I love listening to my four-year-old pray. His sweet little voice is speaking along with us as we say the Lord’s Prayer. Indeed, the little pronunciations aren’t entirely clear, but he is joining in with purpose. When he says “How great thou art” and it sounds like a mix of Kentucky with a Boston “car.” Let me tell you 6 faith-building reasons why you ought to teach your child the Lord’s Prayer as well.
#1 Make Family Dinners More Meaningful
Some in our household do not eat breakfast, and we all rise at different times, so we don’t eat breakfast together. Many times lunch is a staggered affair as well on a school day. If your family is like ours than the evening meal is a great time to teach your child the Lord’s Prayer.
Our usual prayer is a familiar one. God is great. God is good. And we thank him for our food; By His hands, we are fed, Give us now our daily bread. Amen.
One day we started alternating with the Lord’s Prayer. This was a valuable opportunity to teach this ancient prayer of the Church. It is also a great prayer in and of itself! We are asking for our daily bread but also asking for reconciliation with those around us. Often it is with our families that we have the most to apologize for about wrongdoing.
#2 Rote Prayers Make it Easy for Your Child to Join in Prayer with You
Before kids, our mealtime prayers were spontaneous. They were not rote prayers but prayers filled with the concerns that were in our hearts. These are great prayers, but hard prayers for young children to participate in. As our children age, I see a return to those kinds of prayers. Teach your child the Lord’s prayer so that they can join more easily in prayer time.
Rote prayers have value as well. There is a special connection to pray words that Christians before you have prayed for years if not centuries. These kinds of prayers connect us to the timeless church and the saints that have gone on before us. Teach your child the Lord’s prayer so they can join with the saints in prayer.
Can rote prayers be stale? Yes. We can find ourselves reciting the words from memory and not from the heart. Prayers can be rushed through to see who can say them the fastest. We can say the words and not listen to them.
By the same token, we can also recite the words and not hear them. However, by never including rote prayers, we take for granted the great gifts and blessings that we have been given in these great prayers. Teach your child the Lord’s prayer and make sure that YOU aren’t the one saying it out of habit.
We have communion weekly in our church, following the practice of the early church in celebrating weekly communion. Other churches have communion on a monthly or quarterly basis. For them, this abstention from the Lord’s Supper highlights it’s importance. It echoes the importance of fasting as an essential spiritual discipline that helps us in our denial to focus on Christ. Our hearts are always prone to wander. We must work to model prayer that is an intentional and heartfelt rendering of words that are familiar.
There is also a spiritual reward when we
focus on ancient and prescribed words.
#3 This Ancient Prayer Teaches Children a Pattern of Prayer
We have a tendency to focus on the newest and best. We also tend to focus on what our emotions and experiences are assaulting us with. Submitting to the discipline of a prescribed prayer forces us to focus on a prayer that is theologically balanced. Prayer isn’t just about asking for what we think we need. The Lord’s Prayer gives praise to God. The prayer leads us to confession and to ask for forgiveness. It helps to focus on our relationship with God and with each other.
The pattern of the prayer serves as an excellent pattern for all future prayer. Repetition helps to shape our rhythm of prayer. Plus, the Lord’s Prayer is a prayer that the Lord himself taught and is recorded in scripture. Teach your child the Lord’s prayer because Jesus taught it to His disciples.
#4 Prepare them to participate in Worship
I remember signing the Lord’s Prayer in church. Opera Style. The vocal range of the song was quite challenging. It was not kid-friendly. I am glad that our church joins together in this prayer as a spoken addition to our elder-led morning prayer.
Many churches continue to have the Lord’s Prayer as a part of their services. The words might change. (It is always nice to give visitors a heads up if they are to use debts, trespasses, or sins.) For the sake of my children’s’ understanding of the words, I am glad we use sins.
So much of worship is a mystery to young children, and that is okay. They don’t always understand the words spoken or the songs sung. Yet, children start to make connections and to put the pieces together. The Lord’s Prayer is one.
#5 Unlock the Joy of Participation
The precious look on my child’s face when he was first in worship and heard the congregation start to say the Lord’s prayer. Wait! That is our family prayer. I know that prayer. Wow! They know that prayer. Wow! Everyone in this room is saying that prayer together. Voices raising in prayer are a form of sweet communion.
His joy at being able to participate in worship was only matched by the swelling of my heart in hearing him pray. He was worshiping. He was doing the work of the people in obeying Jesus’ command to pray and in offering that prayer in worship. Definitely, these are rote steps for worship, but that is how we get started in the dance of prayer.
Truly how sweet and precious are gathered voices in prayer. How wonderful it is to hear the low voices of the men around me, the growing voices of my daughters, and the added sweet, four-year-old voice of my son confidently joining in the chorus. The sounds rival an angel choir.
#6 Teach your Child the Lord’s Prayer because the Lord’s Prayer is Christ’s Prayer
Absolutely, we will eventually need to teach him what the big words mean. Unquestionably, we will need to explain ideas of forgiveness. Clearly, he will need some history and conversation to understand daily bread in a mostly gluten-free household that does not eat bread like historically people have relied on.
The understanding will come; first, we begin with the words of Christ. Is not this how we been to study scripture at first? We begin with the words of Christ, and then God adds meaning and understanding to them with time.
Finally, You now have six great reasons to teach your child the Lord’s Prayer. When did you teach your children about the Lord’s prayer? If you have not started, I encourage you to start at the supper table as soon as they can talk. Prayer is one of the key practices that we need to teach our children. Training them to pray to God daily will build a relationship that will last for a lifetime!