For a while there when my kids were too tiny, I would sing our prayers as lullabies. But as my children got older I wanted to cultivate a prayer life in them. I set out to teach HB memorized prayers. At first it was great, but then he got bored of them quickly. It still however is the basis of prayer for him. Whenever we light candles at church, he searches for a memorized prayer to say. Knee only has the Sign of the Cross memorized, but he's still a little young yet.
I decided to switch tactics. Now at night we start off with the Sign of the Cross and then everyone says what they are thankful for to God. Sometimes what they are thankful for are mundane things like toys. But they often surprise me and enlighten me as to what's on their mind. Knee is often thankful for various family members. HB is thankful for behaving himself, kisses and hugs, stars in the sky that sort of thing.
What it is doing is so simple but yet so complex. They are learning to have a relationship with God. I'm hoping as they get older they will view their relationship with God as one built on love and devotion. That they can talk candidly and openly with God and if they find they are at a loss for words memorized prayers are great to fill in the gaps.
And as they get older, our thankful prayers are a reminder of what they have to be thankful for instead of focusing all their energy on asking for things. I think those are good prayers too and we'll certainly build those in as they age. At this point my fear is that they will start viewing God as Santa Claus like figure or feel entitled and I desire to cultivate humility and thankfulness first. I want them to desire God's will above all else before asking. That I think comes with higher level thinking than simply acknowledging what good things they have in life. In a way they are already asking God for things anyway when they mention what they are thankful for like good behavior.
So dear readers, how do you cultivate a prayer life in your children? What nightly prayers do you say with your children?