Every night I would pray with my kids with the simple question of what they would like to pray for, and usually it would go into the child like desire of asking their Heavenly Father for something they wanted, although my oldest did pray for everyone to not get hurt before asking for something for herself. My youngest would ask for a toy he desired or for a “good day tomorrow”.
I changed all that last night.
I had a bible devotion that reminded me of how we should pray. It brought me back to the story of those who asked Jesus how to pray and He said to “… pray like this,” and began to teach the Our Father.
In my Catholic experience, which I did practice for four years before returning back to my roots as a Evangelical Christian, the Our Father was taken quite literal. Later on, I could see that it was a guideline to how we should pray. I knew this in the back of my mind, but it didn’t hit me, hard, until I read my devotional four years later after having left the Catholic church.
After reading the devotional I decided I needed to teach my children how to really pray.
“Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name…”
First, we began our prayers by saying what we were thankful for and how God is so great in our lives. My daughter thanked God for having a mother like me tonight, which was a blessing to my ears, and my son was thankful that he had a fun day today. I know my children’s relationship and understanding of God is so elementary, but it’s a good beginning.
“… give us today our daily bread…”
During our prayers, I didn’t realize until now that I had them going in the wrong way, but I am sure God didn’t mind us in our skewed “Our Father” pattern of prayer. This part ended up being the last part of their prayers for the past two nights. I think I will sit down with my kids tomorrow night and read them the prayer that Jesus taught and have them understand why I was having them do the way they’ve been doing it with a little more detail. But in their prayers for their “daily bread” was very child like. My son wanted a new toy, and my daughter wanted everyone in the whole world to have a good day tomorrow.
“…And forgive us our debts…”
I had my kids say what they were sorry to God for. “What is it that you think would have made God sad?” My son knew the fact he hurt his sister today would have made God sad and said he was sorry. My daughter’s repent was that she didn’t do what I had asked her to. I explained it was good to say sorry to God… And that I did that a lot, too.
I know there’s more to the prayer than just that, but to explain deliverance from temptation to a four year old might be a little too heady for him. My daughter might understand as she is six years old and going into first grade next week. Maybe tomorrow night when I have read the prayer out of the Bible, maybe they will understand and want to pray for that as well.
As for me, I know I will be changing the way I pray as well. How easy it is to just pray for what we need; God is the emergency line when things get tough. No, enough of that. God is so much more than that! He deserves our praise and attention first before we come to Him with our petitions, though I do know that sometimes those quick requests of our desires are not ignored. He hears them all, yet, I do want to follow Jesus’ example, since I know he came to Earth to do more than just die for us. He gave us a direction to go after he did sacrifice us. He gave us a map to use, including how to pray.