May 15, 2011

Fighting Over Prayer

I love my children. I love their little hearts and their enthusiasm for prayer. I do not love that every family or meal prayer contains a fight over who gets to voice the prayer.
There are typically three prayers in the day we say as a whole family. There are four of us. Daddy is pretty good at putting people in rotation, but of necessity, SOMEONE is bound to get left out on a certain day. Usually it's a parent. Yesterday it was The Boy, and he was heartbroken. I tried to explain, but he felt so left out of our family that it made me so sad.

How do I help these little people understand that prayer is special? That it's a chance for us to visit with our Father in Heaven and be thankful for our many blessings? It's not a popularity contest, it's not something to be fought over?

Needless to say, the Spirit has be lacking in our home at prayer time for a while now. This is not helped by a two year old who doesn't see the need to maintain prayer manners if she's not the one saying the prayer.

I'm at my wit's end. Advice? PLEASE?


Christina MC said...

when there are disputes at our house we remind firmly that daddy is the priesthood holder and therefore assigns prayers in rotation

Mommymita said...

Hi Becky -

We have that problem too. What is worse is sometimes my children rob the reverence of the prayer by punching and pinching while parent's eyes are closed.

Lately I've been discussing with my children the difference between "saying" a prayer and "feeling" a prayer. Reminding them a prayer is much more than words, but a feeling and connection that runs through our hearts. At times a group effort and all can participate in a single prayer with their heart. That allows even more power to prayer.

The way we do this is a quiet 2 minutes of reverence before the prayer to prepare our hearts. (it also calms them before a "feeding frenzy")

Usually with all the older ones still the younger ones follow. Sometimes when someone cries over getting to say a prayer I recognize that as a need for attention and will take them aside after the prayer, hold them on my lap and allow them to offer a quiet personal prayer. I'll say something like "it sounds like you do need a prayer, come over here with me and I will listen to you pray".

All that said, sometimes we do have the younger ones offer an additional prayer at the table, at which most the older ones laugh at the cute things that surface.

Good luck!

melissa said...

Those first two comments have some great advice, so instead of echoing what’s already been said, I'll just throw my two cents in. Have patience and a sense of humor about it. Yes, teaching reverence and proper prayer etiquette is important. But this is also just a phase that will be over before you know it (aren't they all?) and, in my experience, all kids go through it.