I’ve been avoiding topics related to religion and politics but I just really want to share this little experience I had recently with Ezra…
I admit I am not the most devout Christian you will encounter, and I have sinned so many times that I sometimes feel unworthy of God’s grace... but I pray, wholeheartedly.
Growing up as a Catholic who went to a Catholic school, part of me always smirked at memorized prayers that are recited just because. My parents always taught me that prayers are heartfelt conversations with God. And so, every time I say a scripted prayer in school (or church), I always try to go deep into its meaning and pray with my heart. Most of the time, I just silently pray on my own.
That is what I want to instill to my child. I want him to know that praying is naturally communicating with God about anything and everything. I want him to know that God is always there, and that He is ready to listen to whatever we want to tell him. I want my child to realize that if he recites verses or specific prayers like The Lord’s Prayer, he should understand the concept, pray by heart and not merely utter the words.
How do we do this?
The best way is to lead by example.
Ever since Ezra was a baby, I would pray with him (using my own simple words) upon waking up in the morning, before going to bed at night, and even on random hours of the day. I pray about anything and everything, too. Even just simply saying a short prayer of gratitude for a good meal, a fun day or a new friend.
I also pray with Ezra about things that scare, bother or startle us. For example, a powerful thunderstorm. I usually lead the prayer asking for God’s protection, and then I encourage Ezra to finish the prayer. This practice shows our child that we can talk to God about many different things, big and small, and that we should never fear because we have God as our protector.
I am happy that over the years, Ezra has grown to be a prayerful kid who never forgets to thank God for even the most mundane of things. He even thanks Him for other people’s joys or accomplishment! One time, he prayed saying “Thank you, God, because Lucas got a star from Teacher.” It left me speechless. Hearing that, I am overjoyed.
The other week, strong gusts of wind and heavy rain hit Manila. As the trees swayed with every waft, Ezra was looking out the window. “Thank you, Lord, for protecting me and Mommy and Daddy.”
Hearing him pray melts my heart. Every time.
Of course, not all his prayers make me say “awww”. Sometimes, his prayers surprise us with unexpected dollops of hilarity. Last night at bedtime, his prayer went like this:
“Dear Lord, thank you for saving us. Thank you for my toys... I don’t want to share my toys. Ok, Lord? Please? I don’t want to share my toys. Amen..”
Hahahaha! At least nagpaalam? Lol! Yes, it was comical. But he’s a 3-year-old and he was praying with all his heart. So who are we to say that his prayer is wrong? I mean, is any prayer really “wrong”? We can only enlighten and guide him about sharing and giving, but we cannot tell him (or other people) what to pray about.
As parents, we are to reinforce our children’s relationship with God through many ways including imbuing prayer as a regular part of their lives. There is no right time to teach our kids about this, too. It’s never too late nor too early. Remember, we are responsible in disciplining AND discipling our children.