Family prayer time is a great way to grow your faith as a family. Check out these prayer acronyms, tips, and ideas to make your family prayer time fun and effective!
It was a fairly average evening at the dinner table. I mentioned that I couldn’t find a particular family favorite at the grocery store, so we’d have to do without.
My youngest, just four at the time, immediately offered a solution. “Mom, we can pray like George!”
George? I chuckled at the thought. George wasn’t his friend—he was a missionary in a book we’d been reading who had started an orphanage for the many children wandering the streets in England.
Money was tight, and George depended on God for provision. One particular time when the orphanage ran out of food, George instructed the children and caretakers to come to the table to eat, having faith that God would somehow provide. As they sat at the table praying, God answered and provided for their extreme need by sending several people with the necessary food.
It was a lesson in prayer and faith that clearly my son had taken to heart. And he was right. Although we weren’t starving and could definitely do without that particular kind of rice, I realized that day that family prayer time should be a top priority in our lives.
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Why Should You Have a Family Prayer Time?
I’m going to be honest: praying as a family comes with its fair share of challenges. The kids are different ages. The dog is barking. Everything in our world is distracting. Oh, and many of us struggle with knowing how to pray.
Be encouraged! Even the disciples had to learn how to pray. And I’d like to note that Jesus thought it was important enough to stop and spend time teaching them.
We ought to take note of that lesson.
Prayer is important enough that we need to stop and take time to teach our family how to do it.
Then we need to make time to do it together regularly because our very lives depend on it. Think about it—prayer is the way we talk to God. If we want a relationship with God, we will need to learn this skill. But it’s a little more than that.
Praying together as a family helps us see His hand in our lives.
This is the one thing the Israelites kept getting wrong. They would love God, follow Him, and praise Him. Then they would forget all that He had done for them.
The Bible says we are a forgetful people. We must be intentional to come before the Lord with thanksgiving, praise, and petition so we can continue to grow in faith!
Tips for Creating Your Family Prayer Time
Come as You Are.
God isn’t interested in lofty, super-spiritual family prayers. He wants to meet us right where we are, in the middle of messy human life. So we can come to Him right where we are.
Yeah, I know we often make prayer a pretty formal thing in churches, but remember, Jesus rebuked the Pharisee for making a show out of his prayer (Matthew 6:5) and praised the man who came humbly.
If your family is in the middle of a family crisis, pray about it … no matter how messy it is. In the midst of a family celebration? Praise Him together for that. If your family needs to make a decision, invite God into that process through prayer.
Praying where we’re at teaches kids that no matter what we’re going through, God is near. He wants us to acknowledge Him and seek Him and praise Him through it all.
Use Resources on Prayer to Help You.
I always tell my kids we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. There are many prayer resources available, but the most important thing we can do is to teach our kids what the Bible says.
In the Garden is our Bible study that tackles the subject of prayer. Kids will learn what prayer is, when they should pray, and how to pray as they work through this study.
But knowing how and why to pray isn’t quite enough sometimes. I created the JOY Prayer Cards to help my kids get out of the rut of “thank you for this day” prayers and grow spiritually through a vibrant prayer life. We also have a second set, the ACTS Prayer Cards, based on the ACTS acronym.
Finally, I LOVE journaling my prayers. This stunning #NotConsumed Prayer Journal is an invaluable tool to help you record both your daily and your long-term prayers. This journal for teens/adults includes enough daily prayer pages to be used five days a week and is designed to last an entire year. Start revitalizing your prayer life today!
The only word of caution I would give you is to be careful about resources that restrict you. Pre-written prayers may provide you with ideas sometimes, but the temptation to read them without the words being from your heart is just too great.
Set a Time of Day.
Creating a habit of prayer always helps us stay consistent. Choose a time of day when the family is typically all home and then start small. Maybe begin with a short five-minute prayer time. Then slowly build up to longer prayer times, incorporating some of the prayer points below.
I recommend finding a time that is linked to something else you already do regularly. That’s the best way to establish a good habit. For example, after you finish dinner, linger at the table and have a time of prayer together. Or do it over breakfast.
Prayer Acronyms for Your Family Prayer Time
There are a number of ways you could pray during family prayer time. I think sometimes this is the thing we get hung up on. How do we pray? What do we pray about?
Remember what we said above. Come as you are. There isn’t a right way to pray because the Bible says we should pray continually or without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). That means prayer is literally our lifestyle. We can talk to God about the fungus in our toes, the rumble in our tummy, or the deep things like death.
Nothing is too little or too big for prayer!
One easy way to pray authentic, heart-felt prayers without feeling like a broken record is to use a prayer acronym. My family loves these, as they give us ideas for how to format or organize our prayers without getting mundane.
I think the ACTS prayer acronym was probably the first one I ever learned. It’s probably the most well-known, too.
- A is for adoration. This is when you tell God how amazing He is.
- C is for confession. This is when you confess any sins to the Lord.
- T is for thanksgiving. This is when you thank the Lord for all His blessings in your life.
- S is for supplication. This is when you present your requests to the Lord.
Another acronym you could use to help guide your prayer time is PRAY. This one is relatively new to me, but I’m really fond of the last letter, as it reminds us that while we have the job of praying, God has the job of deciding the outcome. We must yield our ideas to Him and trust them in His hands.
- P stands for praise.
- R stands for repent.
- A stands for ask.
- Y stands for yield.
Like the ACTS acronym above, this prayer starts with adoration or praise for who God is, then follows with confession of sins and petition or asking for needs. But as mentioned above, we get to end our prayer with the declaration that God’s will be done, and we’ll rest in His goodness.
JOY Prayer Acronym
This one is my personal favorite as it’s the one we use most often around the table. It’s simple even for little ones and puts a focus on others, which we often lack in our prayer time.
- J stands for Jesus and represents a time to praise and adore Him.
- O stands for others, giving us a time to focus our prayers on the needs of others.
- Y stands for yourself. This part of the prayer is meant to help us pray for the ways God wants us to grow, such as in humility, faithfulness, joy, etc.
Fun Ideas for Your Family Prayer Time
Start a Family Blessings List.
Over and over in Scripture, we’re instructed to enter God’s courts with praise. Yet, so often we can get stuck in a rut of complaining. Continually complaining about what we don’t have or don’t like steals the joy Jesus intends for our families and makes us blind to all of the ways He has blessed us.
One easy way to encourage your family to pray “thanksgiving” is by starting a blessings list. It could be as simple as a sheet of notebook paper stuck to the refrigerator or as fancy as a leather journal sitting on the kitchen cabinet. However, you want to do it, create a place where everyone in the family can write down all the things they’re thankful for.
Challenge each family member to write down at least one thing per day. Then at the end of each month, sit down together and praise the Lord for all the ways He has blessed you. Giving thanks together as a family is a simple way to bring prayer into everyday living.
Assign Prayer Partners.
This is particularly fun for larger families. Simply divide the family into groups of two and have each person share their prayer requests with their partner. Then have each partner commit to praying for that prayer request for the week.
At the end of the week, come back together as a family and spend time sharing the things you prayed for and how God might have answered that prayer. Learning to pray for others is an important, selfless act we can do as believers.
Have a Prayer Basket.
We have had one of these since my kids were very little. We fill it with things we want to remember to pray for. Here are just a few of the things we put in the basket:
- Missionary prayer letters or pictures
- Christmas cards from the previous year to pray through
- Church bulletin or prayer list
- Memory verse cards or favorite Scripture to pray through
- Small map or postcards from states: pray for the leaders/government and people who live there
- Write the names of relatives, classmates, neighbors, or coworkers on strips of paper and add them to a small jar in your basket
We have a free missions prayer calendar to help you pray over the needs of people all over the world. It’s one of our favorite components of the prayer basket.
Go on a Prayer Walk.
This idea is especially good for the little kiddos and those who like to move around. Who says you have to sit at a table to pray? Get outside and take a prayer walk.
You can pray for all kinds of things like:
- The people you pass (even if they are inside).
- The workers who make the neighborhood beautiful.
- The first responders who help when there is an emergency.
- The elements of creation that you see.
We even challenge ourselves to pray over every single thing we see. Neighbor’s car? Thank you, God, that our neighbors have a way to get around. Stray dog? Thank you, God, that you will never abandon us. It’s especially fun to challenge older kids to think outside the box on this one.
Utilize a Prayer “Stick.”
OK, well, it doesn’t have to be a stick. But find an object in your home that can easily be held. When disagreements arise between family members, use the object to help guide the conversation.
The person holding the object first confesses their part in the disagreement. Encourage them to say something like, “When I ____, I’m sure you felt _____.” Then they pass the object to the other person who also confesses their part in the disagreement.
Once the disagreement has been discussed, have each person take a turn praying confession to God for not showing love to their parent or sibling. We all need reminding that a sin against a person is ultimately a sin against our holy God.
Family Prayer Time Tools
The Bible tells us so much about prayer! By walking through Jesus’ example of prayer that He gave to His disciples, your kids and teens will learn why we pray and what we should pray for. If you’d like practical tools to help your family structure your prayer time in a simple but effective way, check out all our prayer resources.
More Prayer Resources
- Check out this post for help teaching children to pray.
- Grab some free printable Scripture cards for your prayer basket.
- Do a family Bible study to complement the family prayer time!
- Get a free school prayer calendar printable.
Through practical tools & Bible-based resources, Kim Sorgius is dedicated to helping your family GROW in faith so you can be Not Consumed by life’s struggles. Author of popular kid’s devotional Bible studies and practical homeschooling tools, Kim has a master’s degree in education and curriculum design coupled with over 2 decades of experience working with kids and teens. Above all, her most treasured job is mother and homeschool teacher of four amazing kiddos.