Prayer plays a big, no HUGE role in my life and I encourage this in my children as well through example and participation with them. Most recently, we've adopted a new-to-us, almost-every-night-ritual. It involves gathering together on my bed (which everyone seems to believe is 'community property'!), looking for a couple favorite worship songs on youtube to sing along with and then praying.
Although I do encourage my children not to hold back and to be honest in their prayers and conversation with God--I also aim to teach them how to pray as well. I've intentionally been leading them through a process of what to do and how to pray when you don't feel like it and when your faith is low or you feel discouraged.
Initially, I acknowledged their disappointment, discouragement and resistance. I offered them a 'pass' option. I know they are working out great big questions in their tender little hearts. However, as a mature Christian and their mother, I don't want to just leave them there.
After a day or two, I encouraged them to simply offer prayers of thanksgiving. No petitions (their little hearts were knotted with discouragement, feeling like their petitions were pointless and not being answered), simply thanks, as much or as little as they wanted and could think of. This offered them a 'safe' opportunity to renew their fellowship and conversation with Christ, with out expectation.
Another night, after one attempted 'pass' which redirected to prayers of thanks, one child continued to *pester* me for something. This incessant requesting had been going on for a few hours. I continuously denied the request and thought the matter was settled. After we had finished praying, it began again.
Initially, I felt annoyed, then it was one of those light bulb moments of wisdom and clarity that you just know God is giving you.
"You know how you keep asking me for this..." I ventured.
Yah...never mind, I'm sorry," the child put their head down sheepishly, expecting rebuke.
"Well, you're hoping I'll change my mind, right?"
"Why is it you will keep pestering me for something I've already told you NO for, but you'll give up on God and quit asking Him just because He's not answering in your time frame or how you want, right now?"
The child was caught-and they knew it.
Deer in the head lights look as the point registered in their brain...then a big, comfortable grin.
It made sense. I didn't have to read a parable to get the point across. This was a child-size version of the same thing.
Luke 18 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
We do that don't we? Sometimes we begin to feel discouraged, doubt God hears or is even listening. Maybe we even become angry--if we're being honest--so we choose to give God the 'silent treatment'. It's not the best way to handle our disappointment is it? It's usually based on UNtruth anyway, again if we're being honest. Because truth tells us that God hears all of our prayers and he desires what is best and most beneficial for us--whether that is what we are asking for or not.
Mothers, and fathers, don't forget or neglect the influence you have on your children. Be gentle with their hurting hearts, but don't leave them there. Guide and direct them on how to push through the hurts and disappointments. Remind them how God always hears and is always there and always available. They need that reassurance that they are loved and not forsaken when they are hurting. Why do you think God repeats it so many times in the Bible, Himself?
There are no wasted moments, even the ones that seem insignificant.