Before I had kids, I was a daycare preschool teacher. Everyday when the lunch was delivered, the kids were trained to not take a bite before we prayed first. That's always an awesome habit to teach a child, even for small 2 year olds like we were caring for. But the prayer was always the same and actually more of an annoying repetitive song than an actual prayer. You've more than likely heard the "God, our Father" prayer/song.
God our Father God our Father Once again Once again Thank You for our blessings Thank You for our blessings Amen Amen
The song was prayed sang by some who liked to yell it, one boy who always wanted to race thru it and beat the others, and almost always without respect and reverence.
It didn't occur to me at the time that maybe this wasn't ideal, or maybe I didn't care much, because it's just what we did everyday. These kids wanted to eat and singing this daily prayer was the fastest way to get to the goal: a 10 minute moment where all eighteen 2.5 year olds were relatively quiet thanks to full mouths.
Now I have four, about to be five kids of my own. We've prayed everyday, multiple times a day, since Hunter, my oldest, was a toddler. And they've never sang that prayer I encouraged in my preschool teaching days. And I have no desire to teach it to them.
Instead, I've taught my children to simply speak to God however they are lead to. They can say anything, pray as long or as short as they want, and that anything they say is important to Gods ears and heart.
I don't want my kids to treat prayer as another "thing to get thru" or song to memorize. I encourage them to speak to and treat God as what He should be to them, a best friend...THE best friend.
Prayer shouldn't be ritualistic. Prayer shouldn't be rushed thru or done on auto-pilot. Prayer should be thoughtful, purposeful, and authentic. It should be your child's heart connecting with the heart of their Creator.
If you regularly sing your prayers or recite the same short paragraph with your kids everyday, I challenge you to stop. It may take a lot...okay, maybe significantly longer for you to be able to dig into your supper at night or finish your nighttime routine if you have a sweet tiny one that prays for every animal, playground, and ice cream flavor they've ever encountered...but trust me, it'll be worth the extra time.
I absolutely love hearing my children pray outloud...it's one of my proudest moments everyday. Try it. Your children will benefit from learning the importance of true prayer from an early age. Be their example. And leave the little choruses for another time...not prayer time.
Love, Alicia >