In the spring we heard a message by our pastor on the topic of culture in the home. He basically said that every family creates a culture within their home which teaches the kids what's important.
I think our kids know pretty well some of the things that are important to us, but we felt like we could definitely improve in some specific areas right now.
Our pastor told us how one family had a prayer journal. They used the notebook to write down prayer requests, used it to guide them in praying, and then documented answers to prayer. They are teaching their children that prayer is important to them.
I came home and found a notebook, thinking we should document answered prayer too. We have been teaching our kids about prayer, we pray as a family, and we celebrate (and point out) when God answers prayer.
However, Joel had a better idea. He suggested a prayer jar! Though the big plastic jar that once housed peanut butter filled pretzels still had the label on it, we wiped it out and stuck in slips of paper with prayer requests written on them. (Eventually I cleaned the label off completely. That's partly why this post has taken me so long to get up since my friend Beth asked me about it this summer!)
Each night, we read a story from our devotional Bible. We found one we absolutely love and had a goal to read through it this summer. We are currently reading through it for the third time. Our kids LOVE it and so do we. You can read about it here. After we read our Bible story, we each pull a slip of paper from the prayer jar. As a family, we each pray for one request (sometimes the kids want to pray for other things, too, which is allowed of course!).
I noticed that some of the people were starting to confuse the kids, so I decided to print pictures and write the requests on the back. It has really helped the kids focus on who we're praying for. Now that some requests have been in the jar for a while, the kids actually recognize them (even those that are just handwriting) and can tell us what the request says.
Once a request is prayed over, it goes into a smaller jar. When all the requests have been prayed through, we dump them back in the big jar and start over. If we come to a request that's been answered, we pull it from the jar and hang it on our world map. The map hangs in our dining room and has pictures of various missionaries throughout the world who are serving the Lord.
Our corner of answered prayer keeps growing! Joel and I are praying our kids will continually know how vital they are to the body of Christ. They may not be able to work in our ministry office, but they can pray. And, their faith is incredible! They are our teachers often.