If the idea of children praying offends you, I’m not really sure why you’d be reading this post. But, okay. Keep reading, if you want. If you do believe in praying, here are 5 things to teach children about praying. Also, I want you to know, that if you don’t believe, I’m really not judging you. It’s not the right thing to do. It’s not my thing to do. I’m sorry about all the perfect Christians, who are always first to point out how imperfect everyone else is. Yeah, I know, there’s a lot of them, and it’s not a great motivation if you don’t believe. Okay, we’re way off track here, now…
He was so still and quiet. I thought he was doing yoga. You’re probably wondering why I’d even think that, but he likes yoga. I don’t even know if he actually knows how to do yoga, but he says he is, all the time. “Andres, what are you doing,” I asked quietly. He didn’t answer. “Andres!” I said. Still, no answer. I just stared at him for a minute. “HEY!” I shouted.
Without even opening his eyes or moving his head, he folded down all of his fingers except one pointer finger, and he shushed me! “I’m praying,” he whispered. This was the first time I’d even seen him praying completely alone. Honestly, I wish I could take more credit for this, but I can’t. At least, I can’t say that I spend much time telling my kids they should pray or have to pray. If I do mention it, the phrase I most likely use is, “you can pray.” It’s not easy to teach children about praying.
You can teach children what prayers to say, but that doesn’t teach children about praying, or rather, how to pray.
We don’t often go to church on Sundays because… Well, I’m not going to explain myself. We don’t. Maybe another time, I’ll get into all of that. I’ll tell you what though; if you have spent any time on this site, I bet you have a pretty good idea of why we rarely go, and it’s not because we don’t like going to church.
Anyway, we’re Catholic. I say that, and it’s true, but I’m sure the whole not-going-to-church thing ticks some people off. Fine, we’re bad Catholics? That’s okay. I don’t really worry about what people think, or say, for that matter. When I do go to church, I’m certainly not one to hope everyone sees me when I walk up to take communion, so they’ll know I’m a good Catholic. Above all else, I trust my relationship with him, believe that he knows my heart, and know he sees all I do. So, I don’t have to pretend. I mean, I can’t, because knows. Also, I don’t pretend to be good, when I’m not. I don’t try to be better, so people will notice. And, I don’t try to bargain to get
I have a very personal, even private, relationship with him.
My kids watch bible-stories on YouTube. They have children’s bible books, and we talk about God whenever they want to talk. I don’t pressure them about it or try to use God as a weapon against them when they’re acting up. I nurture their faith, but I don’t force them to pray. Still, they believe, and the triplets are especially fond of him. That’s great. I’m happy about that. But, some time ago, I had to put my foot down, and let them know.
God is not Santa Claus!
Seriously though, I can’t tell you how many times I’d heard these little ones shout out things like, “God, can I have Adidas?” And, “God, can you tell the tooth-fairy to give me more money?” Oh, and then there were the times they’ve called on God to punish their siblings for not sharing toys, candy, etc. One day I overheard, “God, can you make the ants eat all his candy, because he won’t share?!”
Yeah. I know!
Obviously, I needed to teach my children about the purpose of praying, how to pray, why to pray, when to pray, and where to pray. That’s a lot to teach and it’s a lot for them to remember. So, I went with my trusty “5 Rules” style. They can remember five things if they practice, so I try to break as many things down into 5 simple steps for them, so it’s not too complicated.
That’s when I came up with my 5 things to teach children about praying.
You can pray Anywhere.
You can tell God anything.
Give thanks when you pray.
Ask God to help you to make good decisions.
Pray for people you love, and even for people you don’t like.
That’s it. That’s what I’ve taught them about praying. Sure, there are lots of other things I could and will teach them. For now, this is what they need to understand. I love the classic prayers and get why we want to teach them to our children. Still, teaching scripted prayers doesn’t teach them how to have open dialogue and a personal relationship with God.
Like I said, I don’t tell my children they have to pray. They just do. All the time. They follow these five rules about praying and I have to say, it’s pretty amazing to watch!
What are your favorite things to teach children about praying? Be sure to share in the comments! I’d love to know.
By: Alicia Gonzalez