One day, when my youngest daughter was probably 4 1/2, I heard her mumbling in her room. Since I had just reprimanded her for something, I assumed that she was mumbling something unflattering. I asked her what she was doing. She looks up at me with her big, blue eyes, and says "I was talking to God." Well, then, carry on.
My 4-year-old daughter didn't have any trouble grasping the idea that she can talk to God anytime, anywhere--even if it is just to tell Him how unfair you think your mommy is. Somehow, as we get older, we lose that innate desire to talk to God about everything. The Bible tells us that God wants a relationship with us. The more we talk with God and listen to Him, the closer our relationship will be and the more we will resemble Christ.
Helping our children hang on to their initial desire to tell God everything is an important way to instill in them that God wants to talk to them about anything, anywhere, at any time. Make talking to God fun, and remind your kids to take all their problems to God.
- Give younger children a play phone or an old cell phone. They can decorate it with stickers or Sharpie markers. This is their God phone. Explain that we don't need a phone to talk with God, but that the phone is a reminder of the fact that we can talk to God just like we can talk to each other. Place the phone someplace where your child can see it and use it if they want.
- Create a prayer jar. Give each child a mason jar. They can decorate the jar with stickers, markers, ribbon and paper. Tell your children when they have something they want to pray about, they should write it on a slip of paper and place it in the jar as they pray about it. This gives them a tangible way of placing a problem in God's hands and a tangible reminder that we should take everything to God.
- Model praying at any time and any place. When you are struggling with something, stop and pray out loud. If you see something that you can cover in prayer when you are out shopping, stop and pray with your kids, whether it's another family you see having a tough time or someone who has been injured.
- Read some of the Psalms together. Point out that David was in a lot of different places and a lot of different circumstances, yet in all of them he talked to God. No matter where he was or what he was feeling, David talked to God about it.
Make prayer an integral part of your and your children's lives. The goal is to make prayer second nature for both us and our children. We want to be like a 4-year-old who doesn't even question that you can and should talk to God all the time. Help your kids remember that God is there 24 hours a day, seven days a week--no matter where we are.
Tomorrow we'll look at the What of prayer. What should we encourage our kids to pray about?