A great deal of life happens around the family table. In our household, the family table serves many purposes. For one, we learn around the table. We read history lessons aloud, work through math problems, and write paragraphs. We share daily meals and celebrate special occasions. Especially during the cold winter months we play board games, work puzzles, paint, and craft things with glue and construction paper. Our table has also many times been a place of hospitality where we have welcomed friends and family to gather. How grateful I am for all of this activity around our table and the fellowship that has taken place! I will tell you it is certainly worn and smeared with paint and glue, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
To me the family table represents something very stable, solid, predictable, and unchanging. I recall the kitchen table being one of the largest pieces of furniture to be carried in when we moved into our home a few years ago. It needed to be maneuvered in just the right way to fit into the door. Once in the door, there was really only one place suitable for the table: our kitchen. It fit just perfectly. Our table will not be one of those mobile pieces of furniture that we move around at Christmastime to make room for the Christmas tree. It will most likely stay put. Over the years, the routines of activities like meals, conversation, prayer, and sharing God’s Word together have become just as stable and solid as the table itself.
Most days, no matter what the day brings, there is dinner around the table. Depending upon the schedule of the day, one of our girls can usually be found chopping, stirring, mixing, or setting the table. Dinner is sometimes as simple as a grilled cheese sandwich, and the dinner hour in our home is certainly not the picture of perfection. However, the point is not perfection, but that we are together. We are preparing and sharing a meal and, therefore, creating an open space for fellowship with one another. This can be a very beautiful thing at the end of a busy day. Something as simple as dinner can bring so much comfort.
Honestly, our prayers around the table are usually pretty brief, mostly because those sitting around the table are sometimes grumpy and hungry. Really, it’s true! Most of the prayer that we do together as a family actually takes place at bedtime. The entire family, including our sweet dog, piles up on someone’s bed and we pray before we all get tucked in for the night. This is just naturally how it happens. It works for us. We have a particular prayer that we lift up together, which the girls now have memorized. It’s an articulate little prayer containing the words “vesper light”; it’s so lovely. There is something so beautiful about saying those words together in harmony to God. After we say our prayer we remember those in need, our family near and far, and any other needs of which we have become aware. Within this routine somewhere Dad will usually read Scripture to us. This routine usually brings much peace and calm and it is very much depended upon by all of us.
Some days can be overwhelming and crazy. I believe it brings a bit of stability and grounding to our family if we have something within our lives that we can depend on, something solid and unchanging. This is, of course, not just something that we create within our homes. God’s steadfast love is a gift to us. His promises are true. We have the opportunity each day to present God’s promises to our families through prayer, Scripture, and just being together. In our ever-changing world, may God give us the wisdom, strength, courage, and patience to present His never-ending, never-changing love to our families. Gathering around the family table is a lovely place to start.
Would you like help in getting started with family prayer? In their new book Field Guide for Family Prayer, Kay and Winfield Bevins share simple prayers for all occasions. It is a field guide that offers prayers for everyday, ordinary families. It was written as a simple guide containing tools for prayer and encouragement to find moments throughout the day to pray together as a family. These prayers have been tested in homes, around family tables, in living rooms, and in the evenings in children’s rooms as we gather together. Get your copy from our store here.