Helping children make God personal & important to them-Making time for prayer
I love these conversations I have with my children. We talk about God, and I try to bring him down to a human level. Not to deny His position and power, but to help us to connect to Him, relate to Him and attempt to wrap our human mind around Him in an effort to develop a relationship. Lately, I’ve noticed we’ve all fallen into a habit of asking God to wait, and I wanted to encourage my children to look at this request of ours differently, to humanize it. I want them to be aware that there is an anticipation on the part of our Lord, and just because we don’t see the effect of our neglect, doesn’t make it ok to disregard God and continue in our behavior.
I asked my kids to imagine if a friend came to our house, knocked on the door and ask to play. Then we went on to image that their response to this friend was “sure, but we have something to do first, wait here for us” and then the wait begins on the part of their friend. Some time later, another little knock on the door. A gasp from the kids “oh I’m sorry I forgot, I’ll be out in just a few minutes”. A happy “OK” is the response they hear. Then little feet begin to pace, and the mind races with excited ideas bouncing around in their friend’s head. This little friend can’t stop thinking about the fun they’ll all have together, the games they’ll play, the silly talks they’ll have, the bond they will begin to form….but the day slowly gets darker, and time passes. Their friend knocks again to the response of “oops, I forgot…”
I questioned how they thought they would feel knowing their friend stood would end up standing outside the entire day, waiting. Now what if that was God? Do we tell God “I’ll be right there”, and then forget about Him? Immediately they understood! They recognized that God is often waiting for us to open the door. I told them that God never desires to intrude, He wants to be welcomed in. Our God, who is literally everything, simply wants to be with me, with us, with you. That’s it, no strings, no contracts.
Here are some techniques I use to encourage my children to see God more personally, and begin spending time with Him:
- Post reminders in their bedrooms to encourage them to just say “Hi” to God, this is great for first thing in the morning!
- Set aside time as a family to open your bibles. Use a study guide to keep you accountable. I recommend checking out the many that are offered through The Bible app- you can use the keyword “family” to find a plan that’s right for you **Bonus, you can set reminders on the app to help keep you on track. (click for more details https://www.bible.com/app)
- As we do when we want to encourage our children and promote good habits, you may want to apply the use of a reward system (just until they get into the swing of it). I tend to not stay on these “reward” systems too long, because I’ve found that my kids get pretty hip to the game and start to take advantage (Autumn will come right out with it and say “I’m doing this so I can get a reward”…no shame). It can be a simple “caught spending time with God” card that you give them. They they can turn in 5 or 10 cards for a snack or an extra 30 minutes to stay up late. I get around Autumns schemes by saying I actually have to catch them. (Mom confession, I sometimes pretend not to notice every time, especially if I know they’re trying to play the game. Remember this is supposed to encourage good practices, not force them to do this just for a reward)
- Prayer before dinner. The kids have a prayer they always say. As for me, I tend to say the same prayer but use different words. Example, they’ll say “Father, thank you for this food, we ask you to make it nourishing to our body.” I’ll say “God, thank you that we have food to eat today, for always providing for us and thinking of us, please allow this food to nourish the healthy bodies you’ve blessed us with”. I want my kids to be aware that I’m actually talking with God, and not just reciting a set of words as a conditioned precursor to being able to eat.
- This is the one I use most often, and that’s good old fashion “Be the example“. Everyday I drive the kids to school. So either on the way there, or right before they get out, I encourage them to join me as I take time to talk with God about the day ahead of us. This is so simple, and often these are the most effective methods to helping me be consistent. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you while on the way to wherever you’re going (because setting alarms for everything is just where I am in life).
I admit I love these conversations because it helps me to understand God at a fundamental level. I’ve often said I don’t have any advice to draw from, meaning I was never given this type of guidance growing up about how to love God, how to seek God, how to learn God, and be in a relationship with Him. My God, who saved me and loves me so dearly, just wants to talk with me. And how many times have I ignored Him, shut the door on Him, or made promises that I didn’t keep? Oh, how this hurts my heart. I want to be different and teach my kids different. I just want to make Him real, accessible, and personal to me and my family.
I would be honored if you would remember these tips and use them when teaching your children the importance of spending time with God, and about His desire to be near to His children.