Press 'STOP' at the end of the day...
We live in very busy times, with lots of things on the go. It is no different for our children. Where do we find God? God of course is present with us in all our busyness, but we also need to stop and give God our undivided attention. Let's explore how to press STOP at the end of the day. How do we help children to stop and spend time with God? It’s certainly not easy!
We asked some children for their ideas, our team contributed their favourite tips, and we have included a couple of simple suggestions. Because no one has time for complicated!
Stonehouse and May in their book, Listening to Children on the Spiritual Journey, interviewed parents about their night-time rituals. What did they do at the end of the day to help their children meet with God? They discovered that for some parents this time was precious, and they spoke of being humbled and amazed at the depth and sincerity of their children’s prayers.
But other parents spoke of the difficulties. Bedtimes can be rough, parents are often exhausted. Some parents were unhappy with the quality of nightly prayers that just seemed to be the same list of requests or thanksgiving.
But when Stonehouse and May interviewed their children, they heard a rather different story! Stonehouse and May asked children: ‘Where do you talk to God? Where do you sense God’s presence with you?’ And their answer: Their bedroom or bed.
Even though parents expressed their disappointment,
children mentioned their bed and bedroom more
frequently than any other place where they talked
to God and sensed God’s presence.
What a great encouragement to us that our simple, end-of-the-day practices, as small as they may seem, are of great value.
Keep it Simple:
Faith Five: One practice we have found works very successfully on our children’s camps is called Faith Five. This is a method based on the practice of the Examin, an ancient way of examining the day. It can be incorporated into a bedtime routine for five to fifteen minutes a night, or can be used during a meal time. It has five steps, hence the name. Click here to read more!
Bedtime blessings: Here's a simple blessing that one mum prays over each of her children each night as she tucks them in:
“May the peace of Jesus fill you,
The love of Jesus surround you,
And the presence of Jesus guard you,
Now as you sleep, and all your life."
“My grandfather gave me a handwritten card when I was a girl with a blessing written on it. I had it glued to my wooden headboard of my bed and I would read it to myself at bedtime. A simple gesture that was one thread of faith that was woven into my life.” Annette Osborne
Praying together at the end of the day, is an important part of faith for the family or whanau. This might be daunting for some families, especially if they have recently joined the church.
- How do we help parents to pray with their children?
- How can I teach my child to pray when I don’t know how to pray myself?
One of the best ways for parents to learn to pray is by praying with their children. That may sound simplistic, but prayer is about relationship and the more we pray the easier it becomes. As families begin praying together parents will discover that they do not do all the teaching. Their children are teachers also.
Here's one simple way to begin:
One pastor developed a plan to help his families pray together. He began by talking about the importance of family prayer during the church service and then gave them a simple tool to use – a brochure on prayer. In the brochure were printed prayers for morning and evening with suggestions on how to use them. The morning prayer could be prayed at the breakfast table or in the car on the way to school and work. The evening prayer could be used at bedtime. He also gave questions to help the family move beyond the printed prayers. In the morning the question was: ‘What is a concern you have for today?’ In the evening it was ‘what do you want to thank God for?’
What practices, ideas or resources have you used to help families connect with God at the end of each day? We would love to hear from you!