There are 4 things you can’t make a child do: (these are in no particular order and occur at no particular age):
1. Eat or not eat.
3. Use the bathroom (Yep, I went there. My husband’s a pediatrician. It’s the #1 cause of belly pain most of the time.)
Pray? Yep, I went there, too.
It seems strange that prayer with kids is included in that list, but it honestly belongs there. Everything else eventually happens because God has designed us in such a way that we can’t ignore the physical need to do any of them.
By the way, 3 out of 4 of those items can be done as a family. I think we get into a place of thinking that family prayer only happens at the dinner table to thank God that someone (ok, me) made dinner. But if we can extend that time or add different dimensions to the dinner table, or bedtime routines than it provides opportunities for praying with our kids.
I have struggled encouraging my children TO MAKE THE CHOICE to pray. I have no idea when or if they do. That bothers me deeply. I have learned to accept that only God knows their hearts and when they have been sincere in their prayer.
I am a huge fan of memorized prayer with kids. I’m Roman Catholic, it’s part of tradition to have several prayers in “your back pocket” for emergency and regular use. Kids can have a hard time structuring their prayers. Adults, too! Reciting these beautiful words written by super holy folks, used for centuries by millions of people brings kids into a community of believers instantly. Check out the Divine Office App that lets kids see who is using the app with ancient prayers and where they are all over the world.
Prayer is the glue that will help our kids make the faith that is taught to them.
Our intentional teaching is the only thing that we can really control in the end. God will take care of the rest when we are obedient. He promises us that when…
“The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.” Psalm 34:17
As moms we can hold onto this as we try to make prayer happen with our kids.