Friday, June 19, 2009

kids and prayer

Does anyone have any suggestions for how I can move my children from repeating the same prayer day in and day out to a more expressive, personal time of communicating with God?

When they see a need, they will often be spontaneous and pray for that particular need or person, but at night, after we've read our story and sang our song, they want to say the same prayer that they pray every night.

Josh says this "Thank you God for this beautiful day and having good dreams and having good everything. Amen."

and Gillian says "Thank you for this beautiful day. Help everyone in the whole world to have a good rest tonight."

sometimes Gillie adds a bit more, but usually that's it.

For about a year, when Ben would pray with them, he started it off with "Thank you for this beautiful day..." So that's where that comes from. I change it up everytime. Really proves the fact that the father sets the spiritual mood of the house.

Is it actually a good thing for kids to be so repetitive at this age? Or should they take some time each night before they pray to think about what they want to say?

And here's another thing. Gillian always wants to pray last. She says that she wants to listen to everyone else first so that she won't forget something. But regardless of what we have prayed, she stays stuck in her regular prayer. So that makes me question if she's really considering what we are saying or just stalling for whatever reason.

After a while, Ben turned this little battle with Gillie into "let's flip a coin to see who goes last." there's something i REALLY don't like about that. Once I noticed that it was happening, I started jumping up and down and raising my hand and getting really excited about going first every night. so now that's how Josh reacts. He wants to be first. But Gillie still wants to be last. It drives me bonkers. I want to make sure she feels comfortable speaking from her heart about the things/people that she cares about. I want her to take the time to consider all the things that she might want to pray about and then be excited about being allowed, even encouraged, to speak to the creator of the universe, the lover of her soul. Right now, it just seems that she wants to copy what she hears the rest of us say. Like she doesn't want to put any effort into it.

anyway, any thoughts? suggestions? advice?



Chris Freeland said...

First: My child is 10 months old, just says "dada" and "Sutton" (the dog's name). He said "Mama" for the first time today. So, it's easy to give advice about your kids since I don't have to live up to my advice until after you've forgotten it.

I'd be careful coaching my kids too much on how they have to pray at this age. The fact that they spontaneously pray for others is huge... you don't want them to think they have to impress you with their prayers.

As they get older and have a better grasp of what praying "from the heart" means, they'll pick a lot of that up as you model it. When you go first and model thoughtful prayers, they'll do what you do... even if it takes a year or two.

You've got great kids who get excited about praying. That's worth a lot.

chloeadele said...

I won't forget. ;)

I don't think there are any set rules for how people HAVE to pray. Certainly none that I could come up with. I know what Jesus said about it, and that's my only real starting point for my own prayer life. But until the kiddos know God better, I'm not sure that I should share that formula with them. I don't want them to think of prayer as a formula, like a recipe that when followed to the letter produces the desired results. It isn't like that.

I just want them to know that they can speak from their heart all the time. I definitely don't want them to want to impress ME! or even to try to impress God. It isn't about impressing anyone with their words or their heart. I just want them to know that they CAN talk to Him about anything. I don't want prayer time to be a battle. I know Ben wants to rush through it at night because he is tired and just wants them in bed already.

You're right though about me having great kids. I don't want to put any pressure on them. I don't get frustrated or act like what they offer isn't enough. Who am I to judge that?! I was just wondering how to show them the freedom that they could have. But I guess you're right that it may just take some more time and them seeing it modeled more.