Monday, October 8, 2012

teaching toddlers theology :: day 8 teach me to pray

 This is Day 8 in a 31 day series on Teaching Toddlers Theology. To catch up on where we've been, or view our menu of posts, go to this intro post.

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This past weekend I shared about the command in Deuteronomy 6 to "impress [God's commands] on our children." We are told to impress them purposefully and to develop our home and lifestyle around them! We are to surround our children with the Lord constantly! There are so many ways to do this, and in the coming days I want to share many with you that I've implemented into our lives, but I'd love for you to share what you do, as well, so we can all learn from each other.

As parents, we teach by example. We know this because this is how we teach many things to our kids. But it's the same with prayer. Our kids will learn to pray by observing us and hearing our prayers! I pray the way I'd like my son to learn to pray. I'm careful to have a spirit of thankfulness when I pray, especially in front of Titus, instead of developing a view of God and prayer as a genie in a lamp who's here to grant all his wishes. I also pray the spiritual things I most want him to grasp in hopes that it's another medium for him to hear it. Praying the attributes of God, and basically giving the Gospel when I pray are ways I do this.

Prayer starts with them observing, and then it continues with their own repeated prayers. Then they begin to branch out and pray on their own. It's a joy now to hear Titus' prayers, most of which revolve around listing the things he did, ate, watched that day, praying for a person or two, and then thanking for "Jesus die on the cross for us" and "Jesus is with us!" Those two have stuck and that's what he repeats and prays for. {Side Note: There have been days when I'm having a difficult day and I'm frustrated with Titus. I'll try to rush through our prayer time, but when he prays those two things, I'm convicted by my attitude. Hearing his little voice talk about Jesus, my perspective changes and I'm reminded of what really matters.}

The moments before prayer I usually prepare him for it by getting him to think about what he'd like to pray for. I try to use these times to help his view of God by phrasing my questions specifically. Instead of "What do you want to pray for?", I try to ask "What can we thank God for?" Or "who should we pray for?" or "What has Jesus done for us?" And then he prays about it!

However, there have been times that he doesn't want to pray and I've been unsure of how to handle it. I don't ever want to force him to pray, but I also don't want him to think that he can always get out of prayer simply because he doesn't want to. I want to teach him that he can, and should, always come to God even when he doesn't feel like it, that he can always talk to God about what's going on in his life, and that there's always something to be thankful for! I remember one night he said he didn't want to pray. I was taken aback at first, but then I just said, "Well, I'd like for you to pray. Let's think of one thing that we can thank God for and you pray about that." That was the first time he said, "Jesus die on the cross for us" and "Jesus is with us!" Those have become his two main phrases in prayer now, and ones he reminds me of throughout the day!

We've built in alot of times for prayer in our days, mainly at mealtimes and nap/bedtimes. Developing prayer time into our everyday schedule is how we can follow the Deuteronomy 6 command to 
"Talk about them when you sit at home 
and when you walk along the road, 
when you lie down 
and when you get up."

How do you implement prayer into your everyday parenting?

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