We have family prayer time each night before bed, and like everything else, my kids have to try and turn it into a competition. The first issue we ran into was who was going to pray in what order. They created unofficial rules. The same person can't be first twice. You can't keep picking the same person to go last every night. JD thrives on patterns and order, so he would have some idea of how he thought the order should go, which was often a bad thing if he wasn't doing the picking. Finally the parents had to step in and create actual rules. If you get picked last tonight, you go first tomorrow. We will go in age order from youngest to oldest in a loop. I can not believe I have had to make up rules so that we could pray peacefully.
It was at this point that I started questioning if the kids were taking prayer time seriously. We all had a good long talk about how it was talking with God and a special time. I decided that they had become too repetitive as well and required them to add one thing different each night. It could be something they were thankful for, a friend in need, or a personal request. I wasn't picky, I just wanted them to really think through their prayers. That started out as a great success. I was all ready to congratulate myself on a stroke of genius when JD ended his prayer, "Amen. Ha! I got 3 extras. Top that!" After which Nix proceeded to add 5 things to hers. On the one hand, they were thinking through things and really had nice long prayers, but on the other prayer is not a competition! Time for yet another talk.
We've been on a good run lately with the exception of the night Nix prayed for rain and JD prayed for no rain. That night added the no contradicting each other clause. I'm starting to really understand how the Jewish law grew from 10 simple commandments into the rather lengthy combination of Levitical law, Mosaic law, and tradition. Maybe those children of Israel were just as competitive with each other as the children of our house.
One kind of cool thing has come of this though. Being picked last at prayer time is a place of honor in our house. So, if you are a guest and are picked last to pray it means that the kids want you back tomorrow so that you can lead prayer time, and choose the order. JD has tried to use this as a tactic to get grandparents to stay an extra day.