~Colossians 4:2 (NIrV)~
Up until a few months ago, my little guy, Hayden, tended to shy away from prayer. My husband and I would often ask him at dinnertime if he’d like to say the blessing. Every time, he’d say “no thank you,” and would point to either my husband or me to say the prayer. Later at bedtime, I’d ask if he’d like to pray. Once again, he’d shake his head and ask me to do it.
A few weeks after he started Kindergarten, it was his turn to bring the snack for his classmates. Having volunteered in his classroom a couple of times, I knew his teacher would ask him to say the blessing over the snack. I wondered how he would respond to her request. I prayed for him that morning, that he’d be willing to step up and say the prayer.
When I picked him up from school later that morning, he eagerly told me about snacktime and how he prayed over the food.
In the days that followed, I watched his confidence with praying blossom. When asked to pray at dinnertime, he’d reach for my hand and his dad’s and lead us in a simple yet heartfelt prayer for our family, our dog, and the food.
Some of his prayers during this time were sweet and innocent. One night at dinner, he prayed, “Let Bogie (our dog) have a lot of treats and be happy.” Other prayers brought tears to my eyes. About a month after my dad (Hayden’s Papa Jack) passed away, Hayden prayed, “Help Papa have fun in heaven.”
In the months since that first prayer at snacktime, Hayden and I have prayed together often–over meals, for family and friends in need, on our way to school, and when he’s afraid. I’m discovering that these moments I spend with him in prayer are not only building his faith but mine as well. In all of this, I’m learning what it means to have childlike faith, especially when we pray to God.
Here are some ideas of how you as moms (and any dads out there) can encourage and teach your children to pray.
- Regularly ask your child if he or she would like to say a prayer at mealtime or at bedtime. Don’t be discouraged if your child turns down the opportunity to pray. It may take some time for your child to feel comfortable with praying. In the meantime, step in and lead your child in prayer.
- Make a prayer tree with your child. My son and I recently made the prayer trees below. I plan to put Hayden’s tree next to his bed so we can pray for those on his tree each night. To make the prayers trees, I found a tree template online and traced it onto patterned scrapbook paper. We then glued our trees to a 12 x 12 scrapbook page, glued leaf cutouts onto the branches, and jotted down the names of those we want to pray for.
- Start a prayer journal with your family. Choose a time each day or week to write down the people your family would like to pray for. Jot down all answered prayers and take time to thank God for those answered prayers.
- Read about characters in the Bible who had powerful prayer lives. Some examples include: Hannah (1 Samuel), Nehemiah, David (Book of Psalms), and of course, Jesus (i.e., Matthew 6:5-14, John 17).
- Go on a short “prayer” walk with your child in your neighborhood. Take this time to pray for your neighbors.
- Pray for the world. As a family, take time each day to pray for one country in our world. My family and I recently began our journey to pray for the world for 235 days. For more information, click on the following link: Around the World in 235 days. You can join us on that journey at any time.