–Are you much more comfortable praying silently than out loud?
–Do you think others always “pray better prayers” than you do?
–Do you feel blessed when others pray for you either silently or out loud?
–Do you feel a special blessing when people pray for you in your hearing?
If you answered yes to all of the above, you are like the majority of us. Most of us feel blessed when other people pray for us. But we feel a bit insecure when asked to pray in front of others.
This feeling is so normal that it motivated Jesus’ disciples to ask him to teach them how to pray. It also motivated him to teach them the prayer most of us refer to as The Lord’s Prayer.
Doing anything in front of others can make us feel self-conscious, especially praying. All the more reason to start praying out loud with our children at a very early age—and very simply. If we can remember that prayer is talking to God rather than performing for others in the room, we will all do better.
Children who first hear prayers in simple language—without any special churchy words—will easily learn to talk to God themselves naturally.
Simple prayers thank God for food, for family, for friends. They ask for healing of loved ones. They ask for God’s blessing on us for a scary day tomorrow. Or they praise God for being a loving God and for caring for us.
Such simple prayers just talk to God about the ordinary stuff of life. We can best model talking to God well by talking to him the way we do with our children and our friends.
I wish my parents had always prayed out loud with us in restaurants. The first time I was with someone who prayed out loud before dinner in a restaurant, I was weirded out. The first time my sister prayed with me over the phone felt very strange. I don’t know why.
I know God understands how phones work much better than I do. But I had to be led by others to pray in those ways that were uncomfortable for me at first. So it took a while for me to feel comfortable praying that way with my children, but it took them much less time to learn than it did for me.
Most of us feel less self-conscious with our children than with other adults. So it will probably be much easier than praying out loud with them than with adults.
The main benefit is that it will make it easier for our children to pray naturally. A side benefit is that it will probably make us feel more comfortable praying out loud with adults. Take baby steps, and watch God bless you.
How were you first introduced to prayer? Have you had positive experiences or negative experiences with trying to pray out loud with children?