Hello lovelies! Today, I have the pleasure of introducing my first guest blogger, Sarah Holmstrom! I met Sarah up at Hume Lake when we were both tagging along with our youth pastor husbands to winter camp. I immediately knew she was someone I wanted to be friends with. She has this light about her that is so refreshing and she seems to handle the chaos of multiple kids with such grace and ease. She’s a Southern California mama of 4 and the co founder of a ministry called “Raising Prayerful Kids”.
I am always getting ideas from her account about ways to incorporate prayer in my parenting life and how to get my kids excited about knowing Jesus. I just know you will love her as much as I do, so without further ado, I’ll let you hear from her yourself…
Does anyone else feel like being a parent is the most overwhelming job in all the world? People keep using the phrase, “decision fatigue,” and I totally get it now. We have to make about 8,000 decisions a day per tiny person we are raising.
What should we feed them, what sports should we sign up for, how much screen time is too much, should we spank, does this offense deserve a timeout, should we buy organic, do we choose homeschool, private school, public school, and what do we do about sleepover invitations?
Yes, it’s nap time! Do I vacuum, fold laundry, finish work projects, or do some self-care?
(By the time you make that decision, they’re awake anyway.)
Yep, the decisions and the intense pressure not to ruin our kids lives are absolutely exhausting! I have gone through seasons where I have stayed stuck in fear, guilt, and shame over my parenting. Other times, I’ve tried to make light of this intense pressure I feel--I’ve shrugged off the significance of my role and joked about hiding from my kids while eating chocolate behind the pantry door. Even worse, I’ve tried to suck it up and just pretend that I’m doing it all perfectly. Have you been there too?
I believe that there is another way.
The Creator of the universe never meant for us to carry these decisions and burdens on our own. He made our kids and loves them even more than we do. He wants to speak to us about our kids and lead us each day. He longs to help us breathe in, breathe out, and let go.
God makes it pretty clear how we are to parent and it’s much simpler than we make it.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is older he will not depart from it.”
Our main job is to teach our kids about Jesus and to pray for them and with them every single day.
This is so refreshing and relieving to me. It means I can let go of my desire to do all the things--to feed them superfoods, do Pinterest crafts with them, make sure we have awesome family devotionals, and keep a perfectly clean house. These things aren’t bad. These things are awesome, they’re just not first! My husband calls this idea Priority Parenting. We always tell our kids that what matters most to us is that they would know and love Jesus.
But how do we do this? Life is so busy, how do we fit in praying with kids in a meaningful and substantial way.
About a year and a half ago, my friend Stephanie called me and we talked about these things. We talked about how much we wanted to be incredible moms and yet how overwhelmed we were. We chatted about how the biggest desire of our hearts was to teach our kids to love Jesus. She then told me a story about a friend of hers who just started following Jesus but was looking for advice on how to pray with her kids.
“Sarah, I’ve been praying about it…I think we’re supposed to write a book together on how to pray with your kids.”
“Think about it Sarah. We have both been working in ministry all of our adult lives. We have education and theology backgrounds. And we ’re both done having babies so we have more free time!”
“Steph…actually, I'm pregnant” I told her. We had just found out we were having baby number four. I took some time to think and pray about it and ultimately decided that God was leading me to join her in this endeavor after all. Little did I know that God would use our research and writing and experimenting with more ways to pray to completely transform my family.
We started a ministry together called Raising Prayerful Kids and our goal is to help families find a couple of prayer activities that they can smoothly integrate into their lives. We believe these activities will bring you and your kids closer to each other while bringing you closer to God. You can visit our blog here where we have three different categories of ways to pray with your kids--prayer games (easy, quick games you can incorporate into any car ride, bath time, dinner table time, etc), focused prayers (prayers that require a little bit more time and intentionality but are still super simple), and contemplative prayers (special prayers that are the deepest and most meaningful, but may take a little practice).
Here are some practical ways you can incorporate prayer more often into your day without taking up time or adding extra stuff to your plate:
1- Play the Grateful Game. You can play this simple game anywhere, with any age! Take turns as a family naming things that you are grateful for. “Thank you Jesus for…” For an extra challenge-you can go through the alphabet as a family. A- “Thank you Jesus for Apples, they are delicious.” B “ Thank you Jesus for the Beach, it’s one of my favorite places." etc. This simple game can quickly reset the mind and heart and bring more joy to your home.
2- Prayer of Examen. Over dinner or any family meal, incorporate some intentional table talk. What was the best part of your day and what was the hardest? How did you see God working throughout your day? Praise God together that He is with us in the highs and lows!
3- Nature Prayer Walk. Are you already heading to the park or walking around the block? Take a family walk and help your kids admire all that you see. For younger kids, you can bring a bucket or basket and have them collect pieces of nature. (You can even use these items for an art project when you get home!) For older kids, encourage them to take photos of the beauty that they see. Thank God for each item and point out how creative He is.
4- Breath Prayers. Teach your kids to say short breath prayers. Breathe in and say, “Holy Spirit.” Breathe out and say, “Bring me Peace.” This is a great way to calm tension and to stop a tantrum in its tracks. Breath prayers are great for you to use throughout the day in front of your children. When they hear you call on Jesus for help, you are modeling your faith for them.
5- Praise Party. Need a reset in your day? Pump some praise tunes and take a two minute break from whatever you’re doing to just dance and sing and worship God with your people. Not only does this activity worship God, but it gets the endorphins flowing and brings you together in a memorable way.
I wish I had time here to explain all the ways that my love for my kids has grown through praying more often with them. Life is crazier than ever--my husband is a pastor and we are both busy with ministry and work, we have four kids six and under, one of my kids has a heart disease, and another has chronic asthma. Life is full and chaotic at times, but we have never had more peace than we do now. We have never been more connected. Praying more often with and for my kids has brought so much peace to our home and it’s reminded me that God is with me and with us.
So, friend, remember today that God is for you. He cares for you and wants to remind you that out of all the parents in the whole world, He chose you to parent your child. So breathe in, breathe out, and spend time in prayer today. Ask God to help you make all your decisions. Ask Him to carry your burdens and give you the strength you need to get through your day. If you get nothing else done today, spend a minute or two praying with and for your kids.