Teaching Children Purposeful Prayer

When our five children were young, my husband and I felt we had done a good job teaching them the format of prayer. They knew to begin by addressing Heavenly Father and to close in the name of Jesus Christ. Additionally, they knew to include thanks for their blessings. Yet something was missing. Prayers were offered on a routine basis, but that’s what they were—routine. How could we help our children sincerely communicate with Heavenly Father without a crisis to pray about? The answer came when a family friend asked us to pray that her husband might find better employment. The children loved this friend and wanted to help. Because they had something specific to pray about, their petitions became sweet and sincere.

Since that experience, we often discuss beforehand specific things our children might include in their prayers. Some of the things we’ve prayed for include the recovery of a sick cousin, help on a test, and the ability to make friends. By helping our children to pray for specific needs, our prayers as parents have become more meaningful too.

Lisa H. Fernelius, Chambersburg First Ward, York Pennsylvania Stake

What Do You Know about Mom?

Where was Mom born? What’s her favorite food? Could your children correctly answer these questions about you?

A few years ago, I discovered that mine didn’t know as much about me as I had assumed. For a family home evening lesson before Mother’s Day, I prepared a short, multiple-choice quiz about my background as well as likes and dislikes. Though my children enjoyed learning more about me, I was surprised at how many things I thought I had told them but they couldn’t recall.

Though I didn’t initially expect to learn much from a quiz about me, perhaps I learned the most poignant lesson—it’s important to share my life stories with my children now, not someday.

Since this experience, I have tried to tell my children more about myself and other family members, and I am writing my personal history.

Try preparing a similar quiz to spotlight your parents, your husband for Father’s Day, or any family member at any time. It’s a fun, simple way to help prevent your life history from becoming forgotten history.

Michelle H. Thompson, Smithfield 13th Ward, Smithfield Utah Stake

[illustrations] Illustrated by Joe Flores

Savings and the Scriptures

Family finances can quickly spiral out of control, in part because of worldly influences encouraging materialism. To more effectively resist these temptations, we use scriptural guidelines to help our family maintain an eternal perspective. Our favorites include the following:

“The borrower is servant to the lender” (Prov. 22:7). “Pay the debt. … Release thyself from bondage” (D&C 19:35).

To enjoy financial freedom, our family has researched and discussed the realities of debt and interest payments. We also encourage saving for a particular purchase, “making do” with what we have, or doing without items that would require going into debt.

“Let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power” (D&C 123:17). “A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance” (Prov. 15:13).

Having a good attitude helps us do our part to live within a budget. Our family focuses on three key areas:

  • Knowledge. As clearly and simply as possible, we share the household income and expense information with our children. As a family, we then set specific goals to reduce spending.

  • Responsibility. With our goals clearly stated, we then assign each family member one area of the budget to oversee. For a week or a month (rotating as needed), our family budgeters learn how to creatively save money for their particular category.

  • Rewards. As an incentive, we let family members keep a portion of their budget savings as long as family needs are met. Pooling savings to purchase a special item or fund a family vacation is also an effective reward.

Though Nephi was largely referring to spiritual growth when he said we should “liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit” (1 Ne. 19:23), I believe we can benefit temporally as well. By following scriptural counsel in our efforts to live within our means, we can know the peace of financial freedom.

Eileen Christensen, Hillcrest Ward, Murray Utah South Stake

Family Home Evening Helps: Dear Missionary

Our family spent a recent home evening writing to our missionary son. We wanted everyone to have the chance to give personal, creative advice about circumstances a missionary might experience.

We first created a list of potential challenges: transfers, new companions, illness, unfriendly encounters, bad weather, dog bites, and others. Each family member then chose one of these topics and wrote suggestions for the particular situation. When we completed our letters, we shared our responses with each other before sending the packet of letters to our son. The responses were unique and interesting to review—we especially enjoyed the advice given by our four-year-old daughter, who drew pictures and had Mom add captions.

Not only were we able to support our son during this family project, but we also learned about the views and experiences of our other children and shared insights about missionary service.

Kelly D. Shepherd, Lewisville First Ward, Lewisville Texas Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Beth Whittaker