Teaching Children to Pray
I would visit my grandparent's home in Canada as a small child. This is how they did family prayer. They set the table with the dishes face down, all knelt beside their chairs, chose one person to pray, sat up, turned their plates over and began the meal. I was very impressed by this and it has been my ideal.
I have never been able to make it happen like that.
But it doesn't matter how you do family prayer.
What matters is that you just DO it!.
Prayer brings the feeling into your home.
Mosiah 18:21 talks about "having their hearts knit
together in love, one towards another." That sounds
good. I'd like that.
And substitute "family" for "land" in this
scripture - "And there was no contention in all the
family because of the love of God which did dwell in
the hearts of the people." 4 Nephi 15 How beautiful to
have that describe your home.
I was very surprised when teaching my first little son about Jesus and prayer, that this was something he recognized and remembered, not something new he was learning for the first time. The scriptures call this recognition of spiritual things "the light of Christ which lighteth every man that cometh into the world" D&C 93:2
Every child has this in a greater or lesser degree. It is a quality that grows dimmer or brighter as they grow.
Prayer makes the light of Christ brighter.
So teaching a child to pray is very important and very beautiful.
Make bed time one of those peaceful, lovely times in the day, not a stressful time. We all know this doesn't happen magically. Plan on it taking half to one hour. You can do more than one child at a time. We cuddle, talk and have a story. I purposely save energy for this time and try not to rush it. And yeah, I do sometimes fall asleep before the children...
Just before their prayer, have them say a scripture - the same one every night for a month so they know it well and those beautiful words are running through their little minds. I like to use "children " scriptures such as :
"And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord and great shall be the peace of thy children." Isaiah 54: 13
"The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." Romans 8 : 16
"And He took their little children, one by one, and blessed them and prayed unto the Father, for them." 3 Nephi 17: 21
"And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ and we prophecy of Christ.....that our children may know." 2 Nephi 25: 26
After this, have them repeat their prayer after you. Always ask them what they would like to pray for - what they are grateful for, who they would like to bless. Begin with, "Dear Heavenly Father" and end with, "In the name of Jesus Christ, amen." At some point they will want to say it by themselves.
If they need it, I sit beside them as they fall asleep. So bedtime is a calm, happy time when they feel my love and they feel God's love.
I remember as a small child, my mother having me repeat my prayers and she would always include "bless me to be a good girl". I have always had a strong desire to be a good girl and I'm sure it started in these prayers. Prayers with my mother made me feel thankful and loved and protected.
Prayer brings the feeling to all these wonderful things we teach our children. So they know it in their minds and feel it in their hearts.