Teaching our children to pray is an essential part of introducing them to Jesus Christ. Our Lord gave us prayer so we could communicate with him directly, and getting children comfortable with prayer helps them to understand that God is always close and to grow in consciousness of his presence. We are all called to holiness, and all to prayer.
The best way to begin guiding our children in prayer is to pray in their presence. Even before they have learnt to speak, we can invite them to pray with us as best they can. We can look for opportunities to pray in front of them, just as we would seek out opportunities to teach them about manners or about how to treat each other with kindness. As well as praying in the morning or before bed, we can encourage them to come to God with all things and at any time and that no request before God is too small. Some children may feel shy about praying out loud and may say they can’t think of anything to pray about. If this happens, we can pray for something first, and then ask them to finish the prayer.
There are many ways in which we can share the joy of prayer with our children and help them deepen and grow in their experience of prayer; some of these are explored on the adjoining pages. It is also important that children understand prayer can simply be a conversation with God, one that is held with respect for his unending love and power, but that is spoken in our own words.
Prayer is not complicated and is meant for everyone. An early Christian poet, St Ephraem, wrote, ‘Birds fly, fish swim, people pray’. Human beings are made to pray, because they are made for God.
The family is called to join in daily prayer, to read the word of God and to share in Eucharistic communion, and thus to grow in love and become ever more fully a temple in which the Spirit dwells.” (p18 Amoris Laetitia)