1. Prayer Teaches Them to Cast All Their Cares
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I don't know about you, but my little ones worry about everything. They care deeply about everything that happens in the run of a day: an unkind word spoken, a mistake made, a harsh look given. I noticed that when we started praying consistently with them before bed, a lot of these common childhood cares and anxieties subsided. Of course, they talk to their dad and me about the things that bother them - the things that make them anxious or upset, but when they started pouring their hearts out to God about those same issues, we noticed them falling asleep faster.
As an example, our four-year-old daughter consistently asks God for protection from "bad guys." Our six-year-old always prays that everyone in the world would "be nice." Our daughter is bothered by bad guys she has seen in cartoons, while our son is bothered by kids he has witnessed being unkind to others at school. Just as adults have fears and worries, our children have them too. Being able to voice those cares and concerns and cast them on the One who made them and wants good things for their lives is a blessing for them before bed. In one study:
"Researchers from Baylor University found that people who pray to a loving and protective God are less likely to experience anxiety-related disorders — worry, fear, self-consciousness, social anxiety and obsessive-compulsive behavior — compared to people who pray but don't really expect to receive any comfort or protection from God."
Our children expect to receive comfort and protection from God. They are not yet cynical; they are not yet jaded by the things of the world around them. What a gift to teach them this now before the cares of this life seep into their souls. What a wonderful habit to create before the hardships and heartaches become so much more prominent in their lives. I think of Proverbs 22:6 that says: "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it."
As their parent, it is my responsibility to teach them good hygiene in all areas: physical, mental, spiritual, etc. It is my calling as their mom to teach them healthy habits now, so they carry on with them for the rest of their lives. Of course, there is always a chance they won't continue to pray as adults, but there is also a chance they won't continue to brush their teeth because of their own God-given free will. I really do think prayer is a gift God gives to each of us to calm our hearts and clear our minds: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." -Philippians 4:6
It is a gift to give my children this anxiety-reducing tool now and already see it working in their hearts and minds. They often breathe a sigh of relief when they say "amen," and it truly is the sweetest thing. It is truly a joy to see 1 Peter 5:7 in action in our own home at bedtime: "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you..." -1 Peter 5:7
Baylor study reference
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