When I was growing up, prayer was a big deal in my family. It was part of our everyday lives. I was a preacher’s kid at a small Spanish church, and my parents often invited my siblings and me to join them as they prayed for others in our congregation. I can remember feeling anxious at times when my parents told us we were headed to a family’s home to pray for them in person. Although it was initially uncomfortable, this act of service taught me a valuable life lesson. I began to realize that the physical act of “showing up” for someone and praying in person was incredibly significant. Even though I was young, I understood the power of prayer, and saw first-hand how those we went to visit expressed joy, hope, and fellowship as we prayed with them. Many people said this physical act of visiting them for prayer made them feel loved, respected, and cared for as part of a larger spiritual family.

Now that I have become a parent with my own small children, I find myself searching for creative ways to make prayer significant for them. I long to see our family pray together and help our children understand the importance of praying for others. My parents instilled the tradition in me, and I want to intentionally create space for prayer in our family so our children can one day pass it on to the next generation. How incredible it would be to know that we are leaving a legacy of prayer!

The idea of “Surprise Ride Prayers” comes from the same concept as prayer walks. To go on a “Surprise Ride,” just hop in the car and drive somewhere. Then, as a family, take turns praying for people at that location. Some ideas could include driving to your kids’ school, parking in the parking lot, and simply praying for your children’s principal, teachers, and friends. Or perhaps you can drive to a local hospital and pray for the patients, doctors, nurses, and families inside. You can even include not-so-obvious locations like an animal shelter, or even a grocery store. As parents, we can guide our children in their prayers, or have them offer up prayers in their own words for the specific people at these locations. Mix it up, make it fun, and perhaps even let your kids “surprise” you with a location of their choice!

What an amazing opportunity we have as parents to see our children’s hearts begin to soften toward the needs of others. Others-focused prayers can cultivate an understanding of intercession in our children. I wonder where your family’s “Surprise Ride Prayers” will lead you?