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!