Teaching Your Children to Pray Through Difficult Situations
Parenting is not easy. But it's a blessing! We've been given the most priceless opportunity to mold a little human into a God-fearing Christian. It's fun and rewarding, it's exhausting and challenging, and sometimes it's hard and traumatic (sometimes all in one day!) And sometimes, it requires having conversations about difficult situations. In Part III of our series on prayer, we share thoughts on teaching your child(ren) to pray during these times.
Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.
~ Ecclesiastes 7:9
Even before our babies can formulate words, they show signs of tantrums when things don’t go their way. Simply taking away a dangerous item for their safety can set off a crying and body flailing spell. As they develop into toddlers, they naturally develop more complex emotions and feelings. They learn self-control, restraint and reflection (with a little help, of course.) And they learn to pray. But what they don't understand it the connection that prayer has on their circumstance! Part of learning the attributes of self-control, restraint and reflection is also learning to first look to God when they feel themselves getting angry or sad about a situation. As parents, we can nurture this development by teaching your children to “stop,” “reflect” and “pray” through difficult and or traumatic circumstances. Developing habits of praying with them (in the moment) and reciting Bible verses will is a good first step.
We Must Be Our Children’s First Examples
How many times have we said or heard the infamous phrase – “do as I say, not as I do?” It’s easy to say - and sort of rolls off the tongue, and gives parents an easy out when we fail to be living examples for our children. In our own times of crises or uncertainty, for example, we must head this same advice. We must also "stop, reflect and pray" (in the moment!) But what often happens is that we fail to seek out God first! We sometimes react with fear or doubt. Or we withdraw. Or we lash out. We are only human, after all, born in iniquity; thus our innate actions from birth are not always to follow the will of God. We fall short of his glory every day. But we serve a good and forgiving God who loves us unconditionally and wants the best for us! Jesus is our example! And we, as parents, must be our children's example. They look to us. They look up to us. They need us! Therefore, as with our children, we must be mindful when things are in disarray or go wrong – to “stop,” “reflect” and “pray”. This is a good example for them to see and hear – and ultimately adopt.
A large part of our role as Christian parents is to train our children how to react in times of difficult situations. Prayer, as we've shared throughout this series, is critical in shaping your children's relationship with God and has a significant impact on the who your child will ultimately become in life. We have God’s instruction manual - the Bible - and we have all the love and guidance we need as Christian parents to teach them our children how to pray, how to make good decisions, and let them know that God hears every prayer we send up to Him. Prayer changes things!