One of the most important things parents do is teach their children valuable skills they’ll use throughout their lives. “Train children in the way they should go; when they grow old, they won’t depart from it.” (Proverbs 22.6, CEB).
There’s no greater skill than praying!
As parents, we want our kids to have a vital relationship with God. And, prayer is a key to the realization of that hope!
But teaching kids to pray is hard. There’s no “10 easy steps to teach kids how to pray” or “90-day strategy.” It’s a lifelong process. In fact, as disciples of Jesus (students, learners, apprentices), we’re still learning ourselves!
Some days are rough. Some days, the kids won’t settle down and be still while we pray. But occasionally there are glimpses of hope. I saw three glimpses this week.
On Sunday morning, I began the day by praying and preparing for Sunday’s worship service. Immediately, Ethan knelt next to me. It didn’t last long, but we prayed a couple of verses we’ve been memorizing, including, “Teach me your way, Lord, so that I can walk in your truth. Make my heart focused only on honoring your name” (Psalm 86.11, CEB).
Then, on Monday night, as I was dealing with an illness, and preparing to sleep on the couch, Sarah checked on me. I invited her to pray for me. Sarah, who’s three, said, “I will tomorrow.” I encouraged her to pray right then, and she prayed a meaningful prayer.
During devotion a couple of nights ago, we reviewed our memory verses. Afterward, Ethan offered to lead us through one. We weren’t sure where he was headed, but he proceeded to lead us through a simple prayer, phrase by phrase.
It is often said some things are better caught than taught.
We pray during our evening family devotion just before bedtime. We pray at mealtimes. Occasionally, there may be other opportunities, but those are the primary times. One day, a couple of years ago, I was home with the kids one afternoon while Joleen was returning from an out-of-town meeting. I suggested we pray before the kids’ afternoon naps. Ethan said, “Now? We don’t pray now!”
We teach prayer by what we do and also what we don’t do. It’s a challenging reminder to pray often, and when we do pray, to not go on autopilot by relying on tired clichés or formulaic statements.
Not only are we disciples of Jesus, but our kids are apprentices of us. God has given us the awesome responsibility of training them up in the way they should go.
If you’re a parent or a grandparent, what are your children or grandchildren catching from you?
If you’ve made some discoveries through your own trial and error, please leave a comment!