Posted by: Jeremy Little
February 14, 2013
Before you conjure up images of Jacob wrestling the angel or even go to thoughts of Christian lingo to describe being persistent in prayer, stop. I’m talking about physically wrestling with my kids at night when we pray at bedtime. It might not fit into a five point outline in a book on fathering and how to train kids to pray, but I do think it conveys much more to our children than just a Christian checklist.
A few years ago I was really frustrated. We’d all get onto the big bed (what our kids call Melanie and my bed), we’d read a bit and then I would pray. Half the time the kids were completely uninterested and talked to each other, the other half they were making fart noises. We’d struggled to get them to engage in prayer with us and develop any kind of hunger in their hearts for God and a desire to communicate with Him. Honestly, praying was the last thing on the list of things they’d like to be doing at the moment.
I was at the end of my rope. The time I wished would be a memory for my kids in their old age had become one of the most dreaded parts of the day. We called it the marathon hour…just..make..it..to..bedtime. I had been praying for a few weeks about how to better engage the kids with Jesus and show them the God we knew. In a moment of frustration one night it just happened! I yelled, “WRESTLE PRAYER!” and it all went down: pillows, blankets and bodies all over the place and while this was happening I was praying out loud blessing, protection, and a deep understanding of the grace found in the gospel. Recently having them wrestle prayer me has really caused them to engage in our evening ritual of reading, wrestling and praying.
Now I should back up and say this doesn’t happen every single night, but a few times through out the week, mixed with times of praying with no head locks and body slams involved.
I believe wrestle prayer does a few things:
1. Removes the verbal battle of trying to convince my kids they should pray and just gets them doing it.
2. Shows them that following Jesus and religion is not always a somber ritual that we just need to grin and bear. Following Jesus is full of joy, life, and laughter!
3. Especially for my boys, gives them the sense that God wants to bring who they are and what He has created them for before Him.
We probably aren’t going to wrestle prayer when they are in high school, though maybe we will? And I don’t recommend wrestle prayer with your wife, but as men who are to lead our homes spiritually we need to ask ourselves: How are we doing that? If not this way, then how are we engaging our kids in prayer and teaching them about God? Not just the “to-do list” but developing with in them a passion for God and the truth found in the gospel.