teaching your kids to pray

Do you ever have those moments when you wonder if you’re doing anything right?

All day I’ve struggled… My husband and I have been at odds, I’ve yelled at my kids, I’ve stressed about insignificant things.

As I’m tucking my girls into bed and explode one more time, my sweet Alyssa pulls me close and whispers in my ear, “Mom, can we pray? Just me and you?”  My instinct is “No! I just want you in BED so I can have some ALONE time!”  But, Jesus softened my heart and I realized, what am I teaching her if I say “no”?!  Selfishness.  So, I made the decision to say, “sure thing.”  I leaned in close, mostly annoyed that this was delaying the bedtime process.

She starts her prayer and whispers the most genuine, heartfelt words I’ve ever heard.

“God, help Mommy not to feel alone.  Help her not to stress and help her to know you love her.”

Insert guilt here.  Followed by tears rushing like a river down my cheeks.

My first thought was: “I’m a failure.”  What kind of horrible mother models this kind of behavior that her kids would feel the need to pray for her?!

But, then, the Holy Spirit broke through my pride and spoke to my heart: “You’ve taught her well.  You have shown her that you aren’t perfect — no one is.  She needs to see that so when she fails, she knows that she’s not alone.”

Letting our kids see our imperfections teaches them the most important lesson we can teach as parents — in their failures, in their shortcomings…run to Jesus.  Pray, Seek, Knock.  And the door will be opened.  He will hear their hearts.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

In the past, when Alyssa has been frustrated or angry or having a bad day or whatever, my response to her is to take it to Jesus.  Let’s lay this at His feet because only He can help.  I’m not perfect.  Far from it.  But, God uses our imperfections to show our kids Jesus.

Lifeway has some great tips for modeling prayer to our kids and making it their natural instinct.  You can read the full article here.

Tips for Praying With Children

Heart to Heart: Share with your child a time that you prayed and received the answer in a surprising or dramatic way.

Pray on the Spot: The next time your child comes to you with a problem or worry, instead of saying, “I will pray for you,” do it right then. Even if it is a short prayer, you will be demonstrating the important principle that God wants us to cast the care of all our concerns on Him and pray about everything. (See 1 Peter 5:7 and Philippians 4:6-7.)

Pray Through the Newspaper: Pass out sections of the newspaper and ask each child to come up with one concern to pray about.

Pray a Blessing

Praying a prayer of blessing on your child’s life each night at bedtime (or other times of the day) can bring comfort, reassurance, and hope to your child’s heart. Pray for God’s favor, protection, and peace. Thank the Lord for something specific – a gift, talent, or quality in your child. You can use a Bible blessing such as Psalm 5:12 or Numbers 6:25 or speak from your heart. When you pray scriptural blessings, you are speaking words that match God’s desire for your child.

Thanksgiving

An essential part of prayer is simply saying, “Thank You, God.”

Blessing Basket: Fill a small basket with little slips of paper. Encourage family members to write or draw pictures of things for which they are thankful.

Best Part of the Day: Ask each child to say a sentence prayer, thanking God for the best part of her day.

Family Journal: Keep a notebook full of things for which the family is thankful.

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