Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Teaching Kids to Pray #4: The Material Things

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Every child I’ve ever known who has been taught to pray gets in a habit of praying the exact same words without thinking about what he/she is saying. This is not a bad thing; after all, we are constantly encouraging our children to make habits of good things. The ultimate goal, though, is to mature them into people who talk to the Father rather than people who repeat a daily “liturgy.”

I think it’s important that we remind our very young children to think of new things for which to thank Him. So we say, just before the child prays “Think of some new things we can thank Him for…and let’s think of one thing we would love to ask Him for.” Then, in the prayer, if the children struggle to think of something new, you gently interrupt and say, “Let’s thank Him that the sun was shining while we were at the park,” or “Let’s tell God thank-you for the new book we got in the mail today,” or Let’s thank God that the rain is making our corn grow.” You might say “Don’t forget to ask God for help in some way…What about if we ask Him to help Grandma get over her cough or maybe we ask Him to help us to be able to invite someone to our gospel meeting tomorrow.”

Interrupting little prayers is a great way to prompt and promote “thinking” prayers. I’ve seen it become a great building block to sincere and thoughtful talks with the Father. Most importantly, your parental example of fervently talking to the Father, rather than “quoting” to Him is crucial in this process.

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