One of my favorite moments every day is when my wife and I kneel down to pray with our two-year-old daughter before she goes to bed. She folds her hands, we fold ours, and we pray a prayer together. Typically I lead the prayer, but sometimes Piper will chime in too. We keep it short and sweet. She doesn't have a ton of patience when it comes to praying, or maybe she's just taking Jesus seriously when he told us not to drag our prayers out like the pagans do. Either way, it's a pretty brief prayer. We also pray as a family before meals. Every now and then I'll forget to pray at dinner, and Piper will speak up and remind me, "Better say an amen!" Then sometimes I pray with her when we are in the car. I drive her to her babysitter's house a few days a week, and we'll often say a prayer together on our way. Over the short amount of time that Piper has been on this earth, I've discovered that great things come from praying with my kid. Here just a few reasons I believe every parent should pray with their kids.
1. It teaches them that God is personal.
One of the most beautiful and powerful truths of the Christian faith is that we have a God who is personal and available to us all the time. We don't have to go to a church or a temple to connect with God. We don't have to go through another person like a priest or a pastor to connect with God. Scripture teaches us that because of Christ we can approach the throne of God with confidence. Praying with your kids at the dinner table, in the car, or before bed teaches them that God is personal, that he is listening, and that he cares deeply about us.
2. It teaches them to be dependent on God.
We live in a world that is becoming increasingly more self-reliant, even when it comes to our faith. But one of the foundational truths of Christianity is that we cannot do this on our own. No matter how hard we try, we will never measure up or be good enough by ourselves. This is why we need Jesus. This is why the Gospel is such good news. I love the way Paul communicates this to us in Romans 5. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. That's where our hope is found. Praying with your kids teaches them that we need God, that we are dependent on him, and that we can't do this on our own. That's good thing.
3. It teaches them that prayer doesn't have to be perfect.
One of the biggest challenges most teens and even many adults have when it comes to prayer is anxiety over not knowing what to say. They are afraid they will say the wrong thing, that they will have nothing to say, or that their prayer won't make sense. It can be crippling to many people's prayer lives. This is so unfortunate because Jesus teaches us he'd much rather have an honest prayer than a "holy" one. We also see in the scriptures that the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf when we don't know what to pray. I would argue that some of the most God honoring prayers are also some of the least articulate. This is why it is so important to pray with your kids. It teaches them that you are genuine, and that your prayers are real and human. It also teaches them that they can pray honest prayers that don't have to be polished. I love that when I am in the middle of praying with my daughter for the refugees in crisis, she will interrupt me to make sure we pray for her toy school bus. It's not a perfect prayer by any means, but it is an honest prayer from our hearts. That's what God desires most from us anyway.
So what should you do from here?
1. If you aren't currently praying with your kids, start by picking one time every day that you can pray with them. Remember, it can be simple and short. It doesn't have to be fancy. Just keep it honest.
2. If you are already praying with your kids, encourage them to pray too. Ask them to lead a prayer every now and then. It's pretty powerful to hear your kids pray.
3. Remember to not only pray with your kids, but also pray for them. Set an alarm on your phone to pray for each kid every day. God is listening. He's working. He hears your prayers. It's one of the most powerful things you can do for your kids. Don't miss out on it.