The Impact of Prayer and the Family - Part 1
Do you remember the first time you prayed as a child? Can you recall what you prayed for, or how old you were? As Christians, we pray every day. It has become so deeply ingrained that we often don’t think about the early days when we were novices. Prayer is one of the first practices of Christianity that we introduce to our children. Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing a series exploring The Impact of Prayer and The Family. This segment will focus on starting the tradition of praying as a family.
Prayer is how we talk to God. It is vital that we teach our children the importance of prayer from an early age, so that they develop a good relationship with our Heavenly Father. Setting time aside to connect with God and each other is important for your children’s spiritual foundation. It is never too early to begin the practice of praying in the morning and at night as a family. God cares about their little souls, and has placed the responsibility of teaching children how to pray our hands as parents.
Starting the Tradition of Prayer Early
Even before your babies can walk or talk, you can introduce them to prayer – and over time, repetition will become routine! They'll not only become accustomed to praying, but they'll actually start looking forward to it!
It's important to pray with them consistently, even if they don’t necessarily understand what is said. The youngest children can understand non-verbal expressions and practices. For example, you can teach infants how to bow their heads and clasp their hands sooner than you think by leading by example and practicing every day. You can also introduce them to popular childhood prayers - like God is Good and God is Great - during their morning feeding. Make it a habit they anticipate every day. As they become toddlers, they begin to understand and recite the words to prayers - thus they become more aware of the the words - "let's pray." And even though their schedule become a lot busier, it's ever that much more important to incorporate prayer into your family’s schedule and to carve out prayer time - or "praise time" - with God. Like prayer time, praise time can take many different verbal and non-verbal forms - like listening, dancing or even singing along with Christian childhood songs. There's nothing more powerful and sweet than hearing your toddler enthusiastically belt out "...the B-I-B-L-E, yes that's the book for me..." in the car on the way to daycare singing. Just imagine the joy this brings to God to hear the littlest of his people praise him in song!
Praying with Your Children in the Morning and at Night
Praying with your children in the morning helps them understand that it is necessary to start the day with God. Toddlers’ first morning prayers can be as simple as “Good Morning God,” or “Thank you God for a new day.” Over time they learn the importance of thanking God for giving them another day and asking for his guidance as they go into the world. Morning conversations with God remind us to keep our focus on His purpose for us, no matter what circumstance may arise.
After the babies have been bathed and stories read, ending the night with a talk with God, such as praying the popular childhood prayer - Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep - is a good tradition to establish with your children. Always remembering to give thanks for what God has blessed them with throughout the day, and for giving them peace of mind at night. Prayer time is a great way to have a quiet moment with a baby before bed. Your voice is soothing for the baby, and this special time can become a great bonding time and a moment to decompress. As they grow up, night time prayer is a good way to reflect on the lessons they’ve learned that day.
A Family that Prays Together, Stays Together
Starting the tradition of praying together early will be beneficial for both your and child and your entire family. Praying together as a family builds an unbreakable bond. Not only will your children learn about the importance of prayer, but they will also always have a memory of praying with you. As a child gets older, family prayers can also lead to enlightening family discussions and offer some insight into what is on the hearts and minds of your children. They will feel that prayer time is a safe place where they can come to their earthly parents and Heavenly Father about anything.
Praying as a family is one of the most important traditions you can have with your children. They will grow closer to God and to you. Starting to pray with your child in the morning and at night, even in infancy, will ground them in the impact of prayer on their lives that will carry through adulthood.