Family Prayer FAQs
Want to start your kids on the road to prayer? The authors of 'Circle of Grace' tell you how."Circle of Grace" website.
How old do my children have to be before I can start praying with them?
Ideally, we think you should begin praying for your child before he or she is even born. What better way to give expression to all the hopes and longings of expectant parents than through the medium of prayer? Mothers talk and sing to children in the womb, and the underlying love that they are communicating is as close to prayer as anything they will ever say or do.
In the first two to three years of a child's life, praying for the child can accompany bedtime routines. By the time our kids were about three or so, we would make a game of praying, so that after Mommy or Daddy said a prayer, the child would clap hands on the second syllable of the word "Amen" ("a-MEN!"). Even a small child can grasp two of the most important forms of prayer: blessing ("God bless Grandma, Grandpa...") and thanksgiving ("Thank you for...").
What are the most natural times of day for the family to pray?
Grace before meals and bedtime prayers. Saying grace is both an act of gratitude and an acknowledgment of our dependence on forces that are greater than we are. While it may be logical or comfortable for a parent to say the grace, we believe that children ought to be given regular opportunities to pray in their own voices and in their own words.
Many families enjoy holding hands during grace--a gesture that outwardly demonstrates an inward unity. For those who are especially unself-conscious, there are a number of graces that have been set to familiar music and can be sung before the meal.
What is it about [bedtime] that makes it such an appropriate time for prayer? Perhaps the most obvious answer is that the preoccupations and distractions of the day are over, and that darkness brings with it a quieter, more introspective mood. But for a child there is more to it than that. Young children often find going to sleep a difficult and even scary experience.... Bedtime prayers serve as a sort of bridge between the day and the unconsciousness of sleep--a moment to gather together thoughts of love and trust.