cultivating prayer in my toddler

OTI - posted on 02/25/2010 ( 9 moms have responded )

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how do i teeth my little to pray. i usually do my devotions as soon as i'm up in the morning, whiile she is still asleep.i noticed, she mimickes everything i do at this stage, i suppose the time has come for her to mimick going on her knees as soon as she gets up.

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Lisa - posted on 03/03/2010

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My daughter is 5 and she says the Lord's Prayer every night and she even adds her own "extra" to the prayer when she finishes....it is usually what she has been hearing me say while I pray. yes they mimick, so they hear and ususally say what they hear, and do what they see! Do devotions while your child is up...when I do mine, she usually grabs her bible and tries to do the same. We even learn key scriptures, I will repeat a scripture several times in the evening, several times in the morning, while driving to school and when I get home from work, I would ask her what is the scripture from this morning, and 8 times out of 10, she can repeat it!!! It takes time but children need us to be repititious...that's how they learn.

Evelyn - posted on 02/25/2010

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Hi Oti, begin by letting her watch you pray since the idea is to get her to learn, this means you may have to pray at times when she's awake. She'll generally do what she sees you do and attempt to say what she hears you say also. Best of luck.

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Sarah - posted on 03/02/2010

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Hi Oti, My husband and i have a 2 1/2 and a 1 year old, we also started by praying at meal times and we have routine of praying before bed. We try to make it fun and exciting so as to capture and keep their attention. We sometimes sing out praises, jump around and thank the Lord for the things we have been blessed with. At this age they learn through play so we try to teach them about Jesus that way. The best thing is to pray and ask the leading of the Holy Spirit He is always there to help.

Jessie - posted on 03/01/2010

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I Pray with my wee 19 month old daughter every night before bed after a reading from the bible, I have done that since she was born actually. over the last few months she has started joining me by clasping her hands and babbling along with me. I have found using simple phrases such as thanking God for things that we did during the day really involves her and gets her attention, and she seems to understand. I'm so glad that I started early making prayer and Jesus a natural part of her life from the start, i don't think it's ever too early, especially now when your little one is watching you and mimicking what you do, start incorporating a prayer into your routine with her, whether it be morning devotions, grace or bedtime Prayers (whatever you find easiest) and make it relevant for her. Lol sometimes Hannah and I even thank God for the Cat, (she loves the cat). Bless you and Good Luck :)

Magna - posted on 02/27/2010

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Oti, my daughter is 2 1/2 years old and I started praying with her before she goes to bed. At first she would talk and play with my hair and not pay attention, which was frustrating but understandable. It has been a consistent 2 months and now she initiates that we pray. Start with a short prayer of thanks for what she did that day (daycare, going to the park, visiting grandma etc.) and then it will get a little longer w/o you even knowing it and she won't complain.

An encouraging sidenote- I had a hard time one day last week and was 'upset' with God and did not plan on praying that night. My keen little girl took my hand in hers and said "mommy I want to pray to God". It felt like God took my hand in his and called me to him. Needless to say that prayer was more for me than for my daughter.

It really does not matter how or when you start...just start.

Good luck, have fun & watch your child teach you something about prayer, lol.

Julie - posted on 02/25/2010

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My son is 17 months old, and we pray with him before meals and before bedtime. He doesn't have much vocabulary yet, so we lead him, and he will repeat some of what we say (sometimes). He's got the "dee Jesu" and "ah'men!" down pretty good. At bedtime, we read a Bible story and then have our prayer time. Sometimes he enjoys it, and he'll say "thank you" and repeat other things, sometimes he doesn't want to because he's too ansy and wants to play, but he has to stay while we pray (really short, just a sentence or two), and then he'll say amen.

Heather - posted on 02/25/2010

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I agree with Victoria. My kids all started out praying before meals and before bed. We also do devotions in the morning. Like you I do mine before they are up while I eat my breakfast, so while they are eating I am free to read to them. You can get devotional books online or at the Christian book store for toddlers. The one that I have is for ages 2-5 and it is called Blessings Every Day. I have been using it for years, although sometimes I tweak it or add to it to better impact my kids in their lives.

Also a great way to teach kids to pray is just to pray with them when they are sad or scared or really happy. If they are excited about going to the park, pray with them and thank God for the beautiful day, and the time to play. If they fell down pray with them thanking God for giving them legs to run with, and asking Him to help take the pain away, and help them feel better.

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We started with the traditional "lay me down to sleep" prayer as early as 9 moths with our oldest two kids. Now that they're four & five I'm hopping to soon eliminate that "cookie cutter" prayer and try to teach them how to pray for "real". When they were around three & four I started introducing a thank you prayer at the end of their "lay me down to sleep". We'd say their usual prayer and then they would each thank Jesus for something. Over the last couple months a couple from our church left for Africa to adopt twin girls, and another couple's three month old daughter had open heart surgry, and one of my husband's brothers fell off a barn roof, so I've used those situations to introduce our kids to praying for the needs of others! I don't usually do "lay me down to sleep" anymore unless the kids ask to recite it!
I wanted to start praying as early as I could with my kids because praying is something, that I believe, is an important part of our relationship with our savior, but it's something I've struggled to understand and do because I was never really taught how to do it. I'm good with words and can make a prayer sound nice, but it lacks something that I think my kids have already discovered. My daughter has told me she thinks it's good we can talk to Jesus...at five I don't think I would have even really known what talking to Jesus meant unless it was in the words "come Lord Jesus be our guest, may this food to us be blessed, Amen"!

Victoria - posted on 02/25/2010

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We started by letting our kids pray at meals times and bed time and now they pray all the time, whenever they have a problem or are thankful for something, if we are driving they pray for protection, if we are going somewhere school/work, church, a friends house...whatever, they pray that God will be with us in all we put our hands to do. We don't really do the on our knees praying unless we sense God leading us to do so, we just teach our kids to always have an open dialog with God. My oldest prays at her desk before doing school work and tests and stuff. My youngest is 4 and always wants to pray, ALWAYS, it's great. And teaching them that God always hears them, whether on their knees, in their beds, at their desks, in the car, where ever they are is so very important. Let her see your open dialog with the Lord and she will follow suit and it will become like second nature to her.

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