Teaching children to pray

Graeme Goldsworthy…

Teaching the children to pray and praying for the children

Christian parents have a vital ministry in the church.  The Christian nurture of children is primarily the responsibility of the parents, not the day school (even if it is a Christian school) nor the Sunday school.  Unfortunately, in our modern society, mothers who stay at home to care for their children are often considered to be unemployed and to have sold out on the right of women to pursue a career.  There can be no nobler career than nurturing Christian children to be well-adjusted citizens of our society and to be faithful citizens of the kingdom of God.1

At the heart of this ministry is the role of both parents (and grandparents if there are any) to pray that the children will grow to be strong in faith and good works for the Lord.  In a Christian home the children will be taught the stories of Jesus and about the mighty acts of God.  They will be taught about the love that God has shown us in sending Jesus to die for us and to be our friend.  They will be taught to pray and, hopefully, taught to pray in a biblical fashion.  That is why the common practice of teaching children only ‘Dear Lord Jesus’ prayers needs some rethinking.  Of course it is true that younger children can grasp more easily the concept of Jesus as a man here on earth than the notion of the Trinity.  Perhaps we need to concentrate more on teaching children that one of the things Jesus has done for us is to make us friends with his Father in heaven so that we can talk to him and call him Father.  Children will most readily learn the ‘art’ of praying by listening to their parents or other adults praying.  It is therefore important for us to be consciously modelling a biblical mode of prayer for our children.

Source: Prayer and the Knowledge of God (IVP), pages 196-97.

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  1. Original footnote: I imply no criticism of the many Christian mothers who do work, who choose to should do so for the right reasons and not simply to be able to afford a more affluent lifestyle.  My concern here is the secular pressure on those who believe that it is their God-given calling to stay at home with their children to conform to the modern pattern of working mothers.

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