As far back as my memories go, Jesus has always been an ever-present figure in my life. I don’t remember the exact day that my family introduced me to Him, but I can’t remember a time without Him.
Knowing this, I had no doubt that I wanted to do the same for my child. Being a cradle Catholic, church has always been a part of my life. Being baptized as a baby was one of my first big commitments to the church and to God, and it was my family’s way of making sure I would be raised with God as my center.
Throughout my life, my relationship with Him has ebbed and flowed into what it is now, and I’m still a work in progress. I’m also thankful that we were a church-going family. We may have missed quite a bit, but church and prayer was always important.
With that being said, I knew before having my first child that I wanted her to know Jesus as soon as she took her first breath into this world. I’ve done that by praying over her, praying with her, and now as she is getting to the pre-school age, I listen to her praying.
Here are some ways you can go about introducing Jesus and prayer into your child’s life from the very beginning.
Simple ways to introduce Jesus to your child:
Take them to church.
Take advantage of the days of slumber in the newborn stage. Babies will know it’s a familiar place. I was scared of illnesses at first, but keep them covered up in a carrier or on you, and they’ll be fine.Just use your best judgement.
I also worried about everything that could go wrong, but you just make it work. Once they are old enough to hold his/her head up, point out the cross and let them know it symbolizes Jesus. This starts the conversation of who Jesus is in their little minds. Every time we drive by any church now with a cross now, my little one shouts out, “There’s Jesus!” They’ll also see prayer happen in church. You might not think that it has an impact at such a young age, but it does.
Pray before meals.
When my baby was a newborn, we would pull her swing up close to the table, and include her in our mealtime prayer. Once she was old enough to sit close to the table in her high chair, we prayed holding her little hands. Now that she sits with us in a booster seat at the table, she’ll remind us to pray if we’re too slow, and she has even started to recite the words. Your prayer can be simple or a traditional one you’ve memorized, but I’ve found that repeating a similar prayer is great for their little sponge brains. My daughter will chime in when she thinks she knows the prayer, and it truly lights me up.
Pray at bedtime.
Similar to meal time praying, repetition is a great idea if you can’t think of a new prayer each night. Once my little girl was close to the age of three and in a toddler bed, she wanted to start kneeling at the foot of her bed. I think she’s started to do this because of what she sees us do at church. Our Catholic roots run deep! But it’s part of our nightly routine and part of our rhythm. She knows that bedtime means prayer time.
Read Christian children books.
Reading is another beautiful way to introduce Jesus and prayer. Some great options that talk about God and prayer are: God Gave Us You, Lift the Flap Bible, I Prayed for You, The Berenstain Bears Say Their Prayers, and The Story of Jesus (Little Golden Book). These are just a handful of the thousands of options you can find. Not only does reading reinforce a child’s development, it also plants the seed of a strong faith.
Make these things a habit!
The more you place Jesus in your life, the more your child will see it and feel it. We’re not perfect parents, but we can certainly be praying parents. And that is one thing we can be be sure of. Making prayer a part of your daily routine will definitely pay off in the long run.
Some might ask, “What if I haven’t introduced prayer to my child? Am I too late? Will my child ever know God?” And the answer is, it’s never too late for God. But helping shape a young mind is far easier than helping mold an older one. Know that it’s never too early for Jesus.
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
What are some ways you have introduced prayer to your child?
Kristy is a wife, mom, sister, friend, and former English teacher living in Houston, Texas. She now stays at home with her daughter, Charlotte, and is expecting another baby in September. Kristy also will be releasing her first Bible study around the same time. She loves writing and is passionate about living a life full of grace. She blogs at Seven Graces, a place where she shares stories about her faith, family, and favorite things.