About two years ago, as our family grew (with twins), my husband and I found the need to divide and conquer to survive the night-time routine. Our (then) five year old, was at the stage where stories and prayers were a compulsory part of her evenings – more important than dinner or even dessert.
We had established some good routines with her, in particular a regular prayer schedule, which included nights to pray for family members, god-parents and missionary friends. As part of our division of labour, prayer time became the domain of Daddy, just before the last comforting cuddle and kiss.
It wasn’t until Father's Day this year that I became aware of the gift that this time has been. Both to my husband, as head of his family, and my daughter in experiencing prayerful leadership. Recently at school, she had to write some thoughts on what she loves about Daddy. Her contribution was:
“I love my dad because dad takes me to McDonalds when mum goes to Sydney. Sometimes we have pillow fights. We also share our money and we always do prays together and the Lord’s Prayer. In the morning I wake up and I have a cuddle with my dad. I love my dad.”
Now, skipping over the McDonalds and money, to the shining gem in the middle, “we always do prays together”. The nightly routine is so significant that it featured in the things she loves about Dad – completely unprompted. I was, quite simply, delighted and awestruck.
Some reflection on this has made me identify what is great about this:
- Men are tasked to pray in 1 Timothy. It could be argued that blokes like to fix things, and this can become the role Dads play in a family. But, nightly, the Dad in our house shows that things are fixed through prayer – from being scared at night, to concern for friends who are sad. All these things are dealt with in the prayers with Dad.
- It encourages a strong model of leadership/headship, with an emphasis on prayer, and reliance on God.
- My daughter’s current role model is a man who prays with her. I hope she learns this is a valuable thing to look for in a future husband. For a son, it could be a great opportunity to learn it is ‘manly’ to lead the family with prayer.
- Our daughter is talking with her Dad about her struggles, and prayer is becoming a natural response.
Of course, there can also be benefits when mums pray with their children, or when families pray all together. But for our family, this night-time routine has had some wonderful outcomes I hope will strengthen our girl's reliance on God, and establish a healthy routine for life.
So, how about it Dads? You don’t need to have twins to mix it up a little, and see whether your family can benefit from some leadership in prayer!
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