The Prayers of Children
As I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I die before I wake,
I pray the Lord, my soul, to take.
This was the bedtime prayer I was taught as a child. It is lovely prayer and helped me understand I would want to be with the Lord at when I died. Heaven was a place talked about often especially when someone died I realized it was the end. As a child, however, I really had no idea what heaven was about and why this prayer would be necessary.
Over time I had stopped praying all together except when the family went to church because it was part of being in church or when my animals were sick. I often prayed for the healing of the animals on the farm because I hated seeing them in pain. Though I never saw an animal healed, I still begged and pleaded with God to do something. At times I even prayed they would just die quickly, so they didn’t have to suffer anymore. (There was not an abundance of dying animals nor were any animals sick or hurt on purpose.)
Death was common in my life as a child, but I still didn’t understand what being in heaven really meant other than they were no longer here. When I needed help, I prayed, but even then I did not pray that often. I did not understand what prayer was for.
It wasn’t until after the birth of my child that my life drastically changed and I began to understand what prayer was for. Even while I still walked in the darkness, I knew I wanted my child to have the strong faith I had seen in my classmates at a young age.
I saw them strong, and they endured many things but never lost their hope. I wanted my baby to go to church and have the faith I did not have growing up. The problem was I thought the answer was a church. The truth was the answer was Jesus for both of us. I needed Him just as much as she did and more if I was going to teach her anything about God. What I found out over and over was God was using my child to teach me about Him.
It was not until I was an adult that I found out prayer was really talking to God. I thanked Him for all the things my life, asked for protection when I needed it, just spoke to Him about what was happening in my world. I told Him stuff I worried about, things I loved, and things in my life I saw no purpose for. I started to have a relationship with Jesus. Prayer = Relationship with God. Then I found out further down the line that pray = mountains moved. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Mark 11:23 (ESV)
I started to teach my child about prayer when I understood it to better depths myself. When she would hurt herself, I would pray for the pain to leave her. When I was sick, she prayed for me. I came home from work one day, and she told me she prayed for the cat who had a scratch on her and it went away. I have been amazed by her prayers, at her relying on God before anything else in her life. We pray every morning before school and every night before she sleeps. We do not pray a formal prayer but one of conversation with God often.
There was a small prayer she knew that I had taught her. Not because I wanted a formal prayer but these were issues we were having and living out. We were freezing, not feeling safe, we had bad days, and nightmares. It was important to thank God for everything we had even if it was little. I thought it was important to tell Jesus we loved him and really mean it every day. There are so many times we forget to mention to each other how much we love them. This prayer as altered some as she has gotten older and when we get to the thanking part she thanks God for her toys, every person in her family is named, all the children, the babies, and the world. There have been nights when she wants me to pray instead, and I have out loud. She hears me pray about many different things when I pray for us because I am already talking to Jesus, so I pray for others too.
It is vital for our children to see us pray, and read the bible. It is essential for them to see our faith in our words, actions, and beliefs. It builds our children up, and it will build us up. I ask you to pray with your children in a meaningful way whatever way that is. It will equip them as an adult to live a life with God as opposed to without Him. Start when they are young and speak life into them. Pray the promises of God over them as infants or at any age. For those of you with grown children who may not be walking with God don’t you dare give up on them, you keep praying them through.