Today’s article was first published on SallyCressman.com. A big thanks to Sally for posting this and other articles that provide insight and inspiration on the topic of prayer! Be sure to check out her blog, Little Big Prayers, and other resources through the link above.
My late grandmother was a great spiritual mentor in my life. We had wonderful talks about God and faith, but it was the way she modeled that faith that had the biggest impression on me.
One of the most important spiritual disciplines my grandmother modeled was a continual prayer life. Every morning, she would step outside and say, “Lord, what a beautiful day! Thank you for the cool morning and for the birds chirping.” Not to be deterred, if it was raining, she’d say, “Lord, thank you for the rain! Let it wash away the pollen and water all the flowers.” When driving to the store, she would say, “Lord, keep us safe and help us find a good parking spot.” If she saw a homeless man, she would say, “Lord, help him to have enough food today and to find shelter tonight.”
By speaking simple prayers out loud, Grandma taught me several important lessons about God, and she encouraged me to seek God in prayer. If we can model this same behavior, we can easily teach these lessons to our own kids and encourage them to pray throughout the day.
1. God is always present
We don’t have to wait until church, mealtime, or bedtime to pray. We can connect with God anywhere and at any time. He is always with us and always eager to speak with us.
2. God loves us and cares about our daily lives
If something is important to us, it’s important to God because we are His children. We can thank Him for the smallest blessing and we can ask Him for help with the smallest problem. Nothing is too small—or too big—for our God.
3. We are loved
Want your little one to feel like he really matters? Thank God for him—for his sweetness, his laughter, his helpfulness, his good nature, etc. There’s nothing like hearing your mother thank God for you!
4. We should love others
Children are naturally self-centered. When your child hears you pray for others, he’ll become aware that other people have needs, too. He’ll also learn to exercise compassion, an important element in the spiritual discipline of acts of service.
These are big, important lessons for little kids—but don’t over-think the process! You don’t have to get on your knees, close your eyes, or say anything formal. Just speak out loud what’s already on your heart:
Thank you, Lord, for hot cocoa on a cold day!
Lord, thank you for the opportunity to spend the day with my little boy!
Lord, please help us get all of this work done today.
Whenever your child brings a concern to you, show him how to take it to God immediately:
Lord, please help Robert with his game today.
Lord, please help Johnny’s friend get over his cold in time for the party this weekend.
Jesus, please heal our dog, Rover.
It may feel awkward at first to pray out loud in front of someone else, but keep doing it. You’ll be encouraged when your simple prayers are answered, when peace begins to replace stress in your home, and—especially—when your little one begins to pray out loud on his own.
I will always cherish the precious things that Grandma shared with me through her spoken prayers. Your children will appreciate hearing your heart, as well. Start praying simple prayers out loud today and help your little ones develop a habit of continual prayer.
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“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NAS).
For 10 Tips to help you share your faith with your children, download my free eBook, Big God, Little You.