We can talk about prayer, teach our kids about prayer, and even use cute methods to help them know what and how to pray. These are all good things. However, what will impact them for life is to see their mom and dad actually praying.
When they see us turning to God in prayer, suddenly they have a wider view into our personal relationship with God. They learn the practical things of prayer.
What are some of the things they learn when they see us pray?
- That God's opinion and direction are more important than any other
- How to pray for others
- That we truly depend on Him for life and godly living
- How to come to God with needs, concerns, or to ask forgiveness
- That He cares about the details of our lives along with the big things
- That prayers can look and sound different (location, posture, written, etc.)
- How to listen to God in prayer
- That God answers prayers in different ways
Our children learn that prayer is vital to us and that God is the most important person. They see us walking humbly with Jesus as we guide them in the same direction. They see an ongoing, two-way conversation with God that is an integral part of our lives. Isn't that what we want them to see?
It is easy to fall into prayers of habit. There have been times when mealtime prayers were all my children experienced for the day. When that happens, we are missing out on the best opportunities to model prayer for them.
There are many ways to display your prayer life as an example for your children to follow. They may feel awkward at first, especially if this type of ongoing conversation with God wasn't a part of your family culture growing up. That awkwardness will pass over time, and what will be left is a rich experience that will impress upon your children's hearts and minds.
Here are a few ways to get started:
- Pray over your day before getting started.
- After reading through scripture together, pray through some verses with your child.
- Praise and worship God in your prayers.
- Let them see you pray with your husband before he goes out the door.
- When you sin against them, humbly apologize and ask forgiveness, then allow them to hear you pray to Jesus, confessing, repenting, and asking for forgiveness and help in doing the right thing.
- When you're in the car, pray aloud for those involved in traffic accidents, for blessing and/or guidance for the event you are going to, or for the friends and family you will be visiting.
- When strife hits (tantrums, tension, bickering, frustration, anger, etc.) stop everything and turn to God. Fall on your knees or put your head on the table and pray for peace and wisdom in the situation.
- Reveal glimpses of your private prayer life: let them catch you praying during quiet time in the morning, or tell them about times you've retreated to pray about a matter.
Choose one or two of these practices and begin modeling them today. Imagine what you'd love to see in your child's personal prayer life, and begin to model that for them. You will be amazed at the results!