Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Teach Them to Pray

As children, most of us probably learned prayers like these: "God is great, God is good, Let us thank Him for our food..." and "Now I lay me down to sleep...".  For some reason, I haven't taught those prayers to my children. There's certainly nothing wrong with them. They're actually very sweet. But I guess I just wanted my children to learn at an early age to speak to God from their hearts. I want them to find it just as easy to talk with their Heavenly Father as with their earthly one. Granted, when you let your little ones pray on their own there will be interesting and even funny consequences. I wish I had written down all the times mine have said something during family prayer that cracked us up! Since we want to foster a spirit of reverence during our devotional time, and we don't want to encourage any of our children to show off while praying, (we don't want to embarrass them, either) we try to keep any little "offender" from knowing that he or she said something wrong or that they had been funny. But, sometimes we simply can't hold in the laughter. I'm glad God has a sense of humor, too!

It's so important whether they quote prayers, pray on their own, or repeat prayers after you, to encourage them to pray and to live a prayerful life in front of them. Let them see and hear you in prayer, and never, ever discourage them, even if they say something funny when they pray. When they ask you to  pray about something that seems a little silly, figure out a way to include it in your prayer. (As long as they're not just goofing off.) They'll learn as they get older what is appropriate and what isn't. Gentle teaching is necessary, of course.  They should learn to be reverent and to pray for others instead of constantly asking for things for themselves. But never discourage them!  I remember the time in school when I was about seven and the teacher asked the students if they had any prayer requests. A little girl, obviously concerned, asked for the teacher to pray for  her pet. The teacher's reply stunned me. "Oh, we don't pray about animals...." I felt so sorry for that little girl. I wonder what kind of questions came into her impressionable mind? Of course we pray for animals if children ask us to! They need to know that if it's important to them, it's important to God!

Really, maybe we could learn from our children how we should pray. I, for one, have a very difficult time praying in front of anyone because I can't pray "good enough". Too many of us are hindered by that, I think. We could take some tips from our little ones. Listen to them...to the simplicity and sincerity of their prayers, and take note. God isn't impressed by our words. He's touched by the honest, earnest cry from our heart.

Jessica Geise is a follower of Jesus Christ, the wife of an amazing husband, and the mother of four children who are the loves of her life. She is passionate about homeschooling, enjoys spending time with her family more than anything else,  would rather buy a new book than new clothes, is always starting on a diet, and thinks that chocolate is the next-best medicine to laughter. Other than reading, her favorite hobbies are music, decorating, blogging, and making attempts at photography. She blogs about this, that, and the other at www.itsthelittlethings4.blogspot.com.


  1. I love the simple prayers of my children. You are right; we can learn from their simplicity and sincerity.

  2. I'm trying to learn that myself. Thank you for reading, Jennifer!