by Shelby Rodgers
“Who’s turn is it for prayer?”
It is a question which always solicited eager responses from my daughters when they were younger.
“Me!” “My turn!” “I want to say it!”
Sometimes, they were too eager.
“No, it’s my turn!” “She said it last time!”
Thankfully, we had several opportunities, daily, to each take our turns. We used, and continue to use, those opportunities to teach our children the importance of prayer, especially the undeniable power it can bring into our lives as a family.
It was exciting when the baby, our son, was old enough to take his turn, too. At first, he shared in the joy of saying the family prayer. One day, about the age of 4, we were surprised by his sudden willingness to give his turn over to one of his older sisters.
Family prayer had always been a priority for my husband and me. From day one in our marriage, we wanted to follow the counsel of the Savior when he said, “Pray in your families unto the Father, in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed.” (1)
We knew of the blessings that come from family prayer.
We knew it would bring greater peace, love, gratitude, humility, compassion and obedience.
We knew our example, as parents, would allow us to more fully share our testimonies and teach our children important eternal truths if we were consistent in family prayer.
We knew it would provide faith building opportunities when our children saw and felt our prayers were answered. We believed President Henry B. Eyring when he stated, “Parents should teach their children to pray. The child learns both from what the parents do and what they say. The child who sees a mother or a father pass through the trials of life with fervent prayer to God and then hears a sincere testimony that God answered in kindness will remember what he or she saw and heard. When trials come, that individual will be prepared.” (2)
We knew it would safeguard our children against succumbing to the world’s ever-changing and declining morals. As President Thomas S. Monson warned, “Perhaps there has never been a time when we had greater need to pray and to teach our family members to pray. Prayer is a defense against temptation. It is through earnest and heartfelt prayer that we can receive the needed blessings and the support required to make our way in this sometimes difficult and challenging journey we call mortality.” (3)
I credit my husband for his diligence in taking the lead on family prayer. By supporting his rightful role as a presiding father, we have appreciated each of these blessings and loved watching our children grow in faith, understanding and unity. We wanted each of our children to participate in and recognize these blessings.
I asked our young son about his hesitation. He explained his frustration that he couldn’t say them like the rest of us. He didn’t like that his were just “little boy prayers.”
Together and over the course of several weeks, my husband and I assured him that his prayers were heard and were just as important as anyone else’s. With renewed confidence, he eventually started volunteering more often. A few weeks had passed when he gave me the most tender hug after morning prayer and said, “Thanks for always helping me say my ‘little boy prayers,’ Mom.”
Prayer will strengthen our families and, in turn, will strengthen society. With the widening gulf between the world’s way and the Lord’s way, family prayer can provide our children with a strong foundation and will to follow the Lord’s way. President Gorden B. Hinkley counseled, “…family prayer in the homes of the people is one of the basic medications that would check the dread disease that is eroding the character of our society….The family is the basic unit of society. The praying family is the hope of a better society.” (4)
25 years ago, President James E. Faust told of an interview President Spencer W. Kimball held with a bishop. President Kimball had asked this bishop how often he held family prayer. The bishop admitted that although he tried to hold family prayer twice a day, his family probably averaged only once a day. The prophet wisely answered, “In the past, having family prayer once a day may have been all right. But in the future it will not be enough if we are going to save our families.” (5)
I believe that future is now. Now, more than ever, we need to “teach our children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord” (6) for the “Lord heareth the prayers of the righteous” (7), even ‘little boy prayers.’ Now is the time to pray IN our families and FOR our families.
One day, your children and their posterity may give you the most tender hug and say “Thanks.”
1. 3 Nephi 18:21
2. Henry B. Eyring, That He May Write upon Our Hearts, Liahona, Aug 2009
3. Thomas S. Monson, Three Goals to Guide You, Oct 2007 General Conference
4. Gordon B. Hinkley
The Blessings of Family Prayer, Ensign Feb 1991, emphasis added
5. James E. Faust, The Greatest Challenge of the World-Good Parenting, Oct 1990 General Conference
6. Doctrine & Covenants 68:28
7. Proverbs 15:29
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