Grow: Creating Spiritual Practices with Children (Prayer)
|photo from theepottershand.wordpress.com|
As a mom of three young ones, it’s hard for me to maintain the same spiritual practices that I did when I was in college. It makes me laugh when people suggest to just get up an hour before the kids to have a quiet time in the morning- reading Scripture, journaling, and meditating with my cup of hot tea.Yes, I would indeed love that. However, I’m not going to get up at 4:30 every morning after a night full of changing wet sheets, reinserting pacifiers, giving tylenol to fever-y kids, and helping calm kids after bad dreams. It’s just not going to happen, and in fact, I’ve finally come to the place where I feel content and confident enough to realize that spiritual practices just have to look different, depending on what season of life I’m in.
For those parents who can commiserate with this season, perhaps it’s time to develop season-appropriate rituals that we can experience with our children. Many of us thrive on routines. We have a way that we get ready in the morning, or we have a certain way that we start our day at the office. Maybe we always do laundry on Mondays (or if you have three kids, then everyday) and clean our bathrooms on Fridays. I think we can help our children experience this same sense of security and order when it comes to spiritual practices.
One age-old spiritual practice is prayer. In many ways, this is perhaps the easiest one to engage in with our children. Many of us were taught to pray before meals, pray when we see ambulances/fire trucks, and pray before we go to sleep. We can pray for scrapes and bumps to heal, or we can pray for our friends who are sick. We can pray for patience or peace or comfort with them after their temper tantrums. Teaching our kids that they can and should always call out to God teaches them of God’s care and faithfulness.
Another way our family has tried to create a fun practice of prayer is by writing unique prayers for each of our children, praying it over them as a family on a regular basis. In the first few months of their lives, Jake and I prayerfully imagined what their lives may be about. Then, we wrote their prayer and a few select verses on an index card. Although this ritual has changed as our family has grown, we now keep it in a common place that the kids can reach. When it is time to pray, they go get the cards and then we sit on the floor together. Whoever is prayed for first climbs into Jake’s lap and we all gently lay a hand on their head, praying that prayer over them. Then, it’s the next person’s turn. The kids LOVE doing this- I think it’s a special part of their day. They’ve practically memorized each other’s prayers. If you’d like to see our prayer and verses for our kids, you can find them here.
The style of prayers and verses fit our family well- the concepts and the choice of vocabulary in the prayers are not abnormal; we regularly talk about re-creation, God’s love for the nations, Jesus redeeming all things to Himself, and the Kingdom of God. I think the key to making this time meaningful is that the kids know what they are praying, at least on a basic level, and that it’s something that they can evolve into as they learn and mature in their thinking and their relationship with God. Our goal for the prayers is that they wouldn’t need to change as the kids grow older– that the vocabulary and style would “fit” for them at every age. We hope that the prayers would be something they carry with them throughout life.
What are some ways that you create prayer routines in your house?