Recently, our family was out to eat and, as usual, Brayden led us in prayer before our meal. I say “as usual” because Brayden likes to pray over all of our meals, and if there is more than a minute long break between dinner and dessert, then dessert gets a new prayer. Sometimes, he will let Chris do it, and now Brody wants to lead the charge on occasion, but for the most part, Brayden prays before our meals right now.
It’s not unusual, even in the Bible Belt where we live, to get lots of looks from strangers when we bow our heads over our meal, hold hands and pray in public. Occasionally, someone will make a “that’s so cute” comment. The other day, however, someone asked me how we got Brayden to do that.
I found this question really interesting, because we didn’t get Brayden to do anything. Chris and I always prayed before our meals and at night, we would pray with him and Brody before bed. We often talk to both of our kids about what prayer is and why we pray. Over time, Brayden started asking to lead the prayers and we let him.
At night, the kids recite their memory verses and then they both pray. We encourage them to talk to God about everything; their day, their worries and concerns, their friends, their sins and of course what they are thankful for.
The question I received the other day has been weighing on my mind. Do you ever do things subconsciously? I think we all do, on one level or another. When I was a kid, there was a Pastor at our church who told me I “prayed wrong.” I remember being so upset and embarrassed because he said it in front of a group of kids. I told my parents and I think my Dad had a talk with him about it. Because, really, how can you pray wrong?
After that I had no desire to pray publically, out loud, for all to hear. When Chris and I got married, he always prayed for us before our meals. It wasn’t until Brayden was born and was in the NICU at Arkansas Children’s Hospital that all of this changed for me.
Brayden was incredibly ill, and when he first arrived at ACH, his neonatologists told us there was maybe a 70% chance we would ever be taking him home. When we arrived at our hotel (the hospital is about 4 hours from our house) we decided to pray out loud together. We continued that tradition the whole time Brayden was at ACH and after he came home.
I realized something through that. I now had a son that I wanted to set an example for. Sometimes, our actions speak louder than our words, and Chris and I both wanted him to see prayers being said unashamedly, publically, out loud. So, that is what we do.
So, how do you teach your child to pray? How about teaching them to pray out loud, in public without a second thought?
You set the example.
Jeremiah 29:12 says this:
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
Call on God. Tell Him about your day. Share your heart, your desires, your hopes, your dreams, your fears and your sins with Him. Ask Him for guidance and forgiveness and help.
And when possible, do this in front of your kids.
Because, really, there is no better way to teach them.