Saturday, August 23, 2008

Prayers

I grew up in a very loving, stable environment, but we did not attend church as a family, nor did we discuss faith within our home. All of my Christian education came from the church I attended with my grandmother beginning after my grandparents' divorce and the influence of other adults in my community. In many regards, raising my young children to speak of Christ so freely has been a lesson in flying blind. I think this is one reason I am prone to overthink so many decisions in parenting.

I want desperately for my children to know and feel God's incredible love for them. I must confess one of my biggest fears is that that my children will grow up hearing all of this 'religious talk' and it will become rote and stale rather than a vibrant, healthy, growing relationship with God. I want them to not just witness mine and my husband's faith, but to each cultivate one of their very own.

As a result of this concern, I have found myself feeling frustrated by our bedtime prayers lately. We are stuck in a rut with the children thanking God for the same exact thing every night. R thankful for his lovey, K, her family and P says Mommy & Daddy. It is like it is an extension of the memorized routine we repeat each night.

Although we have historically prayed over each of them as we tuck them in, I decided last week to start encouraging them to pray their own prayers. I hoped they would start to realize they could just converse with God freely and it was not a part of our 'routine.' It hasn't changed much...until tonight when P said,

"De-ya God, thank you for me and my family. Thank you that you love me no matter what I do and you have everything I need. In Jee-sus name, Amen."

I almost cried. To hear my 4 year old beginning to grasp some of who God is, in a way that he can then articulate in his own words--in a prayer of thanksgiving and praise no less-- is an incredible gift from God.

The first prayer I ever remember praying was as a 10 year old. I memorized "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" from a plaque on a bedroom wall during a sleepover. Whenever I felt like I wanted to 'connect' with God I would recite it. I didn't understand I could simply speak my heart to God.

God's love is a powerful mystery. He worked in my life even through that memorized prayer. He tenderized my heart and drew me unto Himself. Twenty-five years later, God is working in my little man's life. He is already wooing P with his love. What a beautiful, moving thing!

10 comments:

Carrie said...

Hi there. I don't comment much, but I read your blog frequently!

We have a 5yo and had a similar frustration with rote prayers. We now kind of attack it from three angles:
At "circle time" in the mornings (homeschool), we talk about prayer needs, write them down in our book, and then I pray over the needs.
At meal times, she draws a "prayer stick" from the cup we keep on the table. (Just popsicle sticks with each of our frequent needs/people to remember on them...one for each grandparent, etc.). DH prays over one, I pray over one, and she prays over one.
At bedtime, sometimes she prays and sometimes DH or I pray for her--whoever tucks her in.

Just thought I'd pass it on in case any of it was of use!

Jawan said...

JMom, Maybe this article will encourage you as it did me. http://trevinwax.com/2008/08/12/bedtime-prayers-with-our-children/

Btw, I love living in Columbus. It's become my home. I'm glad you have fond memories of your childhood here.

Kim said...

I must delurk to say that I can totally relate to you.... Having not grown up with faith in our home, I feel so insecure in how to instill a heritage of faith in my children. I have been legalistic at times. I have been concerned about their prayers & if they are "getting it".

But, then even in these young years... they will share a thought, a prayer, a question that lets me know that they really are "getting it". And, I'm so thankful.

You mentioned a book on your blog a while back ~ "Sacred Parenting" by Gary Thomas ~ that I'm reading now.... And I'm reminded that I can continue to grow in my faith as a parent. That I'm not expected to be "perfect" in that way. That loving Jesus & then loving my children in that same way, will guide them in their own faith journey.

Thanks so much for your blog! You are such an inspiration!!!

Michelle said...

J,
I just bought my almost 3 year old a book at Target that is a 5 minute devotional for kids. It is upstairs and I can't remember the correct title, but it was in the children's book section. Hard bound, thin with spirals. It has animal stories that each tie in with God's word. I really like it.

Michelle

Missy said...

Coming from a family that was also not religious I totally understand. I have found the comfort of God's love in the past few years and want nothing less than that for my little girl. This post was wonderful.

Kim said...

How beautiful! Your prayer for your children is the same as mine for The Bean. I appreciate you sharing the thought and purpose you put into what you do as a parent. It helps me do the same in my life.

http://ispeakbeanish.wordpress.com

k and c's mom said...

What a precious picture of God's spirit reaching out to your little ones as they take their first "steps" in prayer. Just wait! It is about to become amazing. My favorite prayers when my children were little was when repentance hit them and I learned things I did not know like "God, forgive me for 'minking' C in the head when no one was looking." I'm still not sure what 'minking' was, but it apparently didn't happen anymore! They will come to know the Spirit of God in so many ways through their innocent prayers.

Jennifer @ Taking My Time said...

I too remember a plaque of the same prayer in my friend's room. You just brought back a childhood memory for me :)

Room for Grace said...

I could have written almost every word in this post (up to P's precious prayer).
We are parenting in a different way than either of us was brought up, and want our kids to have a real, vibrant faith in a God they know intimately.
Our kids are 8, 5, and 2 - and I have had that same experience after hearing our kids pray...amazing! What a blessing! Lately, it's been hearing our barely 2 year old sing "Jesus loves me" or "He's got the world in His hands" and getting all excited when she puts her name in and says "Jesus LOVES Piper!". She is adopted (China), and it thrills me to know that at 2, she already knows Jesus' name.
It is a beautiful, moving thing indeed.

R said...

i agree, this is a challenge! i come from a similar situation in that i had no influences in my life to point me to God. but my husband did. but he's not the one home with the children all day, it's me. which makes me feel like i have soooo much responsibility on my shoulders! and it's hard not having experience to go on as an example.

so i just pray! but i want to make sure i'm attune to all of the opportunities God lays before me to speak to my children through me.