Some of the most interesting passages in the Old Testament are when the patriarchs blessed their children. The Bible never really tells us for sure if they were actually prophecies from God or just reflected the father’s wishes, but they had a lasting effect on the sons who heard them.
As parents, we don’t have (and probably don’t want) the power of blessing our child with a predictive blessing like those in the Old Testament. We can use prayer though, to bless our children in other ways. Ways that may effect them more than we realize.
This month in our challenge to teach our children to live more like Jesus, we are focusing on helping our children to develop a personal prayer life while we also work on strengthening our own. One idea I heard years ago rings true to me now as I encounter more and more adults who had damaging relationships with their parents. Our children need to hear us asking God to bless them in our prayers.
One of my friends found a great way to encourage her son to pray. At the beginning of the year, they wrote down the names of twelve people outside of their family who were special to them. Each name was written on a separate slip of paper and placed in a bowl. On the first day of each month, her son would draw a name for that month. She and her son would call the person and ask if they had any special prayer needs. The rest of the month, they would spend focused time each day praying for that person’s needs. She said it was amazing to her how many of the people would call back at the end of the month and tell her not only how special it made them feel, but also how many prayers were answered.
There are so many interesting and fun ways to teach your child the power of having a meaningful prayer life. Teaching your children to talk with God regularly and from their hearts, is one of the most important things you will ever teach them. While rote prayers can have their place, it is important to encourage our children to use their own words and have regular conversations with God in prayer. So what are some other interesting ways to encourage your children to pray? Here are some of my favorites.
If you are following the 12 month challenge to teach your children to live more like Jesus, this month is all about prayer. Jesus modeled prayer to us in such wonderful ways. It was obvious the prayer life of Jesus was about pouring his heart out to his Father. We only have a few of his actual prayers recorded, but I have a feeling they barely touch the tip of his prayer life.
In most Christian families, prayer is probably the area that gets the most attention when our children are young. Parents love those adorable bedtime prayers of small children and most have a favorite rote prayer which is said at meals. How many of us though, have gone beyond those basics to help our children establish a meaningful prayer life?
Schools all over the country teach fire safety to even the youngest children. If you say, “Stop, drop and roll.” to almost any child, he knows it is what he is supposed to do if he is on fire. As a Mom, I feel like I am a “Stop, drop and pray” Christian. My life is often so chaotic, I may be praying without ceasing, but often they are prayers because my life is on fire at the moment. My prayer life is often a reaction to the events and problems surrounding me currently or that I see approaching in the near future. My goal is to develop a more proactive rather than reactive prayer life, especially in my prayers for my child.
When my daughter started kindergarten, several of the moms approached me about joining their Moms In Touch group. MIT consists of small groups of Christian moms all over the world. They meet regularly to pray for the students and teachers in the public and private schools their children attend. Being in that group introduced me to the idea of planned, proactive prayer. The group shared with members several handouts of scriptures to pray for your child. Many of them focused on godly characteristics you hoped your child would develop.
My daughter is currently on a campaign to move mealtime prayers to the end of meals. She actually has a very valid point. In her opinion, no one really pays attention to the prayer before a meal because they are so hungry or are worried about the food getting cold (ouch!). We have had several light-hearted discussions on the pros and cons of her campaign.
In reality, I am just glad she thinks about prayer. We have family prayer times, but I have always tried to encourage our daughter to have her own private conversations with God. I don’t force her to pray out loud in front of us (and never have) any more than I would listen in on one of her private telephone conversations. I often wonder how she talks to God and I am happy when she occasionally gives me glimpses into her prayer life.