about the gift of prayer for the past several weeks. Prayer is a special gift to us from God, but a gift we have to receive and use in order for it work in our lives. It’s a gift that has real and practical benefits for us personally. Prayer is a gift we can give by praying for and praying with others. Prayer is also a gift we share by teaching and modeling it for our children and our friends.
3 Ways to Model and Teach Prayer To Others
1) Let them see and hear you pray
Modeling is one of the best ways to pass along the gift of prayer. Show your children how you pray. Show them that prayer is a part of your day and is important in your life.
I often pray early in the morning before my children wake up, when the house is still quiet. One morning, my daughter came down early and saw me praying and looked at my prayer journal still open on my desk. At first, I was annoyed to be disturbed and felt that I needed to put away my notebook, but then I realized she was interested and wanted to know more. It opened a conversation about prayer – why I pray, when I pray, and how I pray.
2) Teach them how to pray
How did you learn to pray? Did a parent guide you through saying bedtime prayers? Did you memorize the Lord’s Prayer in Sunday School? Did you read some books or blogs that gave you additional insight into prayer? Prayer can be intimidating and it’s important we take time to teach what we know. Explain how to enter into conversation with God.
As my daughter looked over my prayer journal, she began to ask about the different pages – some were prayer doodles for people I was praying over, some were prayers written from scripture, another was a picture I drew as I prayed. She asked what these were, so I began to explain some of the ways I pray. Then, she asked if she could have a notebook like mine. I found one and she immediately began to journal and pray in it.
3) Let them lead in prayer
Leading a group in prayer isn’t about seniority or experience. Encourage your children to lead your family in prayer. Take turns who says the blessing over dinner. When you see someone in need, ask who wants to lead the family in prayer.
I love that my daughter is now the one pushing us to be more consistent with saying the blessing over dinner. My kids will take turns who says the prayer when we’re driving and see an ambulance or fire truck racing by with their lights and sirens on. These are important opportunities to practice prayer in a safe environment, not only to learn how to pray, but to feel more confident praying with others.
With whom will you share your ’secret family recipe’ for prayer? Don’t keep it to yourself, pass along the gift of prayer.
Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it. (Proverbs 22:6)