One of the most important things we did right as Parents

April 16, 2015
Do you have any idea how important this is? I doubt it. We did it because we were told we should. It felt right.
As the children got older, we doubled up.
Now we’re reaping the rewards.

Our youngest son is serving as a missionary in the Salt Lake City West mission. He’s our seventh child, seventh missionary.
Thomas was always kinda quiet around home. Ask him a question in Family Home Evening and his favorite answer  was “I have no clue.” I wondered how hard he had to work to be so clueless! (I was his seminary teacher his freshman year and he was never clueless then. He had thoughtful answers and seemed to know things. But NEVER for weeknight scripture reading!)
But from long before he was born, we had been doing some things right.
Last week’s letter:

“Some of our investigators were having some trouble with their kids. They were really worried about them. I was able to testify to them about family prayer because we always had it.

I don’t know why Thomas equates family prayer with keeping kids on the strait and narrow. But we held it. First thing in the morning. Even when the kids were small and Jeff left at 6:00 for his long commute into Simi Valley in Southern California, we’d get the kids up for prayer and then off he’d go. They’d all go back to bed for an hour or so. I’m not sure they were awake enough to know what day it was, but they knew the routine and never complained. It was even harder when seminary started at 5:30 AM and we’d get everyone up for prayers and then everyone but the seminary student and the parent that was driving her would go back to bed.

Then, last thing before the youngest went to bed, we’d hold evening prayer. We’d partner it with reading a few passages from the Scripture. It was nothing fancy, believe me. Sometimes we’d ask a question about what had been read and nobody knew. But the promises that go with having daily family prayer are too good to pass up! So we plugged along.
It wasn’t always reverent.
It wasn’t often reverent.
Sometimes we’d get to laughing about the manifestation of some bodily function and we couldn’t stop laughing until Dad got mad and occasionally stomped off in his righteous irritation. But we plugged along.

By the time Chris, our number 6 child left for school and then on his mission, for the next four years, it was just the three of us. We’d pray twice a day, every day so that meant we’d each have our turn about 5 times a week. It was almost funny.

But now Thomas is “testifying about family prayer.” It’s the advice he’s giving to worried parents for helping them feel closer as a family. He thinks it will protect their children from harm and from temptation.

Now my husband and I pray together every morning and continue with our “couple prayers.” We pray for those children… and their spouses, and our grandchildren. We know that each of them are praying in their own homes. They’re reading scriptures and telling bedtime stories.

Now our nest is nothing but a few downy feathers settling into the dusty bedrooms. And it was worth it. It was worth the forfeit of sleep when I was already sleep-deprived. It was worth the risk of a routine replacing true worship. They were teeny tiny sacrifices compared with the flood of blessings that deluge us as our posterity thrives.

Don’t give up. Establish the pattern. You never know what rust you’re polishing off from the whole armor of God for one of your children. You’ll never know what temptation will assault them but not weaken them.
Feed them hotdogs and mac and cheese every day if you must, but DO NOT SKIP FAMILY PRAYERS!
It’s worth it. I promise!

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  • Reply Jessica April 16, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    It's good to know for young moms like me who are in the thick of things that the things we do aren't in vain.

    So many days, things like family prayer just seem like one more thing to do. I sometimes wonder is it even worth it.

  • Reply Beth Stephenson April 16, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    True, Jessica. Having come out on the other side of the intense parenting stage, I feel like I want you young moms and dads to know how important your daily routines are to your children's futures. Thanks for commenting!

  • Reply Tricia April 28, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    The most important things in parenting really are the simple things, it seems. Great post. Funny story, folding arms (and being reverent) for prayers is something we're working on with McCoey. It's funny because somehow he's gotten it mixed up with his new skill of clapping his hands. Every time we tell him to fold his arms for prayers, he starts clapping proudly!

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