Every Christian parent wants to pass on their faith to their children. I am no different.
Like any goal, it doesn't happen by accident; it requires a plan of action. In our home, we have used different strategies for different ages.PRESCHOOL
It's never too early to introduce your daughter to the power of prayer. Preschoolers are capable of praying more than "God is great; God is good." Once when my youngest was only two, we visited a 99-year-old saint who attended my church when I was a young girl. During our visit, we had a time of prayer. Each of us placed our hand on this precious prayer warrior and offered a prayer of blessing. The last to pray was the 2-year-old who babbled something incomprehendable. The woman was moved to tears that such a young child would pray for her. Here are some ideas for your preschooler:
1.Explain to your preschooler that prayer is talking to Jesus is as easy as talking to their friends.
2.Remind them that God hears every prayer they pray.
3.Give them opportunity to pray from their heart. If they have trouble thinking of anything, start off with "Thank you, God, for" and let them fill in the blank.
4.Make a prayer book. Place pictures of your family, friends, pastors, missionaries, etc. in an inexpensive photo album. As you flip through the book, your daughter can pray with you or repeat after you: "God bless____________." Unfortunately, I didn't think of this while my girls were pre-schoolers.
When our girls were old enough to read on their own, I made them a prayer card that doubled as a bookmark in their Bible. This simple tool helped our daughters develop their own prayer life. You can make this card on a computer, but these directions are for doing it the old-fashioned way, by hand. Be sure to write clearly and print unless your daughter can read cursive. Here's how to make a prayer card for your daughter:
1.Choose a 3x5 card, with or without lines. Look for one in your daughter's favorite color or use a white card and make it colorful with colored gel pens or stickers.
2.Begin on a side with no lines. Hold the card in a vertical position with the longest side going from top to bottom. Begin by listing names of your family, one name per line: Ex. Dad, Mom, brothers, sisters, grandparents, other close family members.
3.Next, (on the same side) list pastors, missionaries, teachers, or others in authority.
4.Lastly, include things on the heart of your child like a friend who is ill. My oldest daughter included the country of China because she felt called to missions at a very young age.
5.The opposite side is for your daughter. Choose one or two character traits that your daughter needs to work on. (Honesty, Laziness, List the trait and a Bible verse about that trait. For example, if you need to work on honesty, then you may want to copy Psalm 34:13. If you're struggling with a lazy child, you could copy Proverbs 10:4. Each day your daughter can read the verse and pray that God would change her heart. If your daughter reads the scripture each day for several weeks, she'll memorize it without any trouble.
Of course, the card will not be accurate forever and will have to be updated every 1-2 months. Involve your daughter as you make changes. Pray together about which trait(s) your daughter needs to develop and encourage her as you see growth in her character.
UPPER ELEMENTARY/MIDDLE SCHOOL
Encourage your daughter to begin a prayer journal. Many Christian and non-Christian bookstores carry bound books with lined or unlined blank pages or create your own with a 3-ring binder and dividers. Here are some ways you can help your daughter prepare her journal:
1.Use a prayer plan like ACTS:
Adoration - telling God how great He is
Confession - repenting for what you've done wrong
Thanksgiving - thanking God for His blessings
Supplication - bringing your requests to God
Prayer isn't a laundry list of requests; it's about building a relationship.
2.Make a list of daily prayer requests, similar to the list above or help your daughter divide the requests: Monday for Missionaries, Tuesday for Wednesdays for Pastors, Thursday for Friends, Friday for Friends, Saturday for School.
3.Make a chart for prayer requests, include a space for the date you begin to pray for the request, the date it was answered, and the answer. Seeing so many answers to prayer will grow your daughter's faith.
4.Record the scripture you read each day. Write one sentence summarizing the scripture in your own words and one sentence about how it applies to your life.
5.Write your prayers to God. Encourage your daughter to write her feelings, but written words should be respectful and represent only what she would speak to others.
6.Listen to God. In my own journal, I record my thoughts and prayers in cursive writing and what God says in all caps. Prayer is a conversation, not a monologue.
These are just a few ideas of how we taught our daughters about prayer. Prayer is such a key part of a relationship with God. The earlier we teach our children about prayer, the earlier they establish a vital spiritual discipline. Ask God to show you how to best reach the heart of your daughter and help her develop a vibrant and powerful prayer life.