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Suffer the Little Children

Bringing Up Your Children to Be Praying Adults.

Having a prayerful attitude in life is something that is learned, not something that just happens. The sooner we start to develop a dialog with Jesus, the more likely it is that we will have a free-flow of communication with Him as a life-long habit.

Start your children early in life talking to Jesus. Here are a few tips and ideas to get you started….

1.    Let your child pray for or about anything. Don’t do anything that conveys to your child that the subject matter of their prayers isn’t worthy. You can do this without even realizing what you’re doing, so be very careful. Don’t tell them with your words or your body language that you disapprove of their prayers. If you feel that your children are praying out of God’s will, gently direct their approach to the subject, rather than trying to alter the subject itself. You can do this by asking your child what they think Jesus might want for them in this situation.

2.    If your child has gotten into a prayer rut – help him climb out! If they quickly run through a list of people every night – ask them to stop with each name and make a specific request, or mention a special praise – “Thank you Jesus for Daddy, and for the game he played with me tonight.”

3.    Be wary of prayer that is always one-sided – all thanks and no concerns, or all concerns and no thanks. Even if things seem really bad, there’s always something to offer praise for – especially praise and thanksgiving that Jesus is always there to hear our prayers. Prayers may be one-sided from time to time, but they shouldn’t always be. Teach your child by example to pray with praise, thanksgiving, and with requests, and make sure they learn to listen for and thank God for the answers they receive.

4.    Start early – If you get into the habit of praying together each night, it will be a habit that your children will carry with them into their teens, and hopefully into their future children’s lives.

5.    Let them hear YOU pray. When your children pray at night, take your turn, too. Out loud.

6.    Model a prayerful life for your children – let them know that you take things in your life to Jesus. That doesn’t mean that you have to include them on each of your prayer sessions – you don’t need to burden your children with every concern you have, but when things come up, let them know that you will be taking things up with God.

7.    Pray on the spur of the moment – When something comes up – pray together with your children about it.

  • Pray about people you see
    Homeless people
    Harried mothers
    People who look burdened
  • Pray for your trips
    Start your trips (even to the grocery store!) by asking for God’s protection for your family
    Don’t forget to thank Him when you arrive home safely.
  • Pray for situations
    Pass an accident? Pray together for God’s intercession
    Pass construction workers? Pray for their safety
    Pass a run-down neighborhood? Lift its children up to the Lord.
    Pass a school? Pray for the teachers and the students.

There is an unending list of prayer opportunities out there. Let your children look for things to pray about – and join in with them whole-heartedly!

8.    Be prepared to take action – Children, especially young ones, have a heightened sense of fairness. Be prepared to respond when you pray for someone. Children have been known to want to take home the homeless and in other ways immediately intervene. Find constructive ways to get your children involved in helping some of the people you are praying for. Here are some ideas:

  • Volunteering at a soup kitchen
  • Collecting clothing and unwanted toys to donate to a charity sponsored thrift shop or directly to the needy
  • Get involved with community and international projects – (such as packing boxes for Kosovo). Use the opportunities to pray for the people you are helping.
  • On Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas, or just for no reason at all, buy a supply of carnations and go with your children to a local nursing home. Ask at the front desk for the names of people who won’t likely receive visitors. Take each person a flower (men like them, too!) Spend a few moments talking with each person – the older people will be greatly blessed – and so will you and your children. Write down the name of each person you visit, and make a point to pray for them by name when you return home.

9.    Pray for your everyday blessings. Do not pass up the opportunity to thank God for a meal or other daily activities and bounty that God presents to you. This includes when you are in a public restaurant. Neglecting to give thanks because you’re in public is tantamount to telling your children you are ashamed of Jesus. You are also providing a public statement of your faith and perhaps giving other families the courage to stand up for Jesus, too.

10.    Be consistent. Your children watch you very carefully. You cannot teach them a never-ending lesson about what is important if what’s important to you changes from day-to-day. Make prayer a priority in your life and theirs, and don’t make excuses to skip prayer time. Jesus always has time for you. Be sure you and your children make time for Him.


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