Teaching Kids To Pray: A Catholic Perspective
Sara is one of those down-to-earth, lovers of Christ and His Church that always inspires me to practice my faith more fully. Her site, To Jesus, Sincerely, sums up her passion to give her Maker everything with all of her heart. I particularly love reading about how she practices her faith with small children. Since I am Protestant and have no children here on earth, I was thrilled that Sara agreed to share her perspective here what she does as a Catholic mother of three to pass on her faith by encouraging a vibrate prayer life amongst her little ones.
As Christian parents, we long to see our children embrace the faith we hold so dear to our hearts.
We teach them about Jesus and about the Bible. We help them learn about the virtues. We have them memorize daily prayers and, as they grow, study theology.
But most of all, we want them to have something deeper than a collection of facts and information.
We want our kids to love Jesus with all their hearts. To have a meaningful and vibrant relationship with Him.
We want them to be friends of Jesus, disciples of Jesus, followers of Him. They need to know Him so they can love Him.
And if they’re going to get to know Him, they need to talk to Him.As parents, one of the most important parts of passing on our faith to our children is helping them to have a rich and meaningful prayer life - a life filled with conversation with God. We must make teaching kids to pray a priority. Click To Tweet
As parents, one of the most important parts of passing on our faith to our children is helping them to have a rich and meaningful prayer life – a life filled with conversation with God. We must make teaching kids to pray a priority.
Praying Through the Senses
Catholics have a teaching commonly referred to as Theology of the Body. It’s based on the premise that humans are made in the image of God. Our bodies are designed to experience God’s presence in the world around us, as well as express our love for Him.
This is especially important in the faith formation of kids, since children aren’t abstract thinkers. They’re not ready to analyze and meditate and think lofty thoughts (and most of the time, neither am I).
Kids think with their senses and their hearts. And they pray that way, too.
One way Catholics define prayer is lifting our hearts and minds to God. Prayer isn’t about the words we say or the things we do. It’s about love. It’s about our relationship with Jesus.
So when we teach our kids to pray, in our family that means teaching them to love. And making sure they feel loved.One way Catholics define prayer is lifting our hearts and minds to God. Prayer isn't about the words we say or the things we do. It's about love. It's about our relationship with Jesus. Click To Tweet
We teach them to pray with their senses. To experience God with what they see, hear, taste, and feel. Their sense experiences help them lift their minds to God.
Jesus, and prayer, aren’t abstract concepts for our children. They come alive in their lives through the world around them.
Praying with the sense of sight
Our home is full of visual reminders of our faith. We have crosses, paintings, and statues of Jesus, Mary, and the Saints. We have holy cards, illustrated scripture verses, and religious themed books and movies.
Since prayer is all about relationship, we make sure our kids are familiar with God. They see reminders of Him all around our home. These reminders help them know God more, think of Him more, and fall more in love with Him.
Praying with the sense of hearing
Children listen to everything and mimic back a lot of what they hear. We keep this in mind when praying with our kids.
They’ll hear us if we pray throughout the day. They can memorize rote prayer. They can learn instantaneous prayer if we model it.
One thing we do with our kids is encourage them to pray when they hear the sirens of an emergency vehicle. It’s a good way to teach children to respond to the suffering in this world by reaching out to God.
We do our best to fill our home with holy sounds. Christian music and podcasts can be heard playing from our speakers daily. One every car ride, we play Christian audiobooks and dramatized stories of the Saints.
Surrounding children with Godly sounds can be helpful in building a prayerful atmosphere in the home.
Praying with the sense of taste/smell
Grace before meals may be the most common family prayer among Christians. This prompt to prayer often incorporates both the senses of smell and taste.
When my kids smell something cooking, they rush to the kitchen to find out “What’s for dinner?” But they can’t dig in until we’ve thanked God for the gift of enough food to eat.
Usually we pray the standard, “Bless us oh Lord…” But sometimes we say thanks for specific foods – like fresh fruit or deliciously sweet ice cream.
Our kids are learning to be thankful for the gift of taste God blessed us with.
Praying with the sense of touch
The sense of touch is one of the biggest ones for my kids. It’s their primary love language.
We know that one of the best ways to pass on love for Jesus is to make sure our children feel loved.
So, during prayer time, we snuggle up on the couch with blankets and illustrated prayer books. During church we hug and hold our kids. In the evening my husband traces a cross on each child’s forehead as a bedtime blessing.
The tangible helps experience the intangible: the spiritual presence of God.During prayer time, we snuggle up on the couch with blankets and illustrated prayer books. In the evening my husband traces a cross on each child's forehead as a bedtime blessing. The tangible helps experience the intangible: the… Click To Tweet
We also have a special box of prayer time toys – Rosary beads and statues, prayer blocks and cards – that only come out during family prayer.
We use the sense of touch to help our kids feel God’s presence during prayer time so they can know how real He is.
Hi, I’m Sara! A former teacher, sometimes artist, Catholic wife, and mom of 4. I’m here to open wide the doors of my heart and let you in on my joys, my struggles, my questions, and my life lessons. My goal is to grow in kindness, love, and prayer, and invite you to grow along with me. I’m moving forward step by step every day, and I’m so happy you’re joining me on this journey. Find me at To Jesus, Sincerely.