In modern Christian culture, we pray before meetings, before we travel, and we even use prayer as a “transition” during worship. Genuine prayer and communion with God is always a good thing, but with the proliferation of prayer in our culture, we sometimes run the risk of of prayer simply becoming part of the routine. One time in particular that is in danger of routinization is when we pray three times a day before meals. Check out these tips on how to teach kids about saying “grace,” and help them avoid the prayer pitfall.
1. Teach kids about prayer. One of the first steps in teaching kids about saying “grace” is to provide some teaching on prayer in general. Very simply, prayer is a conversation with God. We should be honest when we pray, expressing our concerns, fears, frustrations, and requests, but we should also remember that we are speaking to the creator and ruler of the universe. As such, we should have an attitude of thanksgiving, adoration, and reverence, not one of entitlement. Perhaps two of the best passages in Scripture dealing with prayer are Matthew 6 and Luke 22. In Matthew 6, Jesus teaches his disciples the “model prayer,” and in Luke 22, we see Jesus earnestly lifting up his request (take this cup away from me), while still lovingly submitting to the will of the Father (not My will, but Yours, be done). These passages are a great starting point for teaching kids more about prayer.
2. Teach kids specifically about prayer before meals. A great passage for teaching this truth is also found in Luke 22 and the story of the Lord’s supper. In Luke’s version, there are two cups—the cup of thanksgiving and the cup of the new covenant. Jesus took the first cup, gave thanks and shared it with his disciples. The meal that they shared together was a passover meal, which was a time to think about and remember the great acts of God in delivering the Israelites from the Egyptians and to reflect on his provision for his people throughout history. As we follow this example, it is appropriate for us to offer a prayer of thanksgiving before meals and to reflect on the mighty acts of God and the ways that he has provided for us through Christ. Teaching about Jesus’ example will help kids avoid the prayer pitfall when they say “grace.”
3. Model prayer before meals well. As with most things, it is important to teach kids, but it is also equally important to model prayer before meals well. Kids watch and imitate the things that adults do, so we must be careful to examine our own heart and prayers. Remember, though, that prayer is a conversation with God. Check your attitude to make sure that you are not trying to “impress” kids with your prayers. God offers a strong word against this, too (Matthew 6)! In addition to modeling, allow kids the opportunity to say “grace.” Kids can learn from other kids, too.
At CentriKid this summer, we will be teaching kids more about prayer and how disciples can embrace God through prayer, and I am excited for kids to gain a deeper understanding of how to commune with God.
Looking for more? Check out these additional posts on prayer: