I briefly touched upon how my family does our nightly examen with children. I gave just a bare bones version and now I’m going back and considering it point by point. I’ve already posted on our first question of the examen for children, “Did I encourage others today?” (Bible Quotes: Encourage One Another) Today let’s consider, Examen for Children: Teaching Our Children Prayer.
Examen for Children
We ask ourselves and we ask our children to consider, “Did I pray frequently today? Did I pray for others?” And in these two questions we are leading them to the understanding that prayer is not only something we do before we eat, when someone is sick or when we need something. Our daily goal is to pray frequently–to pray always. (1 Thessalonians 5:17) This concept is difficult for me as an adult, so how do I teach my child to pray always? We do it by trying to cultivate in ourselves and teach the habit of prayer to our children. But first, to teach the habit, we have to know what we consider prayer to be.
Teresa of Avila said, “Prayer is nothing else than being on terms of friendship with God.” So, just as we teach our children how to be good friends and playmates at the park or in school, we teach them to be good friends with God. Tell them, “Just like you would call your friend or momma or daddy over to show us a pretty flower you found or an interesting bug, tell God about it. Thank Him for making the pretty flower, the creepy-crawly bug or the long stick.” That is how we begin to form the habit of prayer, the habit of conversation with God. They will learn to live in a constant state of thinking of God, showing God something neat, thanking God for something He made.
“He does not ask much of us, merely a thought of Him from time to time, a little act of adoration, sometimes to ask for His grace, sometimes to offer Him your sufferings, at other times to thank Him for the graces, past and present, He has bestowed on you, in the midst of your troubles to take solace in Him as often as you can. Lift up your heart to Him during your meals and in company; the least little remembrance will always be the most pleasing to Him. One need not cry out very loudly; He is nearer to us than we think.”
― Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God
My favorite line from the above quote…“He is nearer to us than we think.” We need to teach our children that foundational truth. God is always near them. How many of us need to learn that–me with my hand waving high!
And next, we teach our children, this conversation, this habit of conversing with God–because it is a habit–is not just for ourselves. Some of the best conversations we can have with God is when we start telling Him about our love for others. When we pray daddy has a good day at work, or the trash man is safe on the icy roads, we are talking to God, but in that conversation, we are praying for others.
And when our children tell us or the thought crosses our own minds, “I don’t know what or who to pray for,” we teach them to ask God. He will always honor one of His children asking how to pray for another of His children.
Teaching our children prayer is teaching them the habit of talking to God. To visit with Him, tell Him about their day, the neat things they found or their friends. The more we go through the examen for children, the more this habit of teaching our children prayer will become; the two habits: nightly examen and habitual prayer go hand in hand.
For more information please see the original post, Nightly Examen with Children.
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