Friday, April 22, 2011

Teaching Children To Pray

If I had to choose one thing in my life that brings me the most peace, direction and comfort, I'd choose prayer. It's what defines my relationship with God, helps me know what to do and fuels my faith. I believe in prayer and I believe that prayers are answered!

With that said, it's no surprise that I want my children to learn to love prayer as well. (When I say "I" I should really say "we" as this is equally important to my husband!)

When my son was an infant he became a part of our family prayers, even when he was sleeping in his bouncer and we knelt near by. As he grew older he learned how to fold his arms and bow his head (although we're still working on the keeping eyes closed part!)

Then as his speaking abilities improved, we had him repeat words after us to say his own prayers.

The more he grew, the more we encouraged and taught him how to pray. We made posters to act as prompt, helping him generate his own words for prayers. We taught him to thank God and to pray for other people. Isaac was praying on his own and we were feeling pretty good about his progress...

And then things got tricky. Right around last September, out of the blue, Isaac began to refuse to say prayers. He no longer wanted to say them himself or repeat after us. He didn't even want to fold his arms or act reverently during prayers.

I wish I could say I was calm and understanding, but in truth I was exasperated and bewildered. Why didn't my son want to communicate with God?  Well honestly, he probably wasn't quite grasping the fact that prayer is communicating with God.
But even though his faith and understanding may be small, I still desire for him to pray so that he can begin to develop a personal relationship with Heavenly Father.  Over the past several months Issac has begun praying on his own.  Sometimes his prayers go on and on as he lists one by one his toys, books, and family members that he is thankful for!

We still haven't come to the end of this story. I suppose we never will! Aren't all of our relationships with God constantly growing and changing? 

Now Amy is the one learning to fold her arms and bow her head for prayers.  As her language skills improve she'll be able to repeat after us and then pray on her own.  Watching my own children learn how to pray has deepened my desire to pray with all my heart and claim the promise from the scriptures: "But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul."  Deuteronomy 4:29

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Thanks for sharing your ideas! I love to hear and learn from others!