In the daily grind that is parenting, consider the things we do over and over that aren’t always fun but are necessary to keep our families moving forward – things like diaper changes, meal preparation, and laundry come to mind, among others. The repetition of these things happens so often that we sometimes do them without giving them too much thought. However, if we were to stop and think about the consequences of not doing them, then we realize their importance.
Let’s take laundry for example. You could probably stop doing laundry for a couple of weeks, but neglect this chore beyond that, and your entire family would begin to stink. Others would notice your family’s less than stellar odor and, for fear that your stink would wear off on them, possibly choose to not be around you anymore. How does this relate to our spiritual lives? Prayer ought to be as routine a task as doing laundry, or our spiritual lives begin to suffer…or stink. Let’s look at what Christ says about prayer. When the disciples asked Christ to teach them how to pray, He said to them
So He said to them, “When you pray, say:Luke 11:2-4 NKJV
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us day by day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.”
This is a model for daily prayer. Think of it as an outline more than something to be recited back to God. We know this because Christ instructs the disciples to ask for their daily bread. So, prayer should be occurring at a minimum of once per day, which means it should be a part of our daily routine.
Paul says it another way when he reminds us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). If we look to Jesus example, we see “very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35). Jesus started His day by being in connection with the Father through prayer. If we want to be like Jesus, then prayer should be a part of the “daily grind” of our spiritual lives. I think it should happen first in our day, and we should be alone when we do it in these early hours.
Does the absence of prayer show up in our lives?
Yes! How can this lack of obedience to God’s instruction to pray affect our lives? I notice for myself that when I don’t pray, I’m more impatient with my children throughout the day. I’m less interested in building up their character and teaching them about life. Instead, I’m interested in myself and what I want to do. The absence of prayer affects our daily lives by also allowing ungratefulness, grumbling, and other sins to creep in and get a foothold. Over time these sins can take root and expand to be larger and larger.
Does this affect the daily grind of parenting?
Absolutely! When I’m praying, I notice that I’m generally happier, more flexible throughout my day by allowing God to guide my steps, and I’m much more patient with my children. I’m able to take the tantrums and potty-training mess ups in stride because I’m thinking about God’s larger purposes. Also, if we choose to make prayer a part of our daily lives, God can reveal areas of our lives that are not in submission to Him, shift our focus from our own agenda to His agenda, which has a huge impact on the interactions we have with others. I hope this will encourage you to let prayer become a part of your “daily grind” so that your life doesn’t become stinky with sin but instead be a sweet aroma to God and to those around you.
At the end of a prayerful day, regardless of whether or not it went according to my plan, I feel peace, knowing that beginning the day in prayer allows God, the perfect Father that He is, to parent through me. On days that I don’t pray this way, I’m doing it on my own, in my own power. Those are long, hard days.