Mar 3, 2010

Teaching Them How To Pray

Have you ever sat down to a meal with someone who asked their child to lead in giving thanks and the prayer was spoken so fast that you didn't even hear it? Did you ever do that when you were a child? Did you have a specific prayer that you said at every meal or when you went to bed? I did a Google search on children's prayers and was surprised at how many little poem type prayers for children there were. Here are a few examples you may be familiar with.

Thank you for the world so sweet,
Thank you for the food we eat,
Thank you for the birds that sing,
Thank you God for everything.


God is great,
God is good.
And we thank Him
For our food. Amen.


Lord, Bless this bunch, while we munch our lunch. Amen.


Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
If I should die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take
God bless our family and our friends.


(And the politically correct version.)

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
May angels watch me
through the night and
wake me with the morning light.

While these are cute, amusing, and poetic little prayers, they miss the mark of what prayer actually is. Prayer is talking with God. It is relational not religious. When we teach our children to pray a memorized prayer that was written by someone else, it becomes a set of words that can be recited at the speed of light without a thought. It's important to teach even the littlest child to talk to God from their own heart.

As adults we should also participate in the prayer and not always let the child take the lead. We are the ones who need to model prayer to our children and grand children. Jesus modeled prayer for us in Matthew 6.

"This, then, is how you should pray: " 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."  Matthew 6:9-13

In the same way, we need to model prayer with elements of praise and adoration for God, prayer for God's Kingdom and His will to reign on earth, requests for our provision, forgiveness for our sins and for those who have wronged us, for protection against temptation and against Satan. Not that all of these elements need to be included in every prayer but that they all are frequently modeled in our prayer life. In doing this we will teach our children how to develop relational prayer with God, and as we listen to them pray we will also gain insight into their hearts.

Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth. Psalm 54:2

...but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Psalm 66:19

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Matthew 6:7

I am at Titus 2 in Action today. Please join me there.

Titus 2 in Action

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"A girl needs to be so lost in God, that the guy is going to have to seek HIM to find her!" ...Maya Angelou


Andrea said...

Hope you are having an awesome week.
Blessings, andrea

RCUBEs said...

Hi sister Edie...Bye sister Edie..

:) Just want to say a warm hello to you. I am busy and I'm glad I have time to visit friends today. God bless you always.

KrippledWarrior said...

Of course you are right about discernment. But how that poem came about has a long story behind it!

Irritable Mother said...

Appreciated these thoughts on prayer, Edie.
I love to pray with my kids, and truly pray that they will develop a similar passion for prayer.
Check that. I would love for their passion to surpass mine!

Beth in NC said...

Edie, girl -- I have written you two books (long emails) from my Blackberry -- just to realize I was sending it to the "noreply" address. Argh. lol

Anyway, I am praising God over the reunion of you and your friend for such a time as this!

I'm glad the link worked for you. AND ... you would love a book I just read entitled, "The School of the Seers" by Jonathan Welton! Trust me, GREAT STUFF.

Bless you!