Our kiddos are now three, and one. Parker, the oldest, has been saying his prayers at bedtime for a year now, and has his bedtime prayer routine memorized. After we finish reading our books, he says his prayers:
“Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord, my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord, my soul to take.
I remember praying with him while he was in the NICU, just a tiny thing, so innocent and so very loved. Boy, has our boy sure grown. Both his daddy and I have began adding to our prayers, and asking Parker to thank God for whatever he feels he should. However, when it comes to really teaching our children to pray, it took me sitting down and putting my thoughts to pen and paper…good ol’ brainstorming!
The first and most important lesson seems to be obvious.
#1 Let them see you pray.
Just as anything else we wish to teach our children…they must see their parents involved and doing so in order to follow suit. I workout around my children for the very reason, I wish to get them involved, yes, but I also want them to see Mommy doing something positive and healthy.
This also means I get to better my relationship with God, as I tend to pray in my alone time, which also means not as often as I should.
#2 Give thanks.
I always want to instill a thankful character in my children. The first thing we always do when we pray is give thanks. We tell God thank you for our new home, and a healthy family. We thank God for Parker’s trucks, and for the sunshine outside. Sometimes what we are thankful for gets pretty wacky, because lets face it…toddlers have some crazy ideas!
#3 Find God’s blessings each day.
I suppose another way to include thanks, and involve God into our daily routine is to look for his beauty every day. Whether we are out for a walk, or going through a new learning experience, every blessing can lead to a prayer.
#4 Create a routine.
Routines work for our family. When it comes to napping and eating especially, we tend to stick to a routine. So why would praying be any different? We have already established a bedtime routine for prayers, now all we need to do is put into place a morning routine when we wake. I don’t think anything else set in stone will be beneficial to our family, mostly because I would like to also teach our children they are able to talk to God spontaneously throughout the day as well.
Growing up, Sunday dinners were always at the table, and we said a prayer. I would like to get to that point with our little family. Sundays may be the only evening we can come together and pray/eat because of work schedules, but that would be a start. Any special occasion meal I think it’s also important to include a prayer.
And last but not least…
#5 Teach why we pray.
For a toddler, there are so many unanswered questions, and all parents know all too well that most kids are going to go through the “why?” phase. Even though Parker hasn’t actually experienced this phase yet, and he may never, he has a very curious mind and asks a multitude of other questions already.
So why do I pray? Why should we pray?
My grandmother recently passed away, and Parker is at that age where he doesn’t quite understand what has happened, all he knows is Gramma Gramma isn’t at her house anymore. We have explained to him that she is with the angels in heaven, and we will see her again. We prayed for her before she passed, and after she passed. I tried my best to use prayer for Gramma as a way of teaching him to open up to God.
We pray to communicate with God.
We pray to fulfill our emotional needs during times of both highs and lows.
We pray because of love.
We pray because of hope.
We may pray because we wish to know our own hearts more fully.
We may pray to humble ourselves before God.
I know those are all reasons why I pray.
And if those answers do not suffice…
We pray because the bible and God’s word says to. We pray because Jesus did.