During a prayer meeting at our church last week, I was surprised to hear my eight-year-old take a turn to pray for world missions. When I was his age, I am not sure that I even knew what a missionary was. I know that I would not have felt confident to pray among a group of adults for the Lord to "open the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf" as he did that night. The sweetness and honesty of his prayer was humbling for me and nearly moved me to tears. No doubt the Lord is at work in his young life, and I believe the source of this particular growth has been the practice of family worship.
One year ago, Michael and I committed to set aside a time each day for this, admitting that we needed to have a daily practice of seeking the Lord as a family. We wanted to do more than pray together at meals and read a short, scratch-the-surface devotion. We chose to meet in the evenings after dinner, as the mornings are too rushed and we thought this would be a good way to refresh ourselves from a tiring day.
We begin with a short prayer, asking the Lord to help us to understand his Word, to focus and to be well-behaved. We follow by working for about 10 minutes on scripture memory. We use Fighter Verses, a Desiring God publication. This mini-three-ring binder contains several hundred notecards with verses selected with the purpose of arming us with the Sword of the Spirit printed on each side. When my older son can state a verse by memory, I place a small sticker in the upper-left corner of the card. The upper-right is designated for my younger son, and the two bottom corners are reserved for Michael and for me. Whenever someone completes ten verses, the family is rewarded with a miniature soldier, also available from Desiring God Ministries.
Next, we sing two Psalms. We take turns picking which ones will be sung. If we need help with a tune, we go to http://www.lifefebc.com/resources/midipsalter.htm. Once or twice a week, we also sing a hymn (the same one throughout the month). Then, Michael teaches a lesson from the Gospels using the Veritas Bible curriculum. He follows their five-day format.
Finally, we take turns picking a country, and I read about the country of the night from Operation World by Johnstone and Mandryk. We color the country on an outline map and restate the prayer needs we read about, helping the boys state ways that they can pray. We then take turns praying for those needs and for anything else on our personal prayer request list.
We are really glad we made this commitment. There are nights that it is hard to be faithful, and there are nights that we have to shorten the lessons or reschedule. However, the Lord is maturing us, parents and children alike. I pray the Lord will continue to increase the Hays family's faithfulness and draw us closer to each other and to himself through the practice of family worship.