Heather from Not a DIY Life is guest posting for us today! She is a long time reader, commenter and tweeter of Impress your Kids. But more importantly she is a wonderful mama raising her daughter for the Lord. Heather blogs at Not a DIY Life and believes that life is not meant to be a Do-It-Yourself project . Please follower her on twitter and read her daily updates about her life and daughter. You will be encouraged!
Father, we thank You for the night,
And for the pleasant morning light.
For rest and food and loving care
For friends who make the day so fair.
One of many familiar prayers that we can teach our children. But how do we teach them that prayer is more than reciting a cute rhyme before meals and at bedtime? (There is nothing wrong with memorizing and reciting rhyming prayers, and we will be teaching our daughter The Lord’s Prayer because we say that prayer at church.) How do we teach our children to communicate authentically with our Heavenly Father?
Prayer at its core is conversation with God. Conversation includes both talking and listening. Since our daughter, Ladybug is 28 months, I really don’t expect her to understand the listening part of prayer yet. But we are enjoying the talking part of prayer together.
Our first step in teaching Ladybug to pray was to include prayer as part of our bedtime routine. Kids thrive on routine. We keep the bedtime prayer simple, using words that she will understand without “talking down” to God.
Our bedtime prayer includes holding hands, bowing our heads, and closing our eyes. She knows that is the posture for prayer. So anytime we say, “It’s time to pray,” whether at mealtimes or in church, she knows to be quiet, hold hands, and bow her head.
We include people that Ladybug knows in our bedtime prayers as well. She recognizes the names and will repeat them. And if we leave someone off the list, she reminds us, “Pray Baby Erin, Mama.”
Because we acknowledge what she says during prayer time, she is learning that she can participate in prayer and that prayer is not only for someone special like our pastor, but for everyone.
We usually pray together at mealtimes as well. For our family of three, that is the norm. But in some in our extended family do not have this practice. Because family members know that we pray, there is sometimes an awkward moment or two when gathered for a family meal. Ladybug has broken that awkwardness many times, with her cute toddler voice saying, “Pray, Mama, pray, Daddy.” What doting aunt or uncle can continue to feel uncomfortable when their adorable niece is asking us to pray? Ladybug is learning, through the practice of prayer, that it is important to share our faith with others. (And it makes this Mama want to cry tears of joy when she does that!)
Although we are firm that we pray together at mealtimes and bedtimes, Ladybug does catch us off guard and ask to pray at other times. And of course, we stop what we are doing and pray! Even if it’s the third time in a row, stopping to pray teaches her that God is available anytime.
When she sees either myself or Hubby in our prayer posture (head bowed, eyes closed), she knows that we are praying and asks to be included. She is learning so much by observing our practice of prayer! I feel that including Ladybug in our prayer times and allowing her to observe our prayer life is one of the most valuable ways that she can learn.
How are you teaching your child to pray?