Finding an easy children’s prayer is as simple as a google search, isn’t it? Except putting them into practice can be harder than it seems. Prayers at night tend to drag on as kids decide that taking up more of mom and dad’s time is great, because it delays bedtime, but heading to bed early doesn’t always work if you’re out somewhere, either. One of the ones that we have taught is a simple one from a Precious Moments doll, a variation of ‘now I lay me down to sleep’… I currently say that one with my 2 year old and she always chimes in on the last word of each line, and she’s slowly memorizing the rest of it, eventually she’ll be able to do it on her own, but what about when the kids get older?
Praying with your kids, whether you pray a lot or not can be a very centering thing. It can help them be grateful, think of others, and if you do it out loud, can help you have an idea of what they want and need in kind of a sneaky way. It’s also a very personal thing. Although it’s just a simple conversation with God, it can be very emotional and it has a lot of tradition tied to it that can inhibit even the most spiritual from taking the few minutes each day. Many adults, even those raised in a church, still picture praying as kneeling beside a bed in slippers and a nightcap. I don’t know about you, but that made me less likely to want anything to do with it. I’d rather pray laying down in a cozy warm bed, thank you very much! No matter how you pray, I have an easy children’s prayer that works as a guide even for adults!
Our pastor recently taught our kids the 5 finger prayer. It’s easy enough for kids to remember, and thankfully it makes some sort of sense, and has built in reminders as to where you are, so if the kids drag it on a bit, it’s easy to get back on track. If you have 5 fingers or a picture of a hand, or your child has all digits intact, you’re all set. You work from inside to out, starting with the thumb, holding up the finger to keep track and it goes like this:
Finger 1- Thumb: pray about those close to you (family, friends, stuffed animals)– easy way to remember is that your thumb is the closest to your body.
Finger 2-Pointer: pray for those that point your way (pastor, teacher, doctor)– easy way to remember is that, well, it’s your pointer!
Finger 3-Middle: pray for those that are in charge/government (president)– easy way to remember is that it’s the tallest finger.
Finger 4-Ring: pray for those who are weak (ill, nursing home, elderly)– easy way to remember is that that finger doesn’t move on it’s own, it needs help.
Finger 5-Pinky: pray for yourself–easy way to remember is that your prayers for yourself should be the smallest and pray for yourself last.
A couple of notes, despite the massive irony of the 3rd finger– in the United States if used alone it signifies a rude gesture–and to suggest that it represents the government, well, I will admit to giggling a little bit about that. My children are NOT aware of that fact. At all. But the other kids were…. you see where this is going, right? The pastor says, no don’t hold it up by itself, hold your hand ‘like this’ and demonstrates holding out thumb, pointer and middle all at once, and my 7 year old pipes up ‘but I can hold it up alone, see?!?’… and flips off the entire congregation.
So when teaching your child the 5 finger prayer, don’t hold up each finger alone, unless you want to inadvertently have them flipping people off if they use it out in public (say before a meal at a restaurant table)…. just a little tip from the abashed mom in the 2nd pew. Kids.