Growing up, I learned many of the basic standard Christian prayers to be said before meals and before bedtime. While I said these prayers daily, they did not help me to truly understand the nature or value of prayer as a two-way communication with the Lord. As an adult with children, I have sought to not only learn more about prayer myself, but also to help my children develop a deeper connection to God through daily prayer.
Prayer can be defined as talking with God. Prayer can be used to give thanks to God, to ask something of God or even to simply express our concerns, emotions or thoughts with God. Those that seek God believe that God seeks an active communication with us and prayer is the means of entering into that two-way communication with God.
As we are born of God and created in His own image, it would seem that prayer would almost be an innate ability that we share as children of God. I believe, instead, that we need to practice and exercise our prayer abilities, just as we train our bodies to run marathons or other athletic endeavors, in order to fine tune that communication with God the Father.
The world in which we exist is so hectic and fast paced that our focus is constantly challenged. This is particularly difficult for children who truly need to learn focus and discipline not only to succeed in their schooling but to provide them with a framework that will help them be successful in their adult lives. Prayer can instantly refocus our thoughts and attention and allow us to begin the moment at hand with a fresh sense of purpose and meaning.
How, then, can we instill a love of prayer in our children? With prayer, practice does make us more comfortable with talking to God and also helps us in our ability to listen for God’s answers. This discernment can only come from daily communication with God in prayer. I have found prayer is best taught to children with a combination of memorized, formal prayers and conversational prayer.
Prayers for Children Tip #1 – Start Your Morning Right with Prayer
As your family gathers in the kitchen having a quick breakfast before heading out to face the world, ask your children what is on their agenda for the day. Do they have a spelling test, a football game or a problem with a friend that needs to be ironed out? After listening to everyone’s answers, offer a simple prayer as a family to God, first giving thanks for another day and asking for his guidance in all issues that arise during the day. Be specific in mentioning all items discussed by your family this morning.
Prayers for Children Tip #2 – The Traveling Prayer for a Safe Journey
As parents, it seems we spend half of our time driving the kids from one place to another. Once you get the children in the car and buckled up, say a quick prayer to God for a safe journey and for the safety of all others traveling this day.
Prayers for Children Tip #3 – The Traveling Prayer for Friends and Family Members
If you have a distance to go, turn off the radio and focus your thoughts on those you love who might be in need of your prayers. Every day, my husband prays on his drive to work by going through his entire list of family and friends. Doing this with your children is a great way to teach them that prayer isn’t just about asking God for what they want or need. Prayer helps children learn to be more selfless by helping them to focus on others.
Prayers for Children Tip #4 – The Traveling Graveyard Prayer
Catholics and many other faiths have special prayers for those that have died. Not being raised Catholic; this concept was new to me. Whenever we pass a cemetery, we say the following prayer:
“Grant unto them eternal rest, O Lord, and May your perpetual light forever shine upon them. May their souls and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the Mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.”
This prayer also offers the perfect time to discuss and remember anyone you and your family have loved and lost. This helps children to understand that even though loved ones have departed their earthly life, their souls continue to exist with God, who loves all of us eternally.
Prayers for Children Tip #5 – Prayer before Meals
Prayers before meals can be simple recited prayers or a combination of recited, memorized prayer and personal prayers of thanksgiving. At our table, each person takes a turn on different days to lead prayer before meals. There are many traditional prayers before meals that can be used. When our son, whose speech is made difficult due to Cerebral Palsy, takes his turn, he offers this simple prayer, “God is neat, let us eat. Amen.” This is a perfect prayer for even small children and gives every family member a special turn leading prayers.
Prayers for Children Tip #6 – Prayer before Bedtime
The end of the day is the perfect time for parents and children can take stock of their day and all things that happened, good and bad. Bedtime prayers can provide great discussions between parents and their children and parents might find their children broach topics that may not have arisen, were it not for the occasion of considering needed prayers. We usually end our day with The Lord’s Prayer and the Hail Mary prayer. After this, we each share things that occurred that day that we are grateful for, friends and family that might need extra prayers, as well as prayers for help from our Lord.
Prayers for Children Tip #7 – the Good-Bye Prayer
A good friend of mine shared with me a prayer that every time she leaves her children she prays with them, “May the Lord Bless you and keep you safe while we are apart. Amen.” This lets your child know that you trust the Lord to watch over them, even when you are not together.
With a little extra focus on God, daily prayers for children can become a part of any family’s routine. These ideas are easy to do every single day and with practice, children will begin to embrace the concept of conversing with God just as naturally as they converse with their other trusted friends. These daily prayers, or conversations with God, will lead children to a deeper relationship with God. They just might help parents to begin a more meaningful prayer life with God as well.
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Source: Personal Experience