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 4 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, in 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 the particular kind of rice, I realized that day that family prayer time should be a top priority in our lives.
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 the 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 to 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. If someone creates something that helps us, we should use it. God created us to all have special giftings for this specific reason!
I’ll list some of our favorite prayer resources below, but for now, just know that using a tool isn’t a cop-out. It’s a wise use of time, energy, and creativity!
The only word of caution I would give you is to be careful about resources that restrict you. Pre-written prayers may give you ideas sometimes, but the temptation to read it without the words being from your heart is just too great.
Instead, look for prayer resources that offer prompts or prayer points. You might also look for Bible studies that teach you how to pray or encourage you to dig deeper.
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 5 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 your 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 it gives 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. That’s the time 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 to pray for the ways that God wants us to grow, such as 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. How ever 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 then 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 that 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 in strips of paper and add them to a small jar in your basket.
Compassion International has a free prayer calendar to help you pray over the needs of children all over the world. It’s updated each month and is 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 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 confessed their part in the disagreement.
Once the disagreement has been talked about, 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 Tool
If you’d like a practical tool to help your family structure your prayer time in a simple but effective way, check out our JOY prayer cards! These sturdy, colorful cards give specific topics and prayer points using the JOY prayer acronym – Jesus, Others, Yourself.