Thursday, March 19, 2015

Teaching Kids to Pray

A few weeks ago, when the girls had been home from school and we had been snowed in and had a little too much "together time", we were having one of those days where the fighting was just endless. My girls are normally best friends and play so well together but there are days where they just fight non stop and I will be the first to admit that it makes me lose my mind.  It was also a day where I was especially cranky with my pregnancy.  I'm just putting it out there.

So after the millionth time that I heard them fighting over toys, I went in their room with a big garbage sack and said "Okay, if you won't quit fighting over your toys - I will just pack them all up and give them to kids who don't have any and will appreciate them".  I wasn't extremely pleasant and I huffed out of their room with a sack of toys that I threw in our garage and went to my bedroom to lay down and just let out a sigh.

And then over the monitor in their room, I heard them talking and at that moment - I felt both very proud of my parenting and very humiliated.

Harper said "I think maybe we need to pray.  Each of us can pray that mommy won't be so mean and will give us our toys back".

And then they each proceeded to pray the sweetest prayers that included "Please make mommy not so mean" (which was the humiliating part and just killed me) and "Please help us be nice and share" and "Please let mommy give our toys back".

But the one thing I was grateful for in that moment was that they were learning.  They were learning that they could turn to God in any moment and share their hearts.

One thing that's so important to me is prayer and I want that to be a intricate part of my children's lives.  I want them to understand the God they are praying to and understand what prayer is.  There is nothing wrong with the little canned poems that kids learn to say "God is good, God is great, let us thank Him for our food.........." and I know they teach kids the basics of praying but they get on my last nerve.  I don't want them to memorize a poem - I want them to know it's a conversation with a REAL GOD.  They wouldn't recite a poem when they wanted to talk to me or their friends, I don't want them reciting poems to God.

So we teach them to tell Him what is on their hearts.  And that may manifest itself into a lot of prayers about grandparents or school or wanting a kitten but as they grow, I hope it becomes a relationship.

We try to do that by not just praying at bed time or meals but when the girls are telling me about something tough like kids not playing with them or being afraid about something at school or even fighting with their sister, I will say "How about we pray about that?" And we just stop and pray.   And they are listening.

I often pray on the way to school for them and one of the things I pray is that "Angels will just surround them and protect them at school" (I know this sounds charismatic especially if you aren't even a believer - but I truly believe God sends angels to be with us and I love the visual it gives me.  I love the song by Chris Tomlin "The God of angel armies is always on my side". )  And now if I don't pray that, Harper will say "Mom, aren't you going to pray for Angels to be with us?" and I've even heard her pray that for others.

They don't fully understand about God and Jesus yet.  I'm 41 and I don't fully understand about God.  But it's not too early to talk about Him and talk to Him.  I have so many adult friends who were raised in the church who will say they don't know how to pray and are terrified to pray out loud.  I want prayer to be just as much as our life as eating meals and breathing.

So I'm grateful that day that they knew to pray for their momma.

And after a little calming down (and praying for patience) and talking to them -
  I did give their toys back. 

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