When you go on vacation, do your prayers take a hike?
I had been looking forward to our July vacation since mid-January. And I am not exaggerating. Not at all! Once Christmas and New Year festivities are a blurred memory whose only reference is the extra pounds on the scale, winter routine sets in, and visions of sun, sand, and waves are essential weapons to fight the winter blues.
But vacation plans can present their own set of challenges. A consensus among family members has to be reached. Various alliances are formed, treacherous behavior is to be expected, “mom is right, we should go to Europe this year,” says the conniving child while winking at his father. We negotiated bargains, treaties are signed “You may have 3 consecutive Pizza nights preceding and following the vacation should we go to Cuba instead of Disney”. The process is lengthy, the decisions are many and the words ‘Vacation Plans’ are added to the Family’s daily prayer list.
But we are already in March and the vacation plans have not yet been completed as various family members have yet to be consulted (cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents) and confirm whether or not they will join us.
So for now, the Family’s Daily Prayer refers to vacation plans as a concept and we pray to be guided in our decision. As this is the only time the family will spend together, throughout the year, and there are financial ramifications to the decision, we need all the wisdom in the world to pick a destination that will be safe but fun, different, and exotic (hopefully without exotic animals, aka poisonous snakes), with reliable healthcare facilities and a stable government, where the children will be entertained and the food will be more than just palpable. As you can see, there is a lot to pray about during the Family’s daily prayer.
Fast Forward to a few weeks before the vacation, it is now time for the count-down to begin, for the ‘packing lists’ to be written (google searches help compile data on ‘what you absolutely need to survive a family vacation with young ones’) and the suitcases have been dragged up from the basement (or the shed or garage or wherever they languish in wait throughout the year till their moment of glory when they are treated liked guests of honor) and flung open wherever the kids have not built forts (Yes, the Kitchen may be the only room available, no shame in admitting that) and slowly filled as the hours move closer to the first day of Vacation. Up to and including that day, the Family’s Daily Prayer is going strong.
We have been praying about finding the best, most affordable, fun but safe family vacation that has fulfilled everyone’s requests/demands/expectations. We also prayed about the weather, the accommodations, the food (this family takes food rather seriously), and the flight there and back.
We added prayers about family relationships, that this vacation might strengthen them and provide opportunities to grow stronger as a family. We have prayed before leaving the house (that we may return safely to our home), before boarding the plane and on the plane (hey, flying still mystifies me- one long metal tube dashing through the sky at 33 000 miles altitude is not my idea of Serenity 101).
And then we arrive at our destination. A beach destination. We sigh in relief. It is as picture-perfect as we had hoped and dreamed and prayed.
Once the little (and big) toes hit the sand; the Family’s Daily Prayer also goes on vacation.
Why is that?
Vacation is a break from routine, labor, timetables, appointments, tasks, chores, and repetition.
Is that how we view prayer as a family? A chore? A repetition?
Is it simply part of our routine, or is it a sustaining life force?
Is it simply a ‘task’ on our ‘to-do list’ or necessity without which we falter?
Do we do it so our children might learn to pray or because we can’t live without communicating with our Heavenly Father daily?
What does the Bible say about prayer?
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Ephesians 6:18)
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” (Colossians 4:2)
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20)
What do we infer from these verses? That Vacation time is one of the Best Times for the Family’s Daily Prayer!!
It is the opportunity to spend more time together, as a family in prayer, without having to rush out the door to work or school or camp or having to finish early so kids can go to sleep. It is the time when grandparents can join the prayer or older cousins can lead the family in Hymns when aunts and uncles can talk about their favorite Bible heroes.
Here are helpful ideas to maintain our prayer schedule during vacations
1- Let the young ones lead the family in prayers every morning.
2- Pick one Bible story to be read, in installments, during the vacation after lunchtime.
3- Sing one Hymn together before calling it a night and thank God for the beautiful day you got to spend as a family.
May you have a blessed vacation, loads of sunshine and laughter, and mighty waves!
Other articles you might enjoy: Teaching children about gratitude
Recommended Children’s Book on this topic: Philo, Rose and the Joy SuperHoly
Additional Coptic resources on this topic: How should I pray
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