February 4, 2013
Teaching Your Child to Pray
Every child has an image of God– no matter what he or she or the family's religious beliefs. This is not to say, however, that this image conforms to the Christian God. It merely means that kids absorb ideas and images from their surrounding culture about God. And it may point to the idea that humans are created with a need for God. But this also means that most children are curious about who God is and how to talk with God.
There is a good article about teaching children to pray from the current issue of Interpreter Magazine. Here are an excerpt:
"'Prayers can be in pictures, songs, art, movement and dance,' said the Rev. Melanie Gordon, director of children's ministries for the General Board of Discipleship in Nashville, Tenn. 'We have to make sure that we honor that there are other ways (than words) to show God how thankful we are.'
Children's pure intensity and earnestness in prayer often inspire her.
No child is too young to experience prayer, Gordon said. Parents can say prayers or recite Scripture in rhythm as they walk an infant. 'I encourage nursery workers, when they are cradling or soothing children, to say prayers with them and to let them know that they are a blessing,' Gordon said.
Modeling prayer tells children that prayer is essential. She encourages adults to be willing to pray aloud — and not always ask the pastor to pray for the group. The relationship with God is important, she said, not the form of the prayer.
Young children should also learn familiar prayers, such as the doxology, the Lord's Prayer, and Psalm 23, Gordon said. Their understanding of the prayers will change as they grow – what the Lord's Prayer means to a 3-year-old is different from what it means to a 7-year-old.
For more see: http://www.interpretermagazine.org/interior.asp?ptid=43&mid=14626
When we teach kids to pray and how to pray, remember that kids are not blank slates.They have preconceived notions about who God is. So as you teach them about prayer, it is also important to explain who we believe God is. Prayer offers a teaching moment and provides a genuine opportunity for children to learn to be open to hearing God's presence in their lives.
If you have a story about prayer, please email firstname.lastname@example.org