About Me

I am a proud wife and mother, and a born again Christian. I work from home as a writer while taking care of Miss N, our six-year-old, Miss M, our four-year-old and Miss C, our newest bundle of joy. Life is crazy but so much fun!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Toddlers and Preschoolers Praying

Before I go into my post let me give an update on the "why" question - Natalie and I talked and I explained that I get frustrated when she asks "why" and I don't know the answer, so we decided to work together to think of different questions she can ask. The last two days have been so much better, with her asking plenty of questions, but ones I could answer. We are both much more content, but I have seen it helping her because she is actually getting answers to the questions on her mind, which are very real and important to her.

Natalie has suddenly shown an interest in praying. We are letting her, but it raises questions in my mind. We have never required her to pray, or even required her to do any "motion" while we are praying. We simply require her to be quiet while we pray out of respect, but I feel that making her fold hands or bown her head could be making a little Pharasee out of her.

The question I have in my mind is this: Is it bad to let her pray when she is not yet born again? Am I teaching her to "go through the motions" before there is a genuine heart change?

She has asked a lot of questions about the gospel lately, and when we talk about it it is clear to me that she is not yet aware of her own sin or the magnitude of it, which I feel is fairly normal for a three year old. So in other words, she is not yet ready to "call upon the name of the Lord and be saved." Although she is learning. The other day I raised my voice at her out of anger and I later appologized and pointed out that what mommy had done was a sin, and that everyone sins and that is why Jesus had to die on the cross. Today I was in the basement and she was upstairs calling me. I could not stop what I was doing so I yelled that I would be there in a minute. She told me later "Mommy, you should not have yelled, that is a sin." So, I had to explain that yelling in anger is a sin, but sometimes you have to raise your voice so someone will be able to hear you.

So, is it wrong to let a child pray? I have decided it is not. If her heart wants to pray and thank the Lord for something, then I should let her. Jesus told us to come to Him with the faith of a child, and this is the beginnings of that faith. I do think this is a complicated theological question that I really do not know the answers to, but in my gut I feel like saying "no you can't pray" is wrong. I don't have a biblical reason for it, but it just feels wrong.

I love this child. I love watching her awareness of the gospel open up the older she gets. It sends me to my knees on a daily basis begging God for wisdom. While sunday school and children's clubs are important, I am realizing more and more that the majority of her Bible instruction will come from me, her mother. It is so humbling to realize that. Now I must sign off. My prayer closet is calling.


Tasha said...

You know, I have never even thought twice about children praying. Sometimes I ask them if they would like to pray, other times they just do it (like before a meal).
Anyhow, I think you are on the right track. It is great to be able to go to God in prayer, and may children know that He is always there ready to listen and minister.

Adventure Mom Janna said...

I love how you are always talking with her.

I've heard of a family who would allow their child to pray before salvation but had them pray "Dear God" and once they were saved they were allowed to pray "Dear Father" to help them distinguish.

When you potty train you talk about the potty, visit the potty and practice on the potty so that one day when they are ready they will use the potty.

I think we talk about God, learn how to talk to God, and go to His house so that one day when she's ready she will understand more about being God's Child and choose Him as her Savior.

Jan said...

wow Nicole it never ceases to amaze me how deep your thoughts are. When you were 3 we did not have the privilege of knowing the Lord and didn't go through these deep questions and I think when Joey was that age we were such young Christians that we were just thankful for our children singing 'Jesus' songs.

I continually marvel in the Lord and how He is leading you in raising my beautiful granddaughters and am so thankful for you and Tim.
I love you!
PS LOVED what Janna said about Dear God vs Dear Father- very insightful

Pamela H said...

When I was little, we learned to pray by rote, and learned why later. I never thought teaching a child to pray before they understood all of the religous reasons was OK. I told my kids and grandkids, we need to thank G-d, and that even if you don't think you see Him, He's always there. Kids want to pray even before understanding, because they see their family praying, and don't need to understand why until they are ready.

I've never thought yelling at someone was a sin, though. I DO think that apologizing when it's out of anger is a good way to show we aren't perfect, and that you respect your child as much as she respects you.

dchabegger said...

This post caught my attention because it's one of those "Is there a right answer" questions. It's frustrating to desire the best for your child, but not have specific scripture passages to base our decisions on. Here's a thought (similar to the potty training post) When our children are young, we teach them to obey, be kind, sit quietly in church etc... because "Mommy or Daddy said so"; not because they love God and want to please Him. Of course, our desire is for them to someday have a personal relationship with Christ and then obey etc... for the right reason--because they love God and want to please him, and one way to please him is by obeying the commands in scripture.
I think the same idea can be applied to prayer. Children can learn to pray and begin to understand that God is our provider and the person we go to with our problems and concerns. They're not praying for the right reasons, but once they become a Christian we begin to communicate that to them and start making prayer more personable for them by talking about how God answers the prayers of believers etc...
Along those line...I don't think it's bad for a young child to learn to be thankful for the food, clothes, sunshine etc... that God has given them and actually thanking God for those things can be the beginning of understanding more about our God. I hope the rambling made a little bit of sense. I take great comfort in the fact that while we as parents are responsible for teaching our children, we also serve a great God. I often pray that God would work in the heart of my "little Danelle" inspite of my mistakes/uncertainties. Lets face it, sometimes we make a decision and then later wonder what we were ever thinking:). Parenting is such a joy, but also an overwhelming responsibility. That's off the subject of prayer, but I think God is pleased that we think through things like you are, even though we don't always have all the answers. Jas 1:5-God promises to give wisdom "liberally".
This doesn't really have anything to do with prayer, but here's a book I've really appreciated: Teach them diligently by Lou Priolo. It's about how to use the scriptures in child training.

I'll sign off for now. Mom reminded me of your blog and I've enjoyed reading your posts!! :)