An article in Our Sunday Visitor Engage magazine by Dr. Joseph White, a National Catechetical Consultant, encourages parents that one of the most important lessons to teach their children about the Catholic faith is that God loves them. But to truly do this we must teach them to pray. One lesson about prayer is that it is both talking AND listening.
In the book, "The Way of Prayer," Pope John Paul II states, "When we hold a conversation with someone, we not only speak, but we also listen. Prayer therefore is also listening." Children should be taught that God wants to speak to them and that, while they may not hear him in the same way they hear family members and friends, God does make himself known.
Another important aspect of prayer is that talking to God can take many forms. St. Terese of Lisieux taught us that even the little everyday things we do can be offered as prayer to God.
Creating a prayer space in your home can also be helpful for children in praying because it serves as a reminder of God's presence in your home and the need to connect with him. A simple home altar can be a small table with a religious statue, a Bible and candle. You can also have a Rosary and other sacramentals in that prayer space.
The forms of prayer we use should fit the age of our children. Toddlers and two-year olds will benefit from pictures of Jesus and statues. They can be encouraged to say, "Hi" or "I love you Jesus". They can be taught the sign of the cross and sing hymns. Older children should be taught traditional prayers such as The Our Father, Hail Mary then as they get older taught spontaneous prayer. Spontaneous prayer helps us to develop the unique relationship God desires with each of us. We should teach them to thank God for what he has done, praise God for who he is. We can also teach them prayers of petition and intercession.
Above all teaching our children young and old that God loves them and he wants to richly bless them with his love and mercy. God always forgives when we are sorry.
May God richly bless your efforts to share his love with your little ones!