I didn't grow up praying daily. So, as an adult I initially struggled to make it a priority. Sure, I prayed throughout the day, but I knew God wanted me to spend dedicated quiet time with Him every day. In an effort to change this for my children, I'm teaching them to begin the morning in prayer. I'm hoping that if my kids learn this routine as toddlers, then they will easily carry it with them into adulthood.
In our previous two homes, I had a prayer closet where our then two-year-old joined me every morning. When she turned three, we had yet another prayer closet in yet another home (thank you, Army). Now that our daughter is four and we're in annnoooother place, our current house doesn't have room to create a prayer closet. Hence, the creation of a prayer journal.
To create a child's prayer journal, you need the following:
Notebook or binder and paper
Glue or tape
Pens, crayons, markers, and/or pencils
Your child can organize the prayer journal in absolutely any way that works for your family. I teach my children to begin their prayers with thanks, based on Psalm 100:4: "Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name." With this in mind, the first page of Adeline's journal is a picture of Jesus, so she can thank Him for whatever her little four-year-old mind conjures.
After the opening image of Jesus, I let her arrange the pictures we printed in any order she desired. Before beginning this project, she sat with me on the computer and chose the images she wanted to add to her journal. We included pictures of immediate family members, extended family, close friends, our sponsor child (through World Vision), her classmates and teacher, and the President of the United States. Add to this list whatever is important to your family.
Adeline loved sorting through each image and found great joy in organizing and choosing pictures. Being a military family, we aren't near most of the people in her journal so there was a lot of reminiscing present during this part of the project.
She used a glue stick to adhere each image to the page and placed them wherever her heart desired.
To turn this into a learning activity, I also had our daughter write the names of the people in the images on the designated page. Based on your child's age, you can adapt the reading and writing aspect to whatever is age appropriate.
On Adeline's personal page, I added her life verse and the literal and spiritual meanings of her name.
Next, I added a page where she can list and praise God for her answered prayers. She is learning that He doesn't always answer our prayers as we hope, but I want her to be able to SEE the power of her prayers when He says, "Yes!"
The rest of the notebook remains blank, so this will be a continuous project that we can constantly add to as prayer needs arise, she makes new friends and new family members come along. The very last thing I did was to write "Prayer Journal" on the cover of her notebook. This would be a fun place for your child to take the reigns and decorate to his or her liking. Let your child choose a notebook or binder that inspires him or her so he or she will be drawn to open it and begin praying. For our Adeline, pink and sparkly was the only way to go on this project.
Integrate this prayer journal into your daily routine wherever it makes sense for your family. For us, it looks like this: Adeline wakes us in the morning and I try to remember to pray aloud over her for the day. I make the two of us breakfast and while we eat I read aloud from the designated section in our yearly Bible. After that, we each take out our prayer journals and pray--both together and independently, silently and out loud. It is a profoundly beautiful sight to see my daughter, God's child, sweetly praying over the lives of so many. If we start them early, imagine the potential for these little prayer warriors!
I pray this prayer journal inspires you to make prayer a priority in the life of your family. In order to be successful, it looks different for all of us. Choose the time of day that is most effective for your child. Pick the medium that best suits your house (prayer closet or prayer journal), and most of all, make the prayers personal to your child. Blessings on this endeavor as we strive to teach our children how to be faithful servants, no matter how young or how old. It is never too late to start!