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5 ways for helping your child talk to God


Geoffrey Booker, 6, prays before mealtime at his home in Franklin,
Tenn. Establishing a prayer routine will help children develop a habit
that can serve them for a lifetime. UMNS photos by Mike DuBose.

By Susan Hogan and Jan Surratt*
Dec. 4, 2009

School. Soccer practice. Household chores. Homework. Television. Video games.

 
Evan Boling, 5, prays before dinner at his home in Nashville, Tenn.

 

And those are just the activities on your child’s schedule. Add your own lifestyle, and finding time to pray as a family can be difficult.

"With our busy families, so many times our lives are just hectic and chaotic, going this place and that," said Betty Kay Hudson of First United Methodist Church in Lancaster, S.C. "We forget to intentionally make space for prayer."

Yet no one is more important than a parent in cultivating the importance of prayer in children. Your example and guidance can send your child’s spirit soaring.

How can parents help their children talk to God? With help from Hudson and others, here are five suggestions:

1. Make prayer part of your daily life.

Establishing a prayer routine will help your child develop a habit that can serve them for a lifetime. Parents often choose to pray with their children at meals or bedtime. But regular prayers also can take place in cars or gardens or playgrounds. Be flexible but consistent with whatever options you choose.

2. Know your child.

Does your daughter have an artistic, creative personality? She may love singing her prayers or tactile experiences such as touching a bit of anointing oil to her hand or forehead in the morning, offering the day to God. Other children may be more open to contemplative or private prayer.


Children at the John Masiza Methodist Church’s daycare center in Uitenhage,
near Port Elizabeth, South Africa, say
grace in this October 2004 photograph.

 

3. Create rituals.

The rituals can be as simple as praying for thanksgiving and safety each time the car is started, or praying when you see emergency sirens or people stopped in cars on a highway. Or it can be a special prayer or biblical verse or devotion passed down from generation to generation.

4. Lift up the child’s voice

Recite "God bless" with your child, then ask who or what they'd like God to bless. A child may say a teacher, but don't flinch if the answer is "a pet turtle." This exercise is used to teach children prayers of petition.

To teach prayers of gratitude, recite "Thank you, God" together, then ask your child to name something. It could be a person, a favorite activity or even the sun.

5. Help your child create a prayer list.

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Children's prayer lists often include names of friends who are sick or important events in their lives. Keep the list posted in a prominent place, such as on the refrigerator. This will help to reinforce the significance of prayer.

Lest we forget, there is one other guideline that may be as important as all the rest: Pray for your children.

You know how to give good things to your children. How much more, then, will your father in heaven give good things to those who ask him?” -- Matthew 7:11.

*Hogan is a freelance writer based in Chicago. Jan Surratt writes for the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate.

News media contact: David Briggs, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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