In episode 123 and in episode 124, we were talking about prayer, and in episode 124, we talked about mealtime prayers. Pastor John, in your opinion, what’s more valuable: impromptu prayers before a meal or memorized prayers?
I think the wise thing to do would be to mix it up. If the only prayers that children hear their parents pray are memorized prayers, it will probably communicate to them that is the only way you can pray to God, at least at mealtime. And yet, I don’t want to discount memorized and well-thought-through prayers, because they have a blessing too.
Blessings of Memorized Prayers
And the blessing they have is that they say things often that we need to say and might forget to say if we hadn’t thought them through. They are also easy to memorize for little children, and they have a kind of family identification and bonding effect.
“To hear a dad or mom pray, and to let the children pray spontaneous prayers has something also very important to communicate.”
If I think of our family, Tony, years and years ago I wrote three prayers, one for the morning, one for lunch, and one for supper. We went to Brazil for Benjamin’s wedding. That has been some time ago now. But that is how old he was, and Karsten was already married. And this Brazilian family turned to me and said, “Would you say grace over the meal?” And some of them are believers probably, and some weren’t. And I took a risk and I said, “Well, I will tell you what. I would like my whole family to say the grace for you.” And then I began with the prayer. Let me see if I can put my finger on it right now. Here’s the morning one:
Our Father, every day you give the food by which our bodies live. For this we thank you from our heart and pray that as we this day start, you might allow our eyes to see your endless generosity.
So I wrote that. I wrote one for noon and I wrote one for supper and we said them. There in Brazil, we got all the way through our prayer together as a family. And so I am just illustrating that I believe in prepared, memorized prayers. And yet, I want to say, to hear a dad or mom pray, and to let the children pray spontaneous prayers has something also very important to communicate.