Prayer is one of those practices that is undeniably central to our discipleship. It’s a way we communicate with God our hopes, fears, desires and adoration. Praying reflects a connection we have with God and when we pray with others, our connection with them is strengthened as well. In a marital relationship, prayer is an activity that will not only draw a couple close to each other through the expression of their hearts but will even decrease the likelihood of divorce. While the national average for divorce is right at 50% the divorce rate for couples who pray together 3-5 times a week is 1 in 1200.  A statistic this remarkable warrants the attention of any couple that wants to guarantee the success of their marriage.
Sometimes it can be difficult to pray with our spouse. For many reasons we can feel inhibited in sharing this part of our walk with Christ in our marriage. On the next page below is a way to beginning the journey toward praying openly from your heart with your spouse. While simple in it’s approach, it may feel unnatural at first. The goal is to provide a “scripted stepping stone” that gets you as a couple talking with God in front of each other.
- Plan a short time (4-5 minutes) where you and your spouse can pray together uninterrupted.
- Choose one person to go first. This person reads only the first line of Prayer Number 1 and fills in the blank with their own words.
- Now it is the other spouse’s turn. Read the first line and fill in the blank with your own words.
- Continue through the prayer until you have read through all four lines.
The first prayer is a good place to start if you have never prayed with your spouse. As you grow more comfortable sharing this time together, move on to the second prayer. It gets a little more into the heart without being too intimidating. As this way of praying becomes more natural, venture into wording your own prayers or take turns providing prompts for each other. Below are some additional examples of prayer prompts.
Prayer for Married Couples: Number 1
God, you are so ___________ .
(share something with God that you like about him!)
God, sometimes its hard for me to ___________ .
(tell God about a struggle you have)
God, I want to thank you for ___________ .
(show God that you appreciate something he’s done)
God, one thing I ask is that you ___________ .
(tell God something you need from him)
Prayer for Married Couples: Number 2
God, when I think about you it makes me feel ___________ .
Today, I really needed your grace when I ___________ .
When I think of all the things you’ve done it makes me want to ___________ .
God, you always take care of my needs. Something I need is ___________ .
ADDITIONAL PRAYER PROMPT EXAMPLES:
- God, it was amazing today when you ___________ .
- God, I want to work harder on ___________ .
- Please give me strength to ___________ .
- As I think back on my day, I’m real proud that I ___________ .
- God I get so sad sometimes when ___________ .
- God when I read in your word about ___________ it made me feel ___________ .
My prayer for you and your spouse is that you grow to the greatest depths of intimacy in your marriage through your conversations with God.
 Gallup Poll conducted in 1989-90 entitled “Love and Marriage.” Results reported in Faithful Attraction by Andrew Greeley, 1991 St. Martins Press
Back in January I got to hear Mark Scandrette talk about his faith community in California. I was captivated by what he had to say about the Jesus Dojo and decided to attempt something similar with our families at church over this past summer.
We decided that on Wednesday nights we would have “Family Dojo.” Dojo means “way of life.” We wanted our families to center their way of life around the teachings of Jesus. To do this we looked at short passages from the Sermon on the Mount, shared in some discussion then experimented with what it would be like to live those passages out during the week. The response was varied. Some families found it natural to “experiment” in this way, others it was forced. I wasn’t bothered by this since the goal was simply to discover practical ways of living out the ways of Jesus. If it proved difficult for families, then perhaps they were able to reflect on what may need to change about their family rhythm. Families that found the experiments fitting naturally into their lives said the kids would remind the parents of what they were supposed to do!
Below are links to the short devotionals I put together and offered to the families.
- Hokey Pokey
- Praying with Jesus
- Reminder Rocks
- Secret Mission
- Tattle Tale Boomerang
- Trading My Worries Away
- Turn That Frown Upside Down
- Yes Be Yes & No Be No
- You’re Already Bright!
I have been a volunteer in children’s ministries for most of my life. It wasn’t until this past January that I became a volunteer after having been a full-time children’s minister. I have to admit, it was somewhat challenging but I welcomed the chance to do all the things I have been hoping my own volunteers would do for the last four years. How easily we forget the difficulties that volunteers have. This afternoon I met up with another volunteer who is considering joining me in teaching the 2nd & 3rd graders this school year. We had an excellent discussion and I was flattered by some of his comments. As a children’s minister turned volunteer I reflected on things that most children’s ministers wished volunteers knew. These are a few things that, though they try to communicate, often get lost in translation.
Full-Time Children’s Ministers Wish Volunteers Would:
- TRULY know how thankful they are. A banquet, thank-you note, or Sunday morning donuts don’t do it justice.
- Give them a boost from time to time. Its hard work. Period. Sadly, many parents hand off the spiritual upbringing of their kids to the church staff. Children’s ministers have to walk the tight-rope of wanting to meet a spiritual need while at the same time handing the responsibility back to the parents. Don’t forget to share your appreciation of them with the senior pastor!
- Take a break. My children’s minister friends may not want to admit this but they really do. If you are a FANTASTIC volunteer (if you are not on staff and have read this far, you qualify!) they want you for the long haul. Do yourself and the ministry a favor and let the Lord fill your cup to overflowing. The overflow is where our service ought to come from.
- Hype it up! Children’s ministry really is the most exciting ministry of the church. We have an incredible chance to shape kids when they are the most receptive! The ministers rely on volunteers to keep the momentum going and spread the excitement!
- Invite and mentor others. As a volunteer you are the best billboard for the ministry as well as the best way for newbies to receive on-the-spot equipping. Tap someone on the shoulder and ask them to sit in. Tell your children’s minister that you would be willing to be paired with someone to share the wealth of knowledge and experience you’ve gained while serving.
- Communicate with parents! This is a biggie. The parents might have more weekly interaction with you as their child’s teacher than with the children’s minister. You have the ability to get a pulse on the child’s home life, pass on ministry information to parents and give them cues to apply the lesson between Sundays better than anyone.
Children’s ministers really are standing on the shoulders of their volunteers. They don’t want to take this for granted. Every now and then as a volunteer you might feel that you are being asked to do too much. This might be the case. Or… it might be that you are the good and faithful servant who is being trusted with the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). This is an honor the master bestows on the ones that he trusts.
What are some things you’ve noticed your children’s minister really loves to see in their volunteers?
At Fourth Avenue we often have some extra time at the end of our children’s church and need to fill the time with an activity or two until the parents come to get the kids.
Here’s what I am curious about:
1. What do other children’s ministers find to be a useful way to spend that time?
2. Where do you gather ideas for what to do?
3. What sort of burdens do you feel as you try to fill the time? (Do you feel the need to review the lesson, use the time for “holy” activities, etc.)
Thanks for commenting!