Simple, real-life requests and little attempts to express gratefulness demonstrate the beauty of childlike faith. Oh, to pray with the confidence and trust of a child.
If your child doesn’t want to pray, tell her it is okay, and she can talk to God later when Mommy or Daddy have left the room. Forcing a child to pray at bedtime won’t encourage sincere, heart-felt communication.
As they grow…
Maintaining the habit of bedtime prayers becomes more challenging as children grow older. Bedtimes vary, routines change, and relationships alter, too. A child might become embarrassed to pray in front of others, or not feel like praying at all. Some children will pray simply from rote, missing completely the meaning of the words they say. And some will pour out their hearts, repeating a simple prayer that was memorized in order to give them a starting place while learning to communicate with God. Others will pray fervently for every family member, friend, pet, homeless person, and missionary they know.
Edith Schaeffer said there were times when her children fell asleep while listening to her pray as she knelt beside their bed.¹
What a beautiful image comes to mind—a loving mother taking time to pray for a child’s real and present need, and to pray for the individuals and family members the child knows and loves. Such tender care is expressed when a mother offers thanks to God for all the people who love her child, taking time to name each one. And a lasting impression is made when a child hears how dearly she is loved by God through the prayers of her mother.
Faith wells up
A mother’s pure and unselfish prayer ministers to herself as well as her child. Faith wells up in Mom, and a child hears the truth about the person of God and His love for mankind. Whether a new habit for you or an old established one, perhaps this evening, when you tuck a young child into bed, or check to be sure lights are out at an appropriate hour for your older child, you could take the opportunity to pray together—no sermons or patterns to be repeated, but heart-felt, sincere, and genuine prayer.
¹Edith Schaeffer, What is a Family? (Fleming H. Revell Co., Old Tappan, NJ, 1975), 138.