Prayer

Prayer is a conversation with God. It can be spontaneous, brief, or prolonged. It may include memorized prayers or simply sharing and listening. Since prayer is a conversation, helping our children learn to pray is a little bit like helping them learn to have good conversations. It is helpful to help them learn how to talk to God, but also how to listen for God’s voice.

Anticipate

Young children often mimic what they see adults doing. You can start building a firm foundation of prayer by committing time to your own prayer life. In everyday conversation, you can remind your child that God is always with them, pray short prayers throughout the day, and share with them the benefits you experience from prayer. It’s also helpful to remember that there are many different styles of prayer, and your child or children may not enjoy the same forms of prayer as you. Finding opportunities to experience different prayer styles is a great way to foster a love for prayer at any age.

Accompany

If you’re not sure how to start praying with your child:

Walking with your child as he or she develops a prayer life can really be as simple as praying with and for your child, and sharing different types of prayer with them. Here are some types of prayer to try:

  • Mass is our main celebration of communal prayer. Attending Mass regularly allows children participate in the prayer of the universal Church.
  • Short, repeatable prayers, like “Come, Holy Spirit” and “God, be with me today” are simple ways to pray and remember that God is with us.
  • Sacred Scripture: Reading a passage from the Bible, the daily Mass readings, or a Psalm is a great way to explore praying with the Word of God.
  • Devotions: The Rosary, Stations of the Cross, litanies, and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy are all ways to help draw closer to the Lord through repetition and reflection.
  • The Saints: Learning about different Saints is a great way to connect children with intercessors in Heaven.
  • Eucharistic Adoration: Quiet prayer time with Jesus in the Eucharist is a great way to practice listening for God’s voice. It’s helpful to explain to children that we might not hear a big, booming voice. It might be a special feeling in our hearts, or a soft whisper in our heads as we pray.

Praying with your child helps them learn the language of prayer and identify their personal prayer style preferences. Most importantly, it gives them an opportunity to deepen their relationship with God. Carve out time each day or week to pray together, or use times you're already together, like in the car or during mealtime. Invite everyone to share their concerns, triumphs, and thoughts with God and family.

If your child is resistant to praying:

Prayer, like any relationship, takes dedication and commitment. Don’t feel discouraged if you or your child are at different places in your prayer lives. Continue to invite your child to pray with you. Encourage them to share prayer intentions with you, but avoid forcing them into prayer if they don’t feel comfortable joining in. Remind them that you’re praying for them, even if they’re not willing to pray with you. As you grow in your own prayer life, consider sharing with your child – at an age-appropriate level – what you find fruitful from prayer, the challenges you face, and how they can pray for you.

Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin, pray for us.

Answer

Learn more about discernment.

Learn more about modeling behaviors.

Learn more about faith matters.

Learn more about liturgical living.

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