Starting something new can be as difficult for parents as it is for children. Our busy lives often make creating a new discipline hard to imagine. But the richness of a daily prayer moment between you, your child, and God will create a new dimension, a peace in your life that helps to transcend all the chaos. It starts with one simple step—a commitment to do it every night. Once the pattern is established, you will be surprised by how much you and your child look forward to your prayer time. It becomes a focal point for the end of your day, and something you will always cherish, even as your child begins to develop his or her independent prayer life. Below are some simple guidelines to help you get started on the journey.
Easy Steps to Praying with Your Child
1. Pick a Time: Set aside a specific time to say a prayer with your child every night. Try to be consistent.
2. Pick a Place: Create a quiet, comfortable, peaceful atmosphere in which to pray with your child (in bed, low light, door closed).
3. Plan the Prayer: First discuss the purpose of prayer with your child. For example, thanking God, or asking for God's help. Give your child an example of a free-form prayer, especially if he or she is used to doing prayers by rote. Understand that speaking directly to God out loud, even if your mother or father is the only one in the room, can be intimidating to a young child.
4. Create an Opening: Come up with an opening together for the prayer. For example: "Dear God" or "Dear Jesus." This helps you signal to your child that it's time to settle down and begin. It also makes the process less intimidating for children because they have a familiar starting point every night.
5. Give Your Child the Reins: Let your child begin the prayer, but prompt him or her when necessary. For example: "Are there good things that happened today that you want to thank God for? Is there anyone in our life who is hurting and needs God's help that we should pray for?"
6. Be Patient: If your child gets stuck or frustrated, tell him or her that God doesn't have a specific plan people need to follow when they pray. Guide, don't push. Only step in when your child asks for help. Silent moments during the prayer should not be considered obstacles, but moments of quiet reflection.
7. Thank God for Those You Love: At the end of the prayer ask your child to think about the people in his or her life that he or she wants to specifically thank God for. It can be family, friends, pets—anyone within your child's circle of love.