Monday, June 4, 2012

A Few Simple ways to Teach your Children to have a Heart of Prayer

Most Christians will admit the importance of prayer in their lives, whether they practice the discipline or not. Christian parents will agree they want their children to pray regularly as well. The most common prayer times would be around shared meals in the form of saying grace, at least. I wonder how often that really happens these days as even in our own home, we don't eat around a common table very often anymore. For one reason, we don't all fit around the table! Also, we are often eating meals at various times.

Another common time to pray with children is before bed, am I right? I used to do this too and then the Mr. took over the bedtime ritual. Nighttime prayers, said together, hardly ever happen these days. However, if you don't pray at these traditional times you can still utilize other times of the day.

What I have found works is emphasizing to my kiddos that prayer can be anytime. I believe God meant it when he wrote and instructed us to, "Pray without ceasing." 1 Thess 5:17KJV. Therefore what I am nurturing in my own children is an attitude of prayer that is not restricted to specific times. For example, we spend a lot of time praying in the car. Nearly an hour when I am driving oldest to work. We pray all the way there and all the way back.

Another thing we do is pray for specific people using reminders. Such as, when we see a specific car of someone we know, we say a simple prayer for that person,! This is our prayer: "Dear Lord, bless _______ & may he/she be the man/woman of God you have created them to be." Often we've been on a drive and seen a specific car, one right after another. That person is having prayers for blessings prayed for them sometimes 10 times in a drive!!!

I also encourage them to pray for *everything* they think of. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.   Eph 6:18 NIV. I believe and want to encourage within them, an attitude of prayer that goes to God for everything and in every situation. I want praying to be second nature for them. A habit they think of to do *first*, not as a last resort when they are desperate. I want them to be comfortable approaching their Holy Father with every concern of their heart.

It's never too early (or late!)  and they are never too young, to begin teaching your children to pray. Even my 3yo has simple 2 sentence prayers he prays.

Another thing we do is to pray scripture. We recite God's promises to us in our prayers and pray they will come to pass in our lives. We quote scripture to reinforce God's word within our hearts and souls. We often repeat actual scriptures of God's promises and instructions to us.

I encourage them to pray with thanksgiving when they are happy and also when they are sad...even if they are angry or upset. I want my children to view God as approachable--in whatever state they may be in. I want them to know that He will *never* reject them when they come to him.  Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matt 19:14

When my children are emotionally upset or disturbed, I pray over them. If they are being ornery, I pray over them. Even the 3yo, if he is being extra mischievous or out of sorts, I will get down to his level, ask him to look at me and say a one sentence prayer to calm his spirit and while still making eye contact-tell him he is loved. It is *amazing* how this affects him positively. His entire demeanor and attitude changes.

Yes, being an example is also important. However, most of my deep prayer times are alone in my room, mornings before I even get out of bed & at night before I go to sleep. My children wouldn't really know that I do that. BUT praying WITH them, is much more effective, I think.

Prayers don't need to be elaborate to be effective. Talking aloud with God, in front of your children will suffice. Ask them to agree with you within their hearts. Their hearts and souls will be affected, whether they realize it or not. 

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