By Mrs. Don Morris
My husband and I have a strong desire to pass on our faith to our children. We want it to be their love and respect for the Lord Jesus that propels them through life. Teaching our children to pray is perhaps one of the most important lessons we could spend our time on. Of course, there is no five step method, and all of us are still in the process of learning to pray.
I find it very interesting that the disciples asked the Lord to teach them to pray. His response is also striking. He could have said, “No, you can learn that on your own,” but instead He complied. If the Lord taught the disciples to pray, I think we would do well to follow His example and teach our children to pray.
The first prayer we all need in our lives is the prayer of the tax collector: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” Our children need to understand that God hears the prayers of those who belong to Him, and that if they don’t repent and turn from their life of sin there is no basis for a relationship with the Lord. The Lord Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not forbid them.” How often do we as adults tell little ones the Gospel, but then think that perhaps they are too young to understand and come. I know of several children who have come between the ages of two and three. I came to the Lord at a very young age; in fact, I hesitate to say when, because there were several times in my childhood when I understood a little more and reaffirmed my desire to belong to the Lord. If your little one shows a desire to confess his sins and believe on the Lord Jesus, do not hesitate to bring that child to Him. Then pray that he will continue to grow in faith, understanding, and love for Him.
Our children learn by example. Are we willing to openly confess our sin to the Lord in their hearing? Do we admit our daily sins and ask for forgiveness? Are we sharing our story of how the Lord Jesus won our hearts to Himself?
Once a basis for a relationship with the Lord is established, the conversations we have with Him are boundless and endless. I want my children to understand that we have the privilege of sharing our lives with Him. We need to communicate with the Lord Jesus on a daily, hourly, and minute-by-minute level. The Word says, “Pray without ceasing.” This doesn’t mean that He wants us to go around muttering prayers all day. Instead, we should be seeking the mind of God, desiring to have His thoughts and attitudes permeate our hearts, and responding to the Holy Spirit as He instructs us.
My husband and I are convinced that it is a good idea to share with our children some of the needs of our family. We recently had to move to a new location. We really needed a larger house as well. So we began to pray. We now live in a spacious older home. The children know that God cared and provided for us. They are also aware that all of the homes this size were three times as expensive as the one the Lord gave us. So we all are willing to tough out the renovating phase, knowing that, just as He provided the house, He will give us patience, endurance, and strength to help us get the work done. The children have never complained, because they have seen God’s hand working.
Teaching our children to confess their sins to the Lord can be a very humbling experience. We need to model this to our children. I don’t know how many times I have needed to apologize and take my child by the hand and ask the Lord to forgive me as well. When our children see our vulnerability, they also become humble and tender hearted. I wish I could say that we are doing this perfectly, but we still need a lot of work.
We have special times set aside for prayer. Although we don’t want prayer to become a ritual, we do want it to become a habit. We pray before meals. Sometimes this is a quick thank you for the food and other times we also pray for those who are in need. We all need to develop an attitude of gratitude. Thanking the Lord for the necessities of daily life reminds us that we must rely on Him even for our very basic needs. We often let the children pray at mealtimes, as they need to learn to pray aloud without embarrassment. It always gives me great joy when we have more than one who wants to pray. We let everyone who has a desire do so. At the start of a new school day, I ask the Lord to help us to treat each other with kindness and love and to enable us to learn new things. It is a relief to me that we can commit our day to Him. It takes the burden off of my shoulders and puts it where it belongs. The children are encouraged to know that He will be there to help them over the rough places.
I pray when I get in the car to go somewhere. This time has become more precious to me, as we have been in two car accidents in the last three months. How nice to know that the Lord not only guides our footsteps, but even guides our cars! Before kissing the children at night and tucking them in, either my husband or I spend a little time praying with them individually. This is a time that we can model praying for them and they can in turn pray as well. We can share struggles we are going through and pray that we will be strong and rely on the Lord. What a wonderful way to end the day!
Originally published Mar 27, 2004 LAF. Have you visited our archives lately?