Teaching your child to pray

For parents who believe in prayer, hearing their child pour his or her heart to a Creator can be a heartwarming experience. But then, the ability to pray does not come naturally to children. They have to be taught.

Why teach a child to pray? A study by Centra State Hospital concluded that, "the psychological benefits of prayer may help reduce stress and anxiety, promote a more positive outlook, and strengthen the will to live."  Parents who believe in prayer my want their child to benefit from these and more benefits.
 Unfortunately for most young people, prayer is all about repeating the same words over and over again to an unseen and unknown invisible person.  Growing up, I remember we would say prayers before starting school and yet my mind was not there because I did not really understand it all.

For a child to understand and value prayer parents should:
  1. Explain why we have to pray – prayer is communication with a Creator/ Higher power
  2. Explain to the child that a Creator is real (He made the earth etc). This is a chance to trash Evolution.
  3. Tell the child that a Creator can listen to them where ever they are.
  4. Explain to the child that s/he can pray about anything.
  5. Lead by example by praying with the child and talk from the heart rather than using a prayer book.

Whether prayer works or not differs according to each person’s belief. However if prayer is going to, at least make a child feel safer and have a more positive attitude towards life and maybe help them to be well-behaved. I think it’s worth it.  

There are parents who will argue that it’s wrong to teach a child to pray or to be religious when they are young. These parents argue that children should be taught about such things when they are old enough to make their decision. But then, children are like a blank computer screen. If the parents don’t type something on that screen someone else will do it for them.

I agree that it’s wrong to force children to commit to a particular religion when they are still too young because as soon as they leave home they will rebel. It’s all about reaching the heart of a child so that when s/he grows up s/he will make a wise and informed decision.

Do you teach your children to pray or do you believe children shouldn't be exposed to religion at a young age?

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24