As a family, my husband and I are pretty good at those standard prayer times with our children. You know, the blessing of the food (which your children always end up blessing everything but the food) and the night time prayer routine (that is the never ending list of all the things they are thankful for down to their toothbrush).
I joke about these prayer times, but I am so thankful for the habits that our little ones are starting to form. Mealtimes and bedtimes are great places to start praying with your kids. When you want to build a relationship or a friendship with someone, you spend time with them. That is exactly what our preschoolers are doing when they begin to have prayer time. When they begin to talk to Jesus, our preschoolers begin to realize that Jesus is their friend, and He cares about the details of their little life.
Within these prayer times, there is so much that preschoolers are able to grasp as they talk to God. I believe there are 3 key areas of understanding that you can teach your preschooler regarding prayer.
- HELP: We see time and time again, whether in Scripture or in our own personal lives, that Jesus is our ever present help. We can go to Him and ask Him for the things in our life we need help with. Psalm 121:2 says, “My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” In the story of the Centurion soldier in Matthew 8:5-13, we see him ask Jesus for help for His sick servant. Jesus says to him in verse 13, “Go! And let it be done just as you believed it would.” This is a great story to illustrate to our preschoolers about how we can ask for help through prayer.
- THANK YOU: This is the easiest one for preschoolers to grasp. Honestly, it’s the easiest one for us as parents to teach our kids. Praying with your children before bedtime is often a great time to reflect on the day and thank God for what He has done. Psalm 136:1 says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.” We want to cultivate a heart of thanksgiving into our little ones for who God is and for what He has done for us!
- FORGIVENESS: With my 3 year old I am not always quite sure she is getting the whole forgiveness thing. When I instruct her to tell her sisters she is sorry for something, she replies with what seems like a really flippant reply of, “Sorry!” And you know what, her heart probably really doesn’t mean it yet. BUT, she is learning the habit of apologizing and right now that is what is important. I want my children to also know that God doesn’t like it when we sin either, but He is always there ready to forgive us. The Bible says in 1 John 1:19, “But if we confess our sins, He will forgive our sins, because we can trust God to do what is right.”
I know if you are like me, it can be really easy in the hustle and bustle of mealtimes and bedtimes to want to rush through those routines. But these are great times to begin to instill in your little ones the habit of praying and to spend some time teaching them what prayer is. Preschoolers are little sponges ready to soak up and absorb from you, mom and dad!