Yes, I Pray With Our Kids
In the moments following 9/11, there were numerous stories about how prayer was on an uptick. Those tragic events needed rationalization, and for most of us, there wasn’t much we could do except watch – and pray. It’s no wonder that many of us turned to a safe place where we could try to find peace and offer support for those who had suffered.
I’m not sure what’s happened in the 16 years since, but much like flag-waving, it seems as if we’ve gotten away from prayer that once absorbed us as a nation.
Praying with our children should be a priority in our lives. After all, if your child took part in some sort of Baptism or Christening, that wasn’t just a one-day-and-it’s-over event. Just like a wedding ceremony, it was merely the beginning of something.
Prayer = conversation. In its simplest form, prayer is a conversation with God. Kids need to know that they can talk to God, just like they can talk to mom and dad about anything. We like to do things and spend time with people we love, so if you want prayer to be a part of your kids’ lives, show them how important it is to you first.
K.I.S.S. When children are young, it’s not necessary to use long, memorized prayers (though, there’s nothing wrong with that). Keep it simple and ease kids into it. Modest thank-yous to God will certainly fit the bill.
No rules. As long as we’re talking about simplicity, it’s also important to note that there’s no right or wrong way to pray. Do it together. Do it silently or do it out loud. Read scripted prayer. Invoke your own impromptu prayers. Do it while walking. Sing your prayer. The important thing is that you’re in a conversation that also involves listening.
Copycats. Seeing mom and dad pray is one of the most effective ways to kickstart a child’s prayer life. When children see parents pray, they’ll copy it. Just like they imitate everything else you do. And let’s face it, there’s nothing quite as cute as seeing a tiny toddler folding hands and giving thanks for everything in their lives.
Before eating. Not sure where to start? One easy way is to pray is right before every meal. It keeps prayer top-of-mind all day long, rather than just a once a day. It also gives kids a chance to lead the prayer out loud. You might already pray at Thanksgiving or other special gatherings, so you might as well make it a regular thing.
Being thankful. When we start to think about others – whether it’s God, friends, or family – we start to move away from thinking only about ourselves. Offering our thoughts and hopes for someone else will keep our kids level-headed for the future, and focuses them on serving others.
While the thought of adding another thing to your busy day may not be what you need, you’ll probably find that prayer is just as essential as the food and sleep you need. You might soon realize that you and your children desperately need this quiet time every day – that alone makes it worth a try.