Teaching Your Kids to Pray, a Catholic Perspective
Teaching Your Kids to Pray, a Catholic View
As a Catholic parent, teaching your kids to pray can be an adventure. Sometimes you may hear your kids pray for their pet frog, an imaginary friend, or for someone to get punished. Sometimes you may hear them say a prayer so eloquent and heartfelt that it brings tears to your eyes. It is all part of the learning process!
Teaching your child to pray is an important part of teaching your child the Catholic faith.
How to teach your child to pray
Prayer is communication with God. You can thank Him, pray for others, pray for yourself, or praise Him. Even if you want to improve your own prayer life, don’t wait to do that before you begin praying with your children. Praying with them can help you grow in your prayer life, too.
You can make prayer a part of each day.
Teaching your child to pray takes time and practice. Here are five steps to help you in this worthwhile endeavor.
For more on this topic, you may also like this post by Growing up Catholic.
1. Pray with your child.
The best way to teach your kids how to pray is to pray with them.
Family prayer time is a great way to do this. Gather together as a family and pray together. You can each take turns saying your prayers out loud. For example, you can thank God for your day and pray for your intentions. Then, pray an Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, or a Rosary together.
When you pray aloud together, your kids will not only see you praying, but will hear your prayers. This will give them an idea of what to pray for and how to pray.
If your child does not know what to pray for, you can ask a question or two to prompt him or her. For example, what was your favorite thing to do today? Do you know anyone who is sick? What are you thankful for? What are you looking forward to doing tomorrow? Who would you like to pray for? What family members do you want to pray for?
Some kids have no trouble praying for a list of intentions. For others, it may take time for them even to think of one intention. That is okay. Be patient with them and give them guidance to help them.
Having daily family prayer time will also let them know that prayer should be a part of their lives. It can also inspire them to pray during the day, too
2. Pray over your children.
You can pray over your children each night as well. Make the sign of the cross on their forehead and offer a prayer for them aloud. You can pray for God’s guidance and protection, for them to grow to know and love God, for help in any struggles they are going through, and in thanksgiving for them.
Praying over your children helps gives you one on one time with them. They are your sole focus at that moment as you pray for them. It can help them to know how much they are loved by you and by God.
3. Talk about prayer and what it means.
Every so often you can spend a few minutes before your daily family prayer time talking about prayer, or do this sometime during the day. You can tell your kids what prayer means to you, why you like to pray, explain what prayer is, and ask them their thoughts about prayer.
Talking about prayer is something you can do every so often with your kids in a family setting or one on one.
Prayer is an important part of a life of faith. Talking about it with your kids helps them to understand this. It also keeps an open line of communication with them about the faith. As they continue to grow, they will have more questions, so having conversations about prayer now will help pave the way for more and deeper conversations with them as they grow.
4. Help them to memorize prayers.
There are beautiful prayers that are part of the Catholic faith. Help your children to memorize them. You don’t need to have a formal time set aside to work on memorizing them. Simply saying these prayers during your daily family prayer time can help them to do this.
The main traditional Catholic prayers are: the Our Father, Hail Mary, and the Glory Be. The Apostles’ Creed is also an important prayer that explains all we believe as Catholics.
You may also decide to teach them the Rosary and the Divine Mercy chaplet. These can also be memorized over time as you pray them together.
More Catholic prayers for children are the Guardian Angel Prayer and the St. Michael the Archangel prayer. Both of these prayers can help show them how much God loves them and that He protects them. He has angels looking out for them and for the world.
Prayer Before Meals is another prayer you can say together each day before you enjoy a meal together.
5. Be an example.
If you want your children to understand the importance of prayer and to make it part of their daily lives, set the example. Make time for prayer in your day in addition to your daily family prayer time.
Pray during your day. If you are praying and your kids ask you what you are doing, tell them you are praying. Invite them to pray with you.
You may enjoy gathering to pray a family Rosary with friends or before Mass. Perhaps there is a prayer group you can participate in.
Including prayer in your own day sets a good example for your children.
Teaching your child to pray is an important part of your vocation as a parent.
Remembering and putting into practice these five steps will help you to teach your children to pray. Pray together as a family, pray over your children, talk with them about prayer and what it means, help them to memorize their prayers, and set the example of daily prayer. Invite them to pray with you.
Learning to pray takes time and effort. Be patient and encouraging with your children (and with yourself!). Pray for them and pray for yourself, that you may guide them well and that you may all grow in faith together.
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