Every night at dinner, we always ask our kids, “Who wants to say grace?” Our 5-year-old and 7-year-old often shy away from praying out loud. I know it is a maturity thing and their faith is still growing into their own. But our sweet, precious 3-year-old is ALWAYS game to pray. And, boy, does it bring us so much happiness.
Tonight his grace went something like this:
“Dear God, I pray for Mommy, and Jackson, and Taylor, and Buppy [his name is Casey but we call him Buppy]. I pray for our friends, and scooters, and Elmo, and mommy’s toes, and mommy’s shoe…” And then things fell apart.
But Daddy came to the table a little later and he said, “Oh! I forgot Daddy! God, I pray for daddy.” And we all just melted.
They Want To Belong
I wish I could freeze that moment forever. He was so happy and pure and innocent. He may not understand everything about God (then again, does anyone?), but he knows it is important to our family. It gave him joy to pray and be a part of something he knows our family values.
Your kids are watching you, and they’re listening to you. They see and hear the things that you deem important. If you want kids who seek God, read His Word, and pray then you need to also do those things, and do them where they notice. And on the flip side, if you don’t want kids who gossip, judge, exclude others, are rude, and self-seeking, then you need to examine yourself in those areas as well. I know I sometimes don’t even realize I am being negative and judgmental. We have to really work at focusing on what is in our thoughts and what comes out of our mouths. But it is worth it, not only for our own spirituality but for our kids’ spirituality.
Start With Prayers, End With Grace
The thing I have been learning is that it is never too late to start instilling your spiritual and family values in your kids. And it isn’t as hard as you think. You don’t have to beat your kids over the head with it and force it upon them. You can be subtle and gentle. Start with daily morning prayer time before school, or evening grace before dinner. Try family Bible lessons once a week, and Sunday School at home (or in-person if your state allows it now). My kids LOVE watching Saddleback Kids Bible stories on YouTube. Whatever you choose, be consistent, and make it a part of a routine. They will get used to it and they will even miss it if you forget! Just remember it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. A little goes a long way as long as you keep with it.