“Train your children in the way they should go;
even when they are old, they will not swerve from it.”
Hey God, It’s me Lori,
Help me to show my children You. They already know you in their hearts but I feel You want me to show them how to recognize You and to talk with You. Let my words be sincere and my love for You to encourage them to want to be friends with You also.
Praying with my children…
After Spencer was born I ran the Derby Festival Mini Marathon and then got pregnant with our last child Jake. I loved the way my children were able to experience my pregnancy at those ages 6, 4 and 2. They were able to watch my belly grow. I showed them pictures of the baby maturing in books and we talked about what body parts the baby had at different points in the pregnancy. They even heard the heartbeat at the Doctor’s office. I stopped running when I became pregnant but still stayed physically active with other aerobics such as some HOT MAMMAS workouts but it was difficult to keep a balance in my head. I am a very physically active person so towards the end I was very ready to deliver and be able to work out again. When I didn’t run I didn’t talk to God quite as much.
Jake was my dream delivery when I finally went into labor for real. Well kind of. They had to break my water and I was attached to an IV so I could not walk around the hospital like I did with the last 2 deliveries. Instead I had a 4 foot area I could walk from the window to my bed. I was in labor 4 hours and my goal was to deliver vaginally, naturally, no drugs, with my female doctor and (here is the kicker) not to scream. I wanted to have the self control I lacked when I screamed while delivering Anna naturally. Right before I was to push for the last time my Doctor said this next push would do it. I closed my eyes and out loud with the Doctor, nurse and my husband said “God I can do this with your help, I know I can.” My doctor said “Of course you can Lori.” To which I replied “I am talking with God right now!” I pushed and it hurt like only a mom who has delivered naturally can understand and I can still feel his shoulders passing through my body, and I did not scream or yell at all!! I attribute that to God.
To understand how I pray I have to give you a little background. My faith started as a child. The first thing I can remember about my faith is standing in a Church looking at the long aisle and up to the altar. I remember asking my Daddy what he was chewing on when he came back from communion and if I could have a bite. I remember my mom reading a little golden book that was prayers about God. I went to Church every Sunday but my faith, as I knew it was singing to God in my backyard. Not formal prayers but to the music in my head. I was the 4th child and my sister did not like to play with me. So when no neighborhood kids were available I played with my pretend friend Jamie or alone singing to and dancing for God. I think I was pretty content. I never felt alone I always had the distinct feeling God was with me. HE still is. That feeling is one I am trying to teach my children. When I teach my children about Faith, because as a mom I am their first teacher of the faith, I rarely say, “The standing of the Catholic Church is… I say to them God and Jesus live within you, in your heart and you are never alone. I started this early when I sang to them as babies “Be not afraid” to each one of them. One of the lines in the song says Be not afraid, I go before you always Come follow Me.. I want them to know like they know they have breath to breathe and eyes to see that God is with them always. Originally I wanted to instill this belief in them because I thought God forbid they ever be kidnapped and away from any comfort from me at least they would each know that God is with them and they can talk to him and find some type of comfort there. I still think that is important but now I want them to have that faith as an anchor in their lives forever. If you ask my children where God is they will say in heaven and inside. I want them to know they are never alone, NONE OF US EVER ARE.
I pray with my children in many ways. We always pray Grace before dinner with my husband you know “Bless us oh Lord for these our gifts which we are about to receive from the bounty of Christ our Lord Amen”. After we say that we go around the table and pray in thanksgiving or for a need in our lives out loud. The younger the children the sweeter the prayer. There is a little girl we know who is recovering from cancer and Spencer and Jake both have to say”For baby Ellie google times”. You can tell quite a bit from a child’s prayers who they think about the most. I love to listen to their prayers. I also pray at Church with my children. When we come back from communion I ask that each of them fold their hands, close their eyes and talk to God in their head for a little bit. We do not have kneelers at our Church although we will soon. So I don’t know where my youngest boys got it but they kneel to pray in Church even though everyone else is standing. It is a precious site to see my 6 year old and 4 year old on either side of me on their knees head bowed, hands folded, eyes closed in prayer with God. I treasure that site.
When they wake in the middle of the night with a bad dream I pray with them that God let’s them have good dreams. I pray every night without fail with each of my children when I tuck them into bed. With the boys it is nothing long just a short thanks for today, be with us tomorrow and then my child will add something. With Anna our prayer is much longer, we pray ” Hey God it’s me mommy and Anna and we just want to say thanks for today and we tell what we did that day, thanks for the people you have put in our lives, and for those who are sick and need you the most. We always pray that God will help us to be better people tomorrow than we were today. We pray that we see God in others and that others may see Christ in our eyes. And we never forget to say for Anna to not have dreams at all (she is very concerned she will have bad dreams, so she just doesn’t want to have any). We end with we love and praise you. Amen.
I pray a little different with my youngest Jake. When tucking him into bed we sing at least one church song and “twinkle, twinkle little star”. He loves to sing Alleluia especially in Church he belts it out. But through out the day we pray without thinking about it together. When my children get into arguements and I say how do you think Jesus would do that, that is a prayer. Sometimes when they have done something wrong, I have them say a prayer to apologize to God and they do. We constantly use Jesus as a role model for behavior. That is difficult for a child to live up to but I would rather that they try as hard as possible to be like Jesus than to do things just because it is a rule with not understandable reasoning behind it.
Another thing we practice in my household whether they are my children or the kids I baby-sit you have to apologize and if you are the other person you have to forgive the hurt. They have to look into eachothers eyes to do it. Sometimes if my children have had soemone do something not so nice at school and the other child doesn’t apologize I try to teach my children that even though people don’t always say they are sorry we still have to forgive. It is a hard lesson but I think forgiveness is one of the best lessons you can ever teach a child. How hard and heavy is it to carry hate and grudges throughout our lives. I want my children to be free of such burdens. When you forgive your pain is lifted and you are free from that wrongdoing. You may not forget the act but hopefully in the act of true conscious forgiveness it will no longer continue to hurt you as much.
How do you feel comfortable talking about God with your child? You can tell them stories about your religion but try to keep it on his/her level. You can sing songs with them “This little light of mine I’m gonna let it shine.” Just know that what you say and how you pray with your child is totally up to you. Your children don’t expect anything but anything you are willing to share with them about your faith and love of God will stay with them for a lifetime. Children can recognize sincerity so if you don’t feel comfortable praying a certain way don’t do it. It may be uncomfortable the first few times to talk out loud to God with your child, but if you don’t do it who will? You love your child more than anyone else in this world and if your child learning to pray is important to you they need to have YOU teach them. As moms we have hundreds of responsibilities and so many moms let this one go. Maybe your parents never prayed with you or kept their faith private so you never thought a parent should be the one to do this. But how do you expect they will learn to pray if You don’t set the example? They could do it at a Christian School or a Sunday School which is great but how much more endearing and special would that be if it were you that teaches them the way to God. If you decide to do this with your child I can promise you it is a bond that you will have with your child and God that will never fade. I believe God call us moms to lead our child back to God. I believe it is our responsibility and our privledge…