Kids don’t learn how to pray at church. They certainly won’t learn how by reading about it. Instead, they will learn by listening to Mom and Dad pray. Praying with your kids is one of the most important things you can do as a parent to pass down your faith to the next generation.
Not sure how? Nervous about what to say? Anxious about it being awkward? For the next couple of weeks I want to share a few steps to making prayer with your kids super simple. Here’s the first step:
Pray with them every single day.
If you do something every day, it can’t be awkward. (Well, in general. I’m sure you can think of a few exceptions.) if you do it every day, you and your kids will both get used to it and it will become a habit. There’s at least five benefits to making prayer a daily routine:
- If you start praying with your kids every single day, not only will they come to expect it but it will become so natural for you to do. You’ll never again have to battle with the voices in your head – “I should pray with them tonight. No, it’s late. You know what, I’m going to do it anyway. But what do I say? Oh this is awkward, I’ll just do it tomorrow night instead…” It will become a habit and the following words will roll right off your tongue without even thinking: “Let’s pray.”
- Your kids are learning what is most important in life by watching your habits. If you watch the news every night, your kids will know that what’s happening in the world is important to you. If they see you brushing your teeth and showering every day, they’ll learn that hygiene is important. Things you only do every week, or every month – those are the things that are secondary, or only done when you have time, or not very important. Don’t let prayer fall into the “when you have time” category! Remember, you are teaching them what living the Christian life looks like. They are subconsciously thinking “Mom and Dad are Christians, so what they do must be what Christians do.”
- We learn quicker when we practice daily. I’ve taken several language classes – Spanish, Greek, Hebrew – and daily practice is the key to keeping up with vocabulary and fluency. If I skipped a few days of rehearsing, I forgot what had taken weeks to memorize. In the same way, if you pray every day with your kids, they will start picking up on the vocabulary and structure of your prayer. They’ll learn how to address God, what kinds of things you talk to God about, the kind of attitude you are supposed to have when praying, the reverence of talking to God, etc.
- Every child, no matter what age, deserves to know that Mom and Dad pray for them. I want my kids going to bed thinking “My dad just talked to God about me”. I want them at school thinking “God is watching over me, because I heard my dad ask God to do that.” I want them to know that “God cares about my headache, because my dad just asked God to help me feel better.” Never allow your kids the chance to wonder if prayer is important, or wonder if their parents pray for them – pray FOR them while you are WITH them every day.
- If your goal is to pray every day, then realistically you’ll pray every other day, or maybe two out of every three days. We get preoccupied, we get busy, we get tired – so stuff gets pushed off. That’s life. If prayer is a weekly routine, you may only pray once or twice a month with your kids. But if it is a daily habit, you’ll likely end up praying with them four or more days a week. That’s a good spiritual legacy to leave them.