Monday, December 13, 2010

Teaching Ella to Pray

Raising my children to be faithful followers of God is the most important task I have as a parent. It is a difficult task that will require much diligence throughout my children's lives. I want to instill a true faith in them, and I strongly believe that instilling a true faith should begin at a young age.

There are many elements involved when teaching my children about God, but one we have been focusing on with Ella has been teaching her to pray. The process began by exposing her to prayer - whether that was during a worship service, before a meal, or before going to bed at night.

Next, we worked (and are still working) on teaching her to be still and hold her hands together during a prayer. We've taught her to hold her hands together as a way to help keep her focused and still. One most certainly does not have to keep their hands together to pray - the Bible does not teach that - but it helps to focus little hands that might be busy elsewhere during a prayer.

Ella is a good observer. Starting between 18 and 19 months old, she started saying "Maymen!" (aka "Amen") at the end of prayers that she heard. She also started requesting "prayer!" every time we laid her down in her bed. It melted my heart the first time she asked for a prayer.

Recently we've begun teaching her to verbally say a prayer. To do this, we've been getting her to repeat after us - short phrases with words she can say. Right now, most of the prayer we are getting her to repeat involves being thankful: "Thank you for mama. Thank you for daddy. Thank you for Troy. Thank you for grandparents." We also include other things that we should be thankful for such as the church, our blessings, and Jesus. I realize that at this point Ella doesn't really understand anything about what a blessing is or what the church really is, but it is important for her to become familiar with these words even though she doesn't understand them yet.

Obviously, there is a lot more involved in prayer than what we have taught Ella so far, but it is a continual teaching process. I know that I still have a lot of growing to do personally when it comes to prayer, and I hope that my focus on teaching Ella will help me in my own prayer life.