For years, I’d heard of prayer boxes, and I knew what they were for. They’re either keeping places for favorite scriptures, or they’re similar to a prayer journal, only more flexible. Any scrap of paper will do, anywhere, any time of the day or night. The important part, in a world of fractured thoughts, hurried moments, and scattershot prayers, is to take the time to think through, to write down, to clarify in your own mind the things you’re asking for, the things you’re grateful for, the things you’re troubled about, the hopes you’ve been nurturing.
Put them in the box and…
Let. Them. Go.
That’s what trust is. It’s letting go of the worry. It’s the way of peace and also the way of God.
Closing the lid on a prayer box is so beautifully symbolic of so many things, that I’m surprised we don’t use them more often. Prayer boxes have a long-standing tradition, both among early Christians and among Jewish families. Jews and early Christians often wore small leather or carved bone boxes on the body. These phylacteries or tefillin were a means of keeping scripture close to the wearer. Large boxes, called mezusah cases are still affixed to the doorposts of Jewish homes today.
It’s a beautiful tradition, when you think about it, to surround our coming in and going out with a brush with God. It’s also a reminder, as family members pass by, to pray and to trust that our prayers are being heard. That’s one of my favorite reasons for keeping a prayer box inside the home as well, or for giving one as a gift. When you see the box, you’re reminded that things are supposed to go in it. In other words, the prayer box isn’t meant to gather dust; it’s meant to inspire a habit. That’s the real idea behind making a prayer box attractive.
I hope the information below will help you start off on your prayer boxing journey. What better way to bind a family, help a friend struggle through an illness, help a just-married couple start off right, celebrate a tiny new life just born, send a graduate off into the world, form connections with church family, than to share a prayer box with an explanation of what it’s for?
Creating Prayer Boxes for Families
1. The Family Box. Want to increase family unity and communication? Having trouble talking to your kids about difficult subjects? Wondering if there are things they are worried about, but not talking about? Want to create an environment of teamwork, support, and prayer in your house? Get the family together to build a family prayer box. Keep your box in an accessible place, with slips of paper nearby. Decide how, when, and whether prayers will be shared out loud, and how often. At the dinner table? In the last few minutes before bed? During a few quiet minutes reserved amid the morning rush? Even in the car on the way to school. Let your kids know that every request doesn’t have to be spelled out. Even unspoken requests can be prayed for. They know and God knows. Sometimes, just realizing that a family member is struggling is enough to build empathy and unity.
2. The Transitions Box. Going through a difficult transition within your family? A family move? The step from middle school to high school, or high school to college? A divorce? An emptying nest? Create a box specifically for family members to share their feelings about these events and turn the uncertainties about the future over to God’s hands. Pray for all aspects of the transition and all who are involved. It will help to create a climate of solidarity and caring for one another as “we” see this through.
3. The Forgiveness Box. Are old hurts festering beneath the surface within your family? Why not use a prayer box as a place for giving those feelings over to God and letting them go? Put a slot in the lid, and glue, tape, or seal it securely so that family members will feel safe in writing down their feelings. Jealousies, competitiveness, and old wounds might have affected the past, but they don’t have to affect the future. Plan to turn these negative feelings into ashes at a time when all of you can pray together and watch the issues go up in smoke. Encourage family members to realize that love can be a fire more potent than hate and selfishness. As you watch the fire, talk about the issues discussed in the box, the attitudes that need to change, the effects of careless words or selfish behaviors. Ask each family member to pray for forgiveness for poor choices of the past and a changed heart toward the future. Take a poll on whether the issues are resolved or whether a new box should be started.
Wriiten by Lisa Wingate. (http://theuntoldstory.guru/2014/08/25-ways-to-use-prayer-boxes/)