It is a beautiful moment when we witness the children of God place their hands together in prayer, close their eyes, exhale, and be still for those well-needed solemn moments. It is a relief to know today’s youth can still find peace in sharing their intimate words and feelings with God. As adults, we never truly let go of a yearning to pray together as a family. While it has the propensity to bond us together, it also fulfills the need for a feeling of belonging and greater purpose. It is important that children watch as our hands come together, and listen as the confident words of thankfulness, appreciation, and the blessing of others are spoken out loud. Of course, they are listening to the presentation and wording. In this season of Thanksgiving, we can help our children continue to feel comfortable in their own words and expressions.
Talking to a Friend?
“Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” ~ Matthew 18:20
In those momentous occasions when a child is carefree, or the problems seem too great to convey in words, prayer can help. A daughter or son may demur, “But, Mom, I don’t know what to say.” The response is honest. The simple truth is, a prayer to God is not formal. It is similar to a conversation with our best friend, who provides both support and help. Is a comfort to voice silently or openly words of thankfulness and gratitude, a request for someone else, or a need for guidance. Families who come together can aid with support and understanding, and work together by talking through problems.
An Unexpected Discovery
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” ~ Jeremiah 33:3
Jenna Sheridan writes, “Our daughter went through a period when she felt there was little to pray for, until she was guided to realize she could be thankful for everything that surrounded her. This included the people in her life and favorite things. Our time of nightly prayer created an outlet for open conversation when she was troubled or had questions. I am constantly amazed at my daughter’s heart and the beautiful words that she can express for her family, friends, and our aged dog. By praying with my daughter, she has helped me discover a greater purpose. I am now listening and finding a new spiritual strength beside her.”
Starting a New Tradition
“Lord, teach us to pray.” ~ Luke 11:1
In this season of gratitude and thanksgiving, families can introduce a creative way to foster prayers.
- On an index card, write the name of someone special, or attach a photo. Each day choose one card to lift a name in prayer.
- Choose a day of the week to thank God for the best part of the day. (Young children may want to show a crayon illustration and explain each aspect of the drawing, while older children may chose to write or type thoughts in advance.)
- Hand prayers are an interesting way to combine creativity and prayer. After drawing your hand, use each digit to emphasize praise, thankfulness, and/or a request for help.
The Rev. Jamie L’Enfant Edwards, Rector, of St. Clement’s Episcopal Church in Clemmons writes, “For families of faith, prayer is not only an essential component, but also a surprising experience; sometimes, the youngest members offer the greatest wisdom. As in any relationship, our words to God should contain honesty about feelings, concern for others, apologies for wrongdoing, and polite requests. Parents teach their children how to ‘play nice with others,’ and, likewise, parents teach their children how to form their prayers to God. Children are already close to God! Young children have an innate creativity and spirituality, which enables them to live in a state of greater connectedness to God than many adults. (A good bit of adult spirituality is spent trying to get back to that state of wonder, love, and joy.) So when it comes to family and prayer, everyone—young and old alike—has something to teach and something to learn, an important reminder of how God works through us all.”
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