Introducing Young Children to Prayer

August 20th, 2013

As children grow in body, they also grow in faith. You will have many opportunities to help your child deepen his or her relationship with God. One of the most important ways your child can come to know God is through prayer. Help your child understand prayer as simply talking to God. Affirm God's presence in your life and in the life of your child. Let your child hear you talking to God. When your child sees that prayer is an everyday habit in your life, prayer can become a natural part your child's life.

There is no right way to pray. Although we often shut our eyes and bow our heads when we pray to show honor to God, this position is not the only way we can pray. Let your child hear and see you talk to God with your eyes open. Talk to God as you are taking a walk or riding in a car. Talk to God even when you (or your child) are upside down.

Give thanks to God anytime. Encourage impromptu prayers in the midst of everyday activities. When your child is pleased at a new accomplishment, say something like, "I'm so happy that you are big enough to brush your own teeth. Thank you, God, that David can brush his teeth." When you are riding in the car and notice the pink sky at sunset, say something like, "God planned for the sun and the sky. Thank you, God, for sunsets." Help your child understand that she or he can talk to God anytime, anywhere, and about anything.

Say a blessing before each meal. To keep prayers at mealtime from becoming monotonous vary how you pray. Have different family members take turns saying a prayer. Make the prayer a simple sentence. Encourage your child to name the food he or she sees on the table and then say together, "Thank you, God." Or sing a prayer.

Find times to hold your young child close beside you as you read a story. Let him or her feel the warmth of your touch and love as you express thanks to God for stories that are fun.

Enjoy seeing the world through the eyes of your young child. Recapture the wonder and awe at the beauty of God's creation. Talk with your child about the changing of the seasons. Help him or her remember the warmth of summer and the colors of fall. Go outdoors. Feel ­ the cold air on your face and discover the changes in the world around you. Talk about the coming spring and new life that then. While you and your child are exploring God's world, give thanks to God for the beauty of God's creation.

As your child grows, so will his or her understanding of prayer. Simple bedtime prayers of thanks can expand into prayers that ask for help, say I'm sorry, or seek comfort. Reassure your child that God is always with us hears our prayers. Let your child know by example that talking to God is an important part of life.

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