Just reading the title of this blog post is making you feel guilty, isn’t it. Because you’ve always thought you should be doing more when it comes to leading your child in praying….but somehow you sort of never had the courage to get around to doing it.
Well it’s never too late. Admit all of this to your child (whether pre-school or young adult) and jump on in.
First of all, I hate prayer formulas. They make me feel weary and even more guilty because I can’t follow them perfectly, and then I give up, and then I’m not praying at all. Do you know what I mean?
And again I say, it’s never too late. Admit all of this to God and jump on in.
Notice how I’ve changed the focus from teaching your child to pray to your own personal prayer life. Because it has to start with you. The best way to teach children to pray is to pray in their presence, using age appropriate words. Look for opportunities to practice praying in front of them, just as you would look for opportunities to teach them manners or sportsmanship.
You know, praying is just talking to God, telling Him what’s going on in your life and how you feel about it all. And you can do this any time, any place. A good time and place for me is in the car, driving to school in the morning. It’s just God and me...and I talk to Him...out loud.
It also helps me to write out my conversations with God...keep a journal of my thoughts and feelings. At times, when appropriate, you might share some things from your journal with your kids. Encourage them, if they are old enough, to write some of their thoughts and feelings down, maybe buying them a special notebook for them to journal in. Then, with your kids, have a conversation with God out loud (pray) about some of the things they are thankful for and some of the things that are bothering them.
Some kids will feel shy about praying out loud at first and will say they can’t think of anything to pray about. You can help your children begin to pray out loud by giving them a sentence to complete, such as:
“Lord, I thank You for…”
“Lord, forgive me for…”
“Lord, help my friend…”
“Lord, help me be more…”
“Lord, help me to love...”
“Lord, help me to be kind to...”
“Lord, give me the courage to…”
“Lord, one of the fears I need help with is…”
Here’s another idea to help your children get started talking to God: Have each family member take a portion of the newspaper and circle items that he feels need to be prayed for. Then ask each person to pray for the things he circled in the paper.
At bedtime, ask your child to share with you her “highs” and “lows” from the day. Then share your “highs” and “lows” from your day. Pray for them together.
It’s also good for our kids to see us pray spontaneously, such as praying for the people you see in an accident while driving in the car. Show them that you don’t have to close your eyes (especially while driving) to talk to God and that it doesn’t have to be planned.
Prayer is the language of the heart. It is our conversation with God, and for a conversation to be meaningful, both parties must be listening. “Prayer is what God does to us rather than anything we do to God.” And this is what we want to be a part of our children’s lives.