This post, part of our month-long series about God, is by Joyce Anderson, one of the winners of our writing contest.
I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some people call us “The Mormon.” Despite what you’ve heard, what you think about Mitt Romney, or what Broadway musicals say about us, we’re pretty normal people who just want to teach our children how to be godly in an increasingly godless world.
After my first son was born, and after the shock of motherhood started to wear off, I realized that I needed to start thinking about how I was going to teach my son about God, Heaven, Jesus Christ, and all of the other things we believe. I felt overwhelmed at the task in front of me, and I really didn’t know what to do, other than pray.
I prayed for a long time and asked the Lord for help, for direction, and for a huge clue about what I was supposed to be doing. In a very quiet moment the answer came to me like a small, heavenly whisper. “Teach him to pray. Teach him how to talk to me.” But that was only part of the answer. HOW, was my next question? How do I teach a toddler to pray? I prayed for more guidance. Again, in another quiet moment, that same heavenly whisper came and suggested I use the prayer chart from my days as a missionary. Back then we had a flip chart with scripture verses, pictures, and sayings that we would use when we would teach people about our church. One of the pages in the chart had an outline for how to say a prayer. That was it. I would use that lesson to teach my son how to pray.
That night I knelt beside his bed and explained to him that prayer was how we talked to our Father in Heaven. We could pray anytime and anywhere. We could kneel down and pray, or just pray in our hearts and minds if we needed to, but that our Heavenly Father wanted us to talk to him each day. I then explained that we started our prayers by first saying, “Our Heavenly Father.” Next we thanked God for our blessings by saying, “We thank thee for…” In the third step we ask God for the things we need, or share our hearts with him, “We ask thee…” Finally, when we are done, we close our prayer, “In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”
I taught my son that lesson every night for a year. We moved from me saying a simple prayer, to him repeating after me as I was praying, to finally him being able to say his own prayers. And the prayers of a 4-year-old are sweet indeed. It’s during these times I am able to find out what is important to him. Lately, he asks that we will be safe and that we can get cookies at the grocery store. As I listen to my son pray, I feel like I am learning about who he is, which in turn is teaching me more about who I am. I believe in prayer. I believe it is powerful and sweet all at the same time. I cherish my son’s prayers and am thankful for the lessons prayer has taught us and that we have this powerful tool to guide us in our lives.
Before she put on her mom jeans, Joyce served a mission for the LDS Church in Bulgaria, graduated from Brigham Young University and taught high school social studies. She enjoys cooking with her kids, singing, reading, and collecting retro junk. She can be found on Twitter and on Pinterest.
To read all of the post in this series, click here.