Last week I talked about our early steps at teaching our children to love God and passing on our faith. This continues to be a topic about which I am quite passionate.
As I recall, the next significant step came after they learned to talk. I think my son was about 3 years old when we began teaching him to pray a very simple prayer before bedtime. Of course, he already knew that we prayed before meals. But, this was the first step for him developing independent prayer life.
We taught him to pray, "Dear God, Make me a Godly boy, a boy who loves Jesus more and more every day."
I can remember that the prayer morphed a bit over the first several months to a year. We were trying to figure out this prayer thing and what we wanted to teach him. I think at one time the prayer was, "Make me a Godly boy, a boy who knows more and more about Jesus every day." But we realized that knowledge of Jesus wasn't what we really wanted. It was relationship with Jesus that we wanted for our son. So we changed the words to "a boy who loves Jesus".
As he grew and matured we've added different elements to the prayer. There was one really funny period of time when we had to teach our daughter to say, "Make me a Godly girl" instead of "boy".
Since then, we've taught them to thank God for various things in their life. We try to steer them away from just thanking God for toys but, instead, thanking God for significant people in their lives - first grandparents, then they voluntarily added aunts, uncles & cousins. We added the various staff memebers of our church. They added friends and classmates. Occasionally they have to be reminded to thank God for their teachers, though usually they remember on their own.
More recently, we've begun teaching our son to ask God for help. When he went through a phase of being terrified of thunderstorms and loud rain storms, we taught him to ask God to give him courage and to help him sleep. Now, when he has difficulty with a friend we teach him to ask God to help him be kind. This new aspect of his prayers changes almost daily. And it is very personal and circumstance specific.
I am thoroughly enjoying watching their growth in this area. Their bedtime prayers have become unique to each one. We go through phases of "Mommy you pray, I'm too tired." And occasionally we give in, but generally they do it themselves.
This gradual method of teaching our children to pray has worked for us (so far). But, our children are still young and we realize there is much still to learn. We are not finished by any means - it is an ongoing process.
Recently I've been listening to some other parents going through this struggle of teaching Godly habits like prayer. So, now I'm curious... How do you teach your children to pray? How did you begin? Where are they now? How did it change over time?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Announcement: Next week's Works For Me Wednesday is themed - "Mom I'm Bored". If you've got a good summer fun idea or a good way to keep the kids busy, be sure to link up or leave a comment.