Question of the Week

What, if anything, should be the role of prayer in childhood?


  1. I guess that depends on what you believe about a higher power. I’ve never been much for formal prayers, but I have been known to “talk” to God in my head. I assume we pass on our own habits to our kids. But I don’t think it should be forced on them, especially in public forums.

  2. AnneB

    I guess this is really for parents to decide, isn’t it? I know folks who regularly pray before meals, while we don’t. We’re an atheist/liberal Christian couple, so we don’t really mix well when it comes to religious beliefs in the home. I don’t think you should ever beat kids over the head with something like prayer, but if it’s important to you and you have kids I think they should learn from you why you feel it’s important. And where the parents agree on faith, I think it’s appropriate for them to be teaching their beliefs to their kids; heck even where they don’t agree — but they shouldn’t use those differences as a tool to belittle the other parent or create a war of ideas with the child in the middle. I don’t think it’s appropriate for a family to impose their beliefs on others — no snarkiness in a restaurant when others aren’t doing a blessing prior to a meal, but I also don’t think it’s necessary for the family to hide that tradition at home and NOT share a blessing with each other if they’re eating out.

  3. Originally I wanted to put a flip answer like “I pray I don’t get caught stealing the last of the cookies out of the jar!” but everyone else has been so eloquent! Clearly I am going to have to finish my coffee and wake up enough to construct a better answer. Y’all are awesome.

  4. Alice

    Introducing prayer for children is important. It would sort of be like introducing them to art, music, crafts, reading etc. Part of what they need to know about to move on with life. As they get older, they can take or leave any of it according to their own development. Like trying piano lessons and realizing they had no talent or interest in it at some point. Or drawing and painting and moving on to something else instead. I sort of remember (it was long long ago) being terrified at the concept of “Now I lay me down to sleep… and if I die before I wake I pray the Lord my soul to take…” Eeek – I was too young to thing about being dead and was afraid to go to sleep. But children could learn that asking God for something in a prayer isn’t like asking Santa ( or your parents or grandparents) for presents. If the prayer to God isn’t answered, a child has that opportunity to learn about disappointments in life. And sometimes the prayers are granted. God has a plan… Sometimes the rituals of prayer learned in childhood stay with a person forever – I can remember seeing my grandfather kneeling by his bed at night to pray. Something I gave up long ago. But I do still pray in my own way, even if it’s not Hail Mary’s and Lord’s Prayers. So, children should be introduced to prayer and religion as part of parental responsibility for their child’s personal development.

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