Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Teaching Children to Pray

I want my children to pray as adults at least as regularly as they brush their teeth. I don't want my children to fall into the error of the Church of Laodicea (Rev 3:15-16). I want them to be confronted with the reality of God's existence, including His love and mercy for them, so clearly in their childhood that they will never be able to pretend as adults that He doesn't exist. I certainly hope and pray that they will choose to give their whole heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). Our children are very young still, so our focus is on forming habits and basic instruction.
  1. Attach prayer to activities we participate in throughout the day. This includes before and after meals, in the morning when they get up, in the evening when they go to bed, when they hurt themselves, and as we travel in our car.
  2. Set apart time in our day specifically for prayer and Bible study. We have family prayers every day and we have "individual" prayer times (which is actually both girls together with their dad or me). We say a prayer, aloud and in their presence, for each of them every morning. We read a selection from the Bible to them most days and draw a stick-figure sketch for them to color in each of their "prayer journals" related to that selection as well discuss it with them so they can engage the reading and understand it better. We memorize Scripture as a family
  3. Their "individual" prayer time is modeled on our own individual prayer time, using the ACTS model. Eventually we expect them to be able to use that model on their own and have a personal and truly individual prayer time every day. Maybe when they are fairly fluent readers? We haven't reached that point yet, so I can't say exactly when they will be ready...
  4. When a "crisis" comes up, we consciously try to include prayer in the solution. For example, when my daughter stubs her toe, my response is to sit with her, cuddle her, kiss her, and pray aloud for her toe to be healed and to stop hurting.
These aren't things we are doing haphazardly or just for the present. Our vision is for the long-term and we are building habits now that we hope and pray our children will continue throughout the rest of their lives. Being intentional in the small ways to build habits for my children's life-long (hopefully) relationship with the Lord, Works for Me.

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