Praying needs to be more than saying Grace

It may come as a surprise that though I think it an incredibly useful and important act of thankfulness, I have not said grace at a meal with my family in months. You see, my 3-year-old is in a stage of life where she very diligently says grace before every meal without fail. In fact, it is to her abject horror when anyone else dare to take her God-given mantel of grace-saying—a very formulaic one at that: “Dear Jesus, thank you for our yummy [breakfast/lunch/dinner]. Amen”

The thing that I’ve then had to wrestle with is not only how to teach my daughter that prayer and thankfulness is not just through a simple (though important) grace said before meals, but how we speak with God. And it’s hard.

Yes, we say a prayer each night before bed. I will say she gets easily distracted at these times, and although she loves to ask difficult theological questions at this time (see 3-year-old theology), it’s still difficult to keep us praying to Jesus without wandering.  I was reflecting on this tonight when I realised it. She’s the same as me.

I also struggle to keep myself praying to Jesus. I wander in my thoughts all the time! How often do I find myself, with all good intention, sitting down to pray, thinking over what I might be praying for, for less than 10 seconds before my mind wanders to the weather?! And this makes me realise I need to pray. Pray that I might be a better role model for my daughter to follow. Pray through my own failings and ask God to draw me near to him just ask I ask him to draw my daughter near.

Don’t we all want to give our children better habits than we can muster ourselves? I wish that I might not be a source of knowledge of God to her but a living example of someone who loves Jesus with their whole heart.

It’s not something I can do on my own. So please excuse me while I pray.


Malcolm Purdey is a Christian, husband, father, student minister and science nerd. He completed a PhD in Chemistry and worked as a research scientist before making the jump into ministry in early 2017. He has been married for 5 years and has two daughters aged 3 and 1.

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