Prayer is a sacred, special act that should be taught to children early in life. Looking back on my life, I can't pinpoint one exact moment when I learned how to pray or when I received a strict school-like lesson in prayer, but I do know that young children are always watching. This means that as parents, you need to set the example of faith and prayer in the home if you want that for your family. You don't need a whiteboard or a test to teach your children how to pray. The best way is to be an example and pray with your children. Here are a few things you can do to teach your young ones about prayer and have them grow in love and faith.
1. Teach them the reason why we pray
Your family prayers will be different from those of other families, but there is no point teaching how if we don't teach why. Help them understand that there is really someone listening and that God loves us.
2. Show them the actions of prayer
The best teaching and learning is done side-by-side so your children can see how you do it. Go through the motion of getting on your knees, folding your arms, and closing your eyes. Your children might have been invited to pray with their friends' families (some possibly from various religions). Teach your children the way you know how to pray and let them learn your religion and culture because that is the culture you will establish in your home.
3. Help them with words
Many children will get stuck and forget what they are doing, so be there to whisper in their ears what to say. It may seem silly, but this is one way for your children to become comfortable with speaking out loud and knowing what to say.
4. Encourage regular prayer
Don't teach them once and let them do the rest. Continue family prayer and personal prayer and eventually your child will be able to do it all on his or her own. Prayer is an important procedure that your child will learn to value throughout life. This is why you should teach your child to pray often.
5. Be patient
If your child does not want to pray or if it takes a little bit longer for him or her to understand the importance of prayer, don't give up. It may take a few months of continuous prayer for the concept and proper actions to sink in with your child. This is a lifelong learning process.
However or wherever you pray, make it a priority to teach your children the sanctity of prayer and the way answers can be heard. Remind them that they may not hear a voice speaking back to them, but that prayer is real and answers are apparent everyday around us. Love your child and grow with them through faith, hope, and prayer.