If Prayer Were A Hamburger

This summer, my wife and I, along with our children’s director at Covenant Life Church, are leading a small gr

oup for families. Over ice cream each week (yeah, not a weight loss small group!), we are discussing one aspect of how to follow Christ together as a family. The first week, we looked at praying as a family. How do you get your kids involved in

prayer? I can claim no original credit for the hamburger prayer model (my mom taught this to kids at her church for years), but it really is a great visual technique for training your kids in prayer. Each part of the hamburger reminds us of a different aspect of prayer. These are my notes from that lesson…


Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Phil 4:6).

The parts of a hamburger can remind us of the parts of a prayer!

What is prayer?

  • Prayer is talking with God
  • “Call to me and I will answer you and sow you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jer 33:3).
  • God promises that when we talk to him, he will answer us!

3 ways God answers prayer

  • Yes
  • No
  • Wait (not now)
  • So he will always answer us, but that doesn’t mean he will always give us what we want. Sometimes he wants something even better for us.

Hamburger Prayer Model

  • hamburgerTop bun: The address
    • How we start the prayer
    • How do you start your prayers?
    • Dear God, Dear Jesus, etc.
  • Meat: Praise and thanksgiving
    • The main piece of the prayer
    • Praise God for who he is and what he has done
      • Name aspects of God’s character (love, grace, etc.)
    • What are you thankful for?
      • Family, friends, food, etc.
  • Lettuce: Confession
    • What sin do you need to confess to Jesus?
    • Be specific – learn to name specific sins
    • And be thankful because he promises to always forgive you (see 1 John 1:9)
  • Cheese: Intercession
    • Praying for others
    • Who can you pray for?
    • Your parents, brothers and sisters, friends, etc.
  • Tomato: Petition
    • Praying for yourself
    • What do you want to ask God for?
    • It’s not wrong to ask God for things, we just don’t want that to be the only thing that prayer is about
  • Bottom bun: Closing of the prayer
    • How we end our prayer
    • How do you normally end your prayers?
    • In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Interact: Here’s a great family activity for the beginning of summer. Grill out hamburgers for dinner this week. As you eat, talk about how hamburgers teach us the various aspects of prayer… and then spend a few minutes prayer as a family.

Discipling your children, Part 2

When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the LORD our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. And the LORD showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers. And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us’” (Deuteronomy 6:20-25).

In yesterday’s post, in response to a question from a friend, I offered a couple of ideas that my wife and I are using to deliberately train our kids in the love and admonition of the Lord. In addition to the couple of thoughts I put forward yesterday, let me offer just a couple more. As a reminder from the previous post, I would be remiss not to mention that I make a lot of mistakes in my parenting and so I do not take it lightly to offer recommendations. But my wife and I do deeply want to be intentional about how we disciple our children as we believe that to be our most important role in all of life. May you be similarly encouraged by these ideas. And hey, if you have other ideas on how you are discipling your children, please share them with me.

  • Ask about what they are learning in church: It’s real easy to go to church, drop off your children in the nursery/children’s area, pick them up when the service is over and go home. That ride home or lunch on Sunday after church provides great opportunity for conversation with your children. Ask them what they learned about. Ask to see the sheet they brought home (many churches send their kids, especially the younger ones, home with a worksheet of some sort that recaps the lesson). Quickly read over the sheet and talk about it. This will help reinforce what they are learning in Sunday School.
  • Family worship:This might be the most intimidating idea to many people. They say, “Steve, you’re a pastor, of course you know how to lead family worship.” Ok, I’ll say this once: I’m making much of this up as I go! Nowhere in seminary did we talk about leading devotions with 2 and 3 year olds. But at the same time, it doesn’t have to be very complicated. Sing a couple of songs – Deep and Wide is a favorite in our family – and then read a story from a kid-friendly Bible. We’ve been using the My First Hands-On Bible, perfect for pre-schoolers. Orange 252, a popular children’s ministry curriculum, even has an app available for both iOS and Android that offers videos, activities and discussion starter questions for parents to use with their children.
  • Apologize to them: This is a big one. It’s not really a tactic or technique, but few things will leave a larger imprint on your children’s life than if you model a willingness to apologize when you mess up. If I raise my voice unnecessarily, if I say something mean, whatever it is, I go to my children and ask them to forgive me.
  • Love your spouse well: The best way for me to care for my children is to love my wife well. In fact, we often remind our children that “Mommy and Daddy are on the same team. You can be on the team with us, but you can’t split us.” Paul (in Ephesians 5) compares marriage between a man and a woman to the love of Christ for his church. Therefore, when my children see me love my wife well, they get a taste (however small and imperfect) of just how much Christ loves his church. That is, undoubtedly, a wonderful discipling lesson for them to learn.
  • Jesus loves you more: This may be one the “crazy” things I do with my children. At every possible opportunity, I tell my kids I love them. Hopefully, that’s not too crazy, but this part is. I then go on to tell that that as much as I love them, Jesus loves them more. Jesus loves my son more than I do. Jesus loves my daughter more than I do. And I tell them that. I always want their identify to be rooted in the love of Jesus who made them and who died for them and who is calling them to be his own.

Discipling my children is the most important job I have. But that last point is important. Jesus loves them even more than I ever could. As Scripture teaches, I can only love because he loved first. Even when parenting gets tough and discipling your children seems impossible, find hope in that Jesus loves your children and he is pursuing them, calling them to himself. May it never be a pressure issue of “I have to get my kids to believe the right things,” but always a privilege that Creator God would be pleased to use us in calling these wonderful kids to himself.

Discipling your children, your most important job

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deuteronomy 6:4-7).

A few days ago, I received a message from a friend stating he wanted to be deliberate about starting to teach his daughter basic Bible truths and what it means to love the Lord. He then asked for any suggestions or recommendations I might have. However, before I get to those recommendations, let me make two initial comments:

  • I heartily commend my friend for his desire to be intentional with his daughter. More than anything about my parenting, I want it to be said that I was intentional about how I raised my children to love the Lord. I appreciate his longing for the same.
  • To offer insight into parenting is a dangerous task indeed. My children are 3 and 2, with another due in October. It would be both arrogant and outright foolish for me to say that I’ve got this figured out. So while I do want to be intentional with my children, we’re trying to figure out our way as we go.

That said, I do earnestly believe that discipling my children is my most important job. And further, I would say the same to any other parent as well. Raising godly children will not be easy. The road won’t always be clear. But, as Deuteronomy 6 states, we are to be diligent in teaching our children to love the Lord. There is nothing more important that I will do in all of my life than to parent these children whom God has formed in his own image and has entrusted to my wife and I. So, here are some of the strategies that I (we) are using to disciple our children, along with links as appropriate:

  • Kids First Catechism: A catechism is just a series of questions and answers designed to teach. The Kids First Catechism has been a real gift to our children. Starting with “Who made you?” the catechism, in short bits, teaches incredible foundational doctrine. For our family, we just ask the kids, “Hey, can we do your questions?” Especially at bedtime, I sit them on my lap, and I ask them the questions. We review the past questions they have learned and then, when I feel they are ready, teach them a new question. We started on this with my son at 18 months old.
    • The Kids First Catechism is available both online or in a booklet. We use the booklet and keep it by the kids beds.
  • Teach them to serve: We ask a lot of our kids. In fact, we just returned from a two week missions trip in New Orleans where they picked up trash, painted, washed people’s feet and more. In addition, they have been Salvation Army bell ringers at Christmas and much more. We want our kids to know that to be a part of our family is to serve. So, we teach them to serve and we provide opportunities for them to do so.
  • Pray with and for them: We pray with and for our children, and not just at meal times. They say bedtime prayers. Whenever we see an ambulance we pray for the people the ambulance is helping. We pray. Let me briefly elaborate on prayer just a little further…
    • Pray during discipline: Every time I discipline my children, I end the discipline by taking them into my arms and have them pray and ask God for forgiveness. Then, I look them in the eye and say, “Daddy loves you and Daddy forgives you. Jesus loves you and Jesus forgives you. It’s all done.” Really a beautiful moment with my kids to declare God’s forgiveness to them.
    • Pray for their salvation: My prayer for my children is simple. I pray that they never know a day apart from Jesus. I pray that Jesus would call them to himself and that they would always know that they are his children.
    • Pray for my own sanctification: Kids want to be like their parents. Sounds obvious, but is very true. My son wants to wear the same shirts as me, sit in a chair like I do, root for the same teams as I do (that’s very important in parenting!) and more. He wants to be like me. If that is true, then I want to be the man that I want him to become. So I pray that God would be sanctifying me, teaching me to love and obey Him more, making me into His image.

Discipling my children is the most important job I will ever do. It is the most important job you will ever do. Here are a few of the things we are doing toward that end with our children, with a few more thoughts coming tomorrow. I pray that my attempts to disciple my kids will be an encouragement to you as you do the same.

Interact: How are you discipling your children? Do you have some ideas to share?