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Do You Pray With Your Kids?

Prayer with KidsI hope everyone enjoyed a wonderful Easter!

We had a great day visiting our families after attending an inspiring Mass early in the morning.  And we ended the day by putting our kids to bed and saying their nightly prayers with them.

But this was not something new for the Easter holiday.

We have actually developed several “rituals” throughout the day where we share family prayer, and it’s become a cool part of our family dynamic.

What is Easter?

That’s the type of question my 5-year-old son is likely to ask completely out of the blue.

He’s also been known to ask things like, “Where is Jesus?” or “Who is the best: Baby Jesus or God?” or “Why was Jesus on a cross…did it hurt?”

I can tell you that answering these queries from an inquisitive kid is both challenging and really inspiring.

It can be tough to explain things on his terms (or to actually know the answers sometimes), but it’s so cool to know that he feels connected enough with his faith to wonder.

Where Does He Come Up With This Stuff?

If you met us on any given day in real life, I don’t think you would peg our family as an overtly religious or deeply spiritual bunch.

We’re normal folks with all of the typical faults and failings that accompany a busy life in today’s society.  Our kids are generally pretty good, but there are certainly no halos floating above their heads.

This makes me particularly proud to have a young son who asks such deep questions about spirituality.  And it got me thinking about why he may be giving these things so much thought.

We make it a point to attend Mass every Sunday, and we try to speak openly about our faith within our home.  However, I really think that our young children are connecting on a more basic level.

Praying With Our Kids Rocks

I think it’s the prayer.

Again, we do a few basic things as part of our family routine, including the traditional Catholic blessing before our meals at home.

My wife and I also end every night with a visit to our kids’ rooms to say some more traditional prayers over them while they sleep (Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, Prayer of the Guardian Angel).  Of course, they don’t know that. :)

All of that is well and good, and we find it to be very valuable to take these few minutes each day to thank God in a ritual way.

However, I think the real impact for our children comes from the prayer our kids say each night before they go to bed:

Thank you dear God

For Mama and Daddy

And (sister or brother’s name)

And all my Grandmas

And all my Grandpas

And thank you for having a good day.

Amen.

At the end, we usually ask them to think of something specific that they are thankful for that day.  This could be tee-ball, princesses, chocolate or any other thing that looms large in the minds of young kids.

This prayer actually has a bit of history. It was the prayer my wife said each night with her parents when she was growing up.

It had enough of an impact on her that she suggested we adopt it with our own children as soon as they could talk.  And I am so glad that we did.

Do You Pray With Your Kids?

So I’m curious to hear about your experiences with this topic.  You may not be a parent and you may not be religious.  That’s totally fine, but feel free to chime in with any words of wisdom that you may have to share from your own upbringing or from others that you know.

Do you pray with your kids?  What kind of prayers do you say?

Do you think this has had a positive impact on them (and you)?

Photo by Rennett Stowe
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About Dustin

Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.

Comments

  1. We usually have devotions with our children where we read the scripture, ask them what they think it means, explain it to them, tell them how it applies to their lives and then pray with them. They also take turns on alternate days praying before meals and we encourage them to not only mention the meal but at least one other thing.
    .-= Fruitfulvine2´s last blog ..Bible In One Year Edition 2 – #45 =-.

    • I really love this, FruitfulVine2! I love it when comments teach ME so much and inspire me to be a better Christian parent.

  2. Our prayer is a bit longer. My son is not quite a year and I have been saying the same prayer with him since he started sleeping in his own room when he was 3 months old. I say it as I am nursing him because I want to use that time to think good thoughts not let my mind wander to things that are frustrating me or giving me anxiety. It goes like this:

    Dear Jesus, thank you for Mommy, Daddy, and Lucas. Thank you that we are all happy, healthy, and safe, and that we have love in our family, and that we have everything that we need. Thank you for our house, our food, our clothes, daddy’s job, and everything you have given us. Thank for this wonderful day, for the (whatever type of weather we had that day), and for all the happy memories we made today (sometimes more specific here). Thank you for our family and friends, especially (I list grandparents, aunts and uncles, and godparents).

    We pray for people who are sick, people who are poor, people who are lonely or sad, and people who are in danger in any way. Please help them and let them know that You are there. (If I have a specific intention like a sick relative I say it here.) We ask that you protect us and our home as we sleep tonight. Give us a good night’s sleep so that can make more happy memories again tomorrow. Thank you again God for Mommy, Daddy, and Lucas, and keep us safe as we sleep tonight. Amen.

    Then I follow with Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.

    • This is awesome, Marie! I really like how you include praying for others (outside of your immediate family) in your nightly ritual. This is something we need to incorporate. I was not raised in a religious setting (at all), so I’m still learning! ;)

  3. Also, as he gets older and can talk, he will be the one saying the prayer so it will most likely get shorter and more specific to him. I just like to make sure we pray for others not just ourselves so I am trying to instill that early!

  4. At bedtime, I ask my daughter for two good things that happened during the day. I then start the prayer and she finishes it by thanking God for her two things along with her mommy, daddy and sister. I like to think this teaches her to be grateful and prayerful. In addition, it lets me model prayer for her.
    .-= Jeff@MySuperChargedLife´s last blog ..Make Your Life Extraordinary: Three Questions to Ask =-.

    • Excellent example, Jeff! I think so many people think that it’s a church’s job to instill spirituality and faith in their children. However, just like education, it starts and depends primarily on what is being modeled at home.

  5. We do pray each night. “Thank you God. Bless my family, Mommy, Daddy, Corbin and Hawkeye” Then we add in someone who might need some extra prayers (sick, Haiti, new babies). She likes to go on and on and on and I’ll be honest, I do end it after a little while and say she can keep going because God is listening!

    • I love it, Tori! And I like how you are throwing the pets into the mix. We don’t pray for our cat, but some days she could use it! ;)

      • Oh, it wasn’t my idea. It was Reagan’s. :) She still prays for our cat that we got rid of over a year ago. “and bless K.C. in her new home.”

  6. i want to have short talks/prayers at the end of every day and talk about our day, what we are thankful for, and then end with prayer.. but Lucas isn’t talking yet so we haven’t started.

    When did you start praying with your kids? Before dinner and bed?

    We don’t pray before dinner very often, we need to be better about that :(
    .-= Samantha @ Mama Notes´s last blog ..I Don’t Feel Pregnant (Update & Link Yours!) =-.

    • We have always said prayers “over” our kids while they are sleeping, but we started having them participate in their own “kiddie prayer” before bed once they could talk. In hindsight, I’d probably start this earlier once they can (sort of) comprehend what you are doing. I think it’s a healthy practice to start modeling prayer and thanksgiving to God even for babies.

      Our prayer before dinner is the traditional Catholic food blessing, which is not interactive and doesn’t change day-to-day. It’s a moment to stop and simply give thanks for our meal.

  7. Kids are so amazing; they are such blessings to us. I think it’s important at different times in the day to help your kid pray, through repetition when they are little, and at other times in the day to model prayer for them by praying your personal prayers aloud. When you model a prayer, you let them know about your relationship with God, both in your reverence/praise/thanks and dependence on His power to affect the world around you as you request things in prayer like healing/comfort/wisdom in decisions.

    Learning to pray is definitely a developmental process, much like learning to speak, where your child will mature through both practice and watching your example. Like your son’s questions, my children have such fresh takes on everything, and I enjoy being close to their purity and enthusiasm. At this point, my five year-old will pray at the drop of a hat, sometimes asking God for the usual things (help Grandpa get better, thank you for the Bible, etc), and sometimes asking God for answers to factual questions (God, where do zebras live? I want to know, In Jesus name, Amen), and sometimes asking for things that I’m not sure are in God’s plan for the day (Dear God, Please make it stop raining right now, etc.). But, I would rather have a kid who goes to God too much than too little!

    • Thanks, Wendy. I always love seeing your Facebook updates with Calvin-isms…he is one deep thinker!

      You always leave such killer comments, and I learn so much from them. Have you considered starting your own blog? I think something in the Christian Mom niche would be right up your alley! :)

      • Wendy R says:

        Ha, thanks for the compliments, Dustin! I would say the biggest setbacks from starting my own blog are a) how far behind I am on my personal blog, b) watching my grammar–when I comment on someone else’s blog, less scrutiny :), and c) it does take dedication and fresh ideas. I admire your dedication, because it must not be easy to come up with new blog topics regularly. Additionally, sometimes topics dealing with families and marriage stir up controversy, even when you didn’t intend for that to be the result, and the refereeing afterward could also be stressful/time-consuming.

        Can’t rule it out someday, though. Keep up the good work here at EM!

  8. Esther @ Purpose, Passion, Purity says:

    Dustin, this was a wonderful article, and brought back great memories from childhood.

    I don’t have children of my own yet, but growing up my mom always did family devotions with my two brothers and me (my father died when we were really young). We would read a chapter from a Christian book (like Pilgrim’s Progress, then we would pray for Christians around the world who were being persecuted (using a prayer calendar from a mission we support)and then each night one of us would pray for whatever we felt to pray for.

    When we were really young, Mom would come into each of our rooms and pray with us individually. I loved this special “mommy time” so much that one night when she forgot to come pray with me I stood at my door and cried until she came to pray with me!

    We also read from “Our Daily Bread” devotional in the morning at breakfast, and Mom would pray for us every day before school. She prayed that God would give us all “Wisdom, knowledge, understanding and problem-solving abilities.” It worked! We all got good grades!

    It sounds like a lot of devotion and prayer time, but looking back, it shows me how much my Mom cared about us and desired that we all know God intimately. I definitely want to continue this tradition with my own family.
    .-= Esther @ Purpose, Passion, Purity´s last blog ..10 Ways to Change His Answer from “Yes, Dear” to “Sure Dear!” Part III =-.

    • Wow Esther, your story really touched me. It is clear that your Mom cared so much about you and your brothers, and it is so cool that she made the effort to feed your spirituality in such special ways. I’m sure it played a large role in shaping the good person you’ve become today!

  9. Elizabeth says:

    Along with establishing a set bedtime routine for my two year old, I am also working on making prayer a regular practice at bedtime. We start with the sign of the cross and say a short prayer from a children’s book. Like others mentioned above, we then talk a little bit about the good things that happened during the day. It is difficult to keep him focused but I hope with regular practice that will come. Surprisingly, working on establishing a regular prayer practice for my child has also caused me to think about how I can improve my own.

    • That’s fantastic, Elizabeth! Personally, I like it when our little ones lose focus…that’s when they say the most memorable, funny and insightful things!

  10. You know, I used to say prayers each night before my bed time along a similar vein when I was a young girl. But somehow that practice hasn’t translated on to my own kids and it should. It might be because I only recently have started my true ‘walk with God’ and I’m still finding my legs so to speak. Not sure, but definitely something for me to consider and examine more deeply. Thanks for the great, thought provoking post!

    Warm regards,
    C

    • Thanks for your contribution, Cori! I’m excited to hear you’ve rediscovered your faith, and I can totally relate to taking some time to find your “legs on your walk with God.” I’m so happy to have you as part of the community here at Engaged Marriage, and it’s cool that this post impacted you if even in a little way.

  11. What a sweet little prayer! I will have to teach it to Hudson when he gets older.

  12. I read an article the other day by Dr. Michele Borba that noted that our kids are most receptive to us five minutes before they go to sleep. Saying a bedtime prayer, discussing the events of the day, telling our kids something we like or appreciate about them — these are all things that can help to strengthen the bond that we feel with them.

    In our household, we still say the majority of bedtime prayers (our kids are 6 and 3), but it’s mostly because our kids enjoy the heartfelt prayers we offer up on their behalf before they go to sleep. We make sure to recap their favorite things from the day, address any concerns they have in life, and ask that they be blessed. It’s a way to show our kids how much we pay attention to the things that excite them throughout the day, and the little challenges they encounter daily.

    We still get them involved though – we rotate prayers at meals and we have them do the bedtime prayer at least once weekly.
    .-= Eppie @ Better Parenting´s last blog ..Parenting a Sensitive Child =-.

    • Excellent insight, Eppie! I totally agree that our kids seem to really listen to us best at bedtime. They are (usually) calmed down and comfortable, and I can definitely see that this would be prime time for them to be receptive to our words. I also like to think the prayer time gives them a little more restful sleep and something positive to dream about.

      By the way, I love your site!

  13. Our son is too young to comprehend a long prayer and ask questions about prayer time, but we have a short prayer we say every night before bedtime. We also add some special requests if we have family members or friends who are ill or are in our thoughts for some other reason.

    One of our main goals as parents is to establish consistency and routine in our son’s life, and it is never too early to start good habits like a night time prayer.
    .-= Tim´s last blog ..Budgeting =-.

    • Thanks, Tim! I couldn’t agree more that building in a consistent routine is vital, even when our children are infants. Kids crave consistency in their lives, and I think integrating some healthy spirituality is really key.

  14. Man o man, I am so excited to have found this blog!

    We pray with our 2 year old (and have since he moved into his own room)
    We usually pray the ” Now I lay me down to sleep…” prayer and then a more personalized prayer. my little guy always loves to remind us to pray… he says don’t forget to say “Dear Jesus!” We usually pray for patience for mommy, wisdom for daddy and understanding for Bastian (he has a 3 month old little brother now)
    When we give him time in the end of our prayer to add things, he usually says nonsense things like “God bless my pillow and my blanket and my curtains…” but I think we are getting there!!

    Again, I am pumped about this blog!!

    • Man o man, I am excited to have you here, Nikk! I like the wisdom and patience prayers…I could certainly use the grace of patience some days. :)

      Again, welcome to the community here at Engaged Marriage! If you happen to read this comment, would you mind sharing how you found this blog?

  15. I have so loved reading comments to your article which has been very eye opening by the way. Some have left me laughing so hard, and others touched me deeply.
    My 6yr old son and I pray together before meals, and before bedtime, although he prefers to sleep on the couch first. Lately he insists on praying more, and prefers if I dont pray after or before he does, which makes him feel that his prayers are good enough for God to listen to. The most interesting thing is that he has nailed “thankfulness” in his prayer. He will always be thanking God for the food on the table, for the day, the night, the day tomorrow, his exams…. basically everything. I am trying to introduce all other aspects of prayer slowly, especially the prayer for forgiveness and repentance. That is how I got here to your site, I was googling praying for and with our kids. Love your site!

  16. I’m actually shuddering at these comments. I don’t plan on forcing any religious beliefs on my child. Shame on these parents.

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