Prayerful people are not only devout in faith but also in their communities; they care about all human beings in general, not just their immediate family or friends. They are the type of person who is quick to say “thank you” or “I’m sorry.” They are thoughtful and caring, exhibiting a strong moral character.
While there isn’t an exact age at which children become prayerful, parents can take steps to ensure that their children grow up with these beliefs instilled in them. If raised properly, children will naturally grow into prayerful and caring young adults.
Set a Prayerful Example for Your Child
A child learns everything from his parents, even how to pray. Parents should set an example by praying with their children frequently and including them in family prayers.
Pray at Mealtime
Prayer before a meal is a good way to begin. It provides a moment of reflection and gratitude for the food in front of them, setting a time frame for the conversation.
Pray Grace at Bedtime
Bedtime prayer can be just as powerful. Saying bedtime prayers does not have to be complicated or lengthy; simply saying the child’s name at the end of a prayer is an easy way to personalize the moment.
Pray With Your Child
Prayer can also be incorporated into playtime by taking turns talking about things they are grateful for, asking St. Anthony for his help in finding lost toys, or even asking St. Francis for protection before going outside to play.
Pray to Say Sorry
If a child has misbehaved or done something wrong, join him in praying for forgiveness. Parents should pray with their children, asking God for forgiveness and help avoid the same situation in the future.
Create Individual Prayers
Each child is unique, which means their prayers should be as well. Parents can help this process by creating personalized prayers with each child, including the names of family members, friends, and favorite things. These personal touches will make praying more special for the child, so he looks forward to these quiet moments every day.
Parents should pray with their children, not just for them. Prayers said together can be particularly powerful because children often take on the beliefs of their parents, and if they’re praying along with them, it is more likely than not that they will grow up to believe as well.
Teach Children About Saints
Saints are a great way to help children understand prayer and what it means. Parents can talk about patron saints, such as St. Francis of Assisi, who loved nature and animals so much that he spoke with other animals to learn their prayers.
The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library is a series of very short, easy-to-read books for early readers that introduce children to particular saints and their stories. The illustrations are engaging, and the words are simple enough for young readers to understand clearly. By reading these books with your child or allowing him to read them alone, you can help him learn about different saints and how their lives relate to ours.
Surround the House With Prayers or Bible Quotes
Posting Bible quotes or prayers on the fridge, bedroom doors, or other highly-trafficked areas of the home is an easy way for children to learn about God and prayer on their own. By seeing these words on a daily basis, they will be more likely to remember the message behind them even when their mom and dad aren’t around.
You can also give your child beautiful customized wood prints with prayers as gifts and hang them in their room. These boards can be created in any language and have a picture or name of your child alongside the prayer. This way, they will know that this prayer is specifically for them.
Create a Family Prayer Corner
Setting aside a designated area for prayer tells children that prayer is important to you and thus will be necessary to them as well. They can place favorite pictures of loved ones, flowers, candles, or other prayerful objects in their praying nook to make it special.
Praying with your child can be easy and fun. Whether you do it every day at dinner or just before bed, taking this time to spend with God and your child will help them learn about prayer and develop a lifelong habit of talking to God.
By starting them young, praying with your child will help them grow into adults who never forget to say a prayer or take time for God. Children should know that God is watching over them and an important part of their lives and everyone in it.