My husband and I weren’t sure what to expect when we started praying with our 2 year old before bed. We would start by prompting Margaret to fold her hands and close her eyes. The first few times, she would peek her eyes open and giggle at what she seemed to think was a fun little game. She soon began to sit still while we prayed and would shout, “A-MEN!” when we finished. A week or so ago she started asking to pray herself. She would say, “Dear God,” followed by a bunch of incoherent words, and would finish with an enthusiastic “Amen!” Then, this past Saturday night, something amazing happened.
Margaret asked to pray as usual, but this prayer was powerfully different than any before.
She began, “Dear God, thank you…Mama…Dada…thank you…Laura…”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. She was thanking God for her family. When Margaret finished, I looked up at Jeremy with tears in my eyes. We both stammered, “Amen” and hugged her.
As we walked out of Margaret’s room after putting her to bed, I looked at Jeremy.
“Did she just say what I think she said?”
Jeremy replied, “Yeah, she did.”
I continued, “And her Aunt Laura, too?”
“Yep,” Jeremy smiled.
We were both overjoyed.
I’ve wondered exactly what impact praying with Margaret has. Up until Saturday night, I wasn’t sure she “got it” at all. Slowly, we’ve seen it starting to sink in. No, she doesn’t know exactly who this “God” person is. She certainly doesn’t have an intimate, personal relationship with Christ at only 2 years of age. She doesn’t understand the purpose of prayer or its power in our lives. Nevertheless, prayer has had a powerful impact on our daughter.
Here’s what’s so powerful about praying with our kids:
- It lays a firm foundation for a relationship with Christ
- Without strong prayer lives, Christians can struggle with connecting with the Lord. In modeling prayer from an early age, Margaret becomes familiar with connecting with Jesus through prayer.
- It models gratitude
- We always start our prayers by showing appreciation. Any “asks” we may have come after we have thanked God for how He has moved in our lives. Margaret’s first prayer was one full of gratitude, a core value in our family.
- It’s a way to center ourselves and add stability and predictability to the day
- Life with children is often chaotic and unpredictable. Children thrive with routines and structure. Prayer at the end of a day or at other times during the day brings stability and centers our kids no matter how the day is going.
- It’s a beautiful way for families to connect
- Prayer brings us together as a family to connect with Christ. I feel closer to my husband and daughter during prayer than any other time of day.
It’s never too early (or too late, for that matter) to start praying with your kids. You could pray in the morning, at mealtime, bedtime, or whenever you want to pause as a family to connect with Christ. It may be weird at first. Embrace the weird. Move through it. Take turns allowing different members of the family to lead prayer. You’ll be amazed at what your kids come up with and the way prayer provides a glimpse into their incredibly complex minds. Never underestimate the impact praying together has on your kids. Even if they’re hesitant or reluctant, there are seeds being planted that will one day produce a bountiful harvest in their lives.