Toddler prayers

dylan loves to pray. if we’ve sat down and forgotten to say grace, (or if she feels that once isn’t sufficient,) she’ll reach out her hands, bow her head low, and implore, “pray?”

at bedtime, after prayers, sometimes the child just wants a little more face time with Jesus.

“pray?” she’ll ask.

“we just prayed, baby. what else do you want to pray for?”

“pray?”

sometimes, then, she’ll add the names of horses or summer staff, and we’ll offer up a little blessing on their behalf. tonight, it went a little something like this:

“pray?”

“ok, i’ll say, ‘thank you God,’ and then you say what you want to thank God for. thank you God for…”

and dylan whispered, “hotdogs.”

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toddler prayers

“The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”                                                                                ― Søren Kierkegaard

Amay-May.

These are the words we hear from our toddler several times a day.  We will be driving in the car and she begins to say these words and say a name of a person. This is Averi’s version of amen.  She loves to pray, well she really loves to hear Jessika and I pray.  We started praying as a family every night when we she started sleeping in her own room instead of ours.  I would pray for her and our family, and at the end of the prayer she started saying amay-may.  She was just copying Jessika and I who would say that each night.  However, this eventually evolved into her wanting to pray for her uncles, aunts, grandparents, and anyone who was close to her.  We would simply ask her who she would want to pray for and she would name a family member.

Lately however she has started to not just pray for those who are close to her but also anyone that we ran into that day.  She prays for friends, family, high school mascots, and strangers. It doesn’t matter if we talked to someone for a minute or we hung out with them for hours, Averi is going to pray for them. If you have ever met Averi, then more than likely you have been prayed for.  Now she doesn’t always pray for just people sometimes she prays for her stuffed animals and other random things (hats, socks, the color pink), but she wants to pray for people/things that she came across that day.

This has really impacted my prayer life in watching my daughter, who doesn’t understand prayer or who we are talking to, or why we pray.  She prays never for herself, but those that she sees and knows.  My prayers mainly consist of my family and my problems.  I rarely venture out into specific people that aren’t in my inner circle, but Averi has taught me that everyone needs prayer. (Duh)

The amazing thing about praying for everyone that I come into contact with is that I’m thinking about prayer all day.  I’m thinking about God and in turn this has helped my faith and prayer life grow stronger.  I begin to see people that I come across as people that need the hope that I have in Christ.  I see people who are hurting, happy, broken, in need, etc., and this challenges me to actually care for people and not just my selfish wants or needs. I’m challenging myself to see people, empathize with people, to look at people the way that God looks at his sons and daughters.  I come across many people every day, the cashier at the gas station, people at Walmart, workers at the donut store (I like donuts a lot, it’s becoming a problem.  I might need help.). These people need love and prayer and I have the ability to give them that.

My hope is that one day I can care and pray for people like my two year old daughter does.

Steps I’m taking today:

  1. Writing down names of people that I come into contact with so that I remember to pray for them.
  2. Setting aside time in my prayer time for those people.
  3. Looking for people that I can talk to and seeing every conversation as an opportunity to pray for that person.
  4. Letting people know when I do pray for them, this can be very encouraging to people.
  5. Setting an alarm to pray for people throughout the day.  I’m forgetful!

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Note: Averi is not praying per se in that picture but she is still pretty cute!

How do you view prayer? What are your struggles with prayer? What are some steps that you can take to pray for others?

Let me know what you think by commenting below or engaging with me on Facebook or Twitter! If you like what you read feel free to share this post.

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Praying with Your Toddler

With our busy schedules, it is hard to find time to have all the family together. My husband and I decided that we would at least try to have family prayer before bed with our children.

The kids and I also have morning prayer, prayer before meals, and they pray at church.

How to Get Started

When the kids were just infants, we began just having family prayer in front of them so they could see this is what mommy and daddy do. We also would had them in our laps and hold their hands together for them. At first, they didn’t like this, sitting still and having to be quiet for a long period of time.

After a while, my daughter began doing it on her own. She would see that it was time to pray and hold her hands together. Now she didn’t do it the entire time, but it was a start.

We then learned a prayer primary song in church that works wonderfully for keeping them quiet and in position the entire time during prayer.

What to Pray About

When we started praying with the kids, we just prayed what we would usually pray as adults. This did make them bored and restless because their language development wasn’t as strong as ours. So I began “translating.” We still prayed what we would pray, but after each sentence I would bring it down to their level. If my husband would say, “Lord please forgive us for our sins and help us to follow the example Christ set for us,” I would say, “God we are sorry for our no no’s, please help us be good girls and good boys like Jesus.”

How Long to Pray

We try to do a normal length prayer so the kids can learn patience, discipline, and train them for praying in church. However, if our children are extremely restless or cranky, we will shorten it.

toddler prayers

Allowing Your Child to Pray

It doesn’t take long for your children to want to mimic the prayers themselves. At first they may just be speaking gibberish, but let them. This is their beginning communication with God, and we should encourage them to speak with him-not tell them to quiet down while the real prayer is being said. Even if you are in mid sentence-let them speak. There are times when my children say “let’s pray” and we do. We let them say their prayer, and if they don’t say anything we say a short “We love you Jesus, Amen.”

Using Prayer to Avoid Bedtime

Once my child caught on that she had to sleep after she prayed, suddenly she was filled with the Holy Spirit and wanted to pray over and over for looong periods of time. I did not want to discourage her from praying so we allowed her to pray a few times, until it gets to the point of being ridiculous. Then we say, “It is time for bed, but we can talk to Jesus again tomorrow. If you really need to talk more with Him now you can pray in your bed after mommy and daddy say goodnight.”

Have Patience

Sometimes kids are just not in the mood to sit still, but it is important to reinforce and be consistent. Once they see that prayer is expected and they cannot get away with messing around during prayer, they won’t, and they grow to enjoy prayer time. If they become restless during prayer in church, it is understandable to leave the sanctuary or children’s training room. I try not to let my children play or get out of my arms is they are misbehaving, because it just shows them that if they act up in church they get to leave and have fun.

Live By Example

As long as you are consistently showing them that you are praying, they should eventually pick it up on their own. Our children learn from our actions on how to live their own lives. Showing them that it is important to you will eventually raise curiosity in them to want to learn more about prayer.

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