How to teach your children to love prayer
The manner in which children perceive prayer comes from the way they are shown its use. From being very young, children are influenced by what they see around them, and learn from it. A parent can make a child say their prayers, though a healthier approach would be to use this time as an opportunity, to learn about the child and to discuss with them, making the prayers a family thing rather than a discipline. Tell a child to wear a coat, and chances are they may resist. Show them how nice and snug that coat is, and they may decide for themselves that coats are a good thing. It really does depend on approach whether a child enjoys aspects of their life, and this guide is a simple one for parents who face the dilemma of how to teach their child not only to pray, but to love the action of praying.
When a parent introduces the concept of prayer, they have to remember that it must be something a child can feel comfortable with. Whether one child is involved or more children, introduce the child to prayer by being with them. If you say a prayer as an example, and make it something they recognize and can easily understand, you can then encourage them to say their prayer. Perhaps after story time, the child’s prayer time can be introduced as part of the nightly routine.
Creating the right prayer time.
If you can get into a routine, where a child looks forward to that «together» time with their parent, this works well. Just before they go to bed, get together with the children and make this a special time. Talk about their day. If they are sad about something, perhaps a prayer can make it right. If they are unhappy about something, this gives a parent a great chance to catch up on how their child thinks. This special time together is the foundation of their enjoyment and should not be formal. It should indeed be just like story telling, where a child wants to participate and expects their parent to as well.
Things to avoid.
A child who is young may be put off prayer if this is introduced in a negative way. If they are made to feel afraid that God will punish them if they are bad they may feel intimidated. If they are made to read Bible passages without being introduced to the stories, this can be overwhelming for a child’s understanding. If they see that Jesus is their friend, and are shown about bad behavior in other ways, they develop their own sense of right and wrong without feeling afraid.
Using prayer as a fun activity.
A child may want to say prayers for their teddy bears. Although you may think this silly, to a child those little soft toys are very important. If they want to include things which are fun in their prayers encourage them. The great thing about making it fun is that a child will look forward to those moments they have the full attention of their parent, and parents can also learn an awful lot about children during these moments, if they listen to the words of the child and learn to use these to help the child to develop and learn, as well as have fun.
Show them that prayers sometimes work
The magic of prayer comes true when they see prayers that work. Although, as they grow, they learn that prayers don’t always get answered when they want them to, imagine the joy of the child when they see something they prayed about come true. When this happens, rejoice in it, and let them feel the pleasure of having been listened to.
Prayer in song format.
Another way to make prayer fun is to join in a joyful song after the prayer is over. A favorite Christian song for children can be used to gently put them to sleep after the prayers of the day. They could even make up words to a song and sing them with you to a familiar children’s tune. This makes children feel at peace and happy and lets them know their parents took the time to share a special moment with them.
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