A friend who is a mother of three has been requesting me to host her children and teach them how to pray. She says it is one activity they really don’t delight themselves in. The youngest will even throw tantrums when it is prayer time. The eldest will fake sickness so as to be excused from prayer.
Does my friend know how to pray? Yes she does but like most parents think, children will easily obey a stranger than mummy. This is why it is really hard for her to take on the initiative to be the teacher.
Have these children been praying from childhood or has she just started to bring it up? My guess is as good as yours but chances are, they have not been practising this from childhood otherwise they would know by now that they have no choice but to learn.
Should children be given the option of learning or not? I hate to sound like a dictator but prayer should not even be a topic for discussion. It should be a standing rule until they become adults, then they can take the path they choose—to pray or not.
Is it too late for them to learn considering the first born is eight years? Not at all, it is never too late for one to learn, understand and get accustomed to prayer. Although it is always easier done at a younger age.
So where to start? I would start by teaching them the Lord’s prayer. If you have younger children don’t worry about them and put them aside thinking that this prayer is long. With time they will learn to recite it along with the older siblings. My three-year old can clearly and confidently recite both the Lord’s prayer and the Grace prayer, which I have never time taught her. But she has always prayed along with the brother and sister from the moment she was able to murmur out a few words until she finally grasped it.
Secondly you need to be consistent and dedicated at the same time. Make it a daily routine. Let it be a rule in the home that you have a family prayer before bed time and before they dash off to school. Of course sometimes they will complain that they are tired or sleepy but with time they will enjoy it. One thing though: Don’t ever let your children give you an excuse not to pray. There is nothing as important as prayer. Everything else can wait.
As they grow older buy them personal bibles and explain to them a verse or bible story at least once a week. You can even play out a skit, so that it is both fun and educative. Always relate bible stories to daily life to make everything practical.
Lastly, always pray with and over your children. Speak life unto them. I am learning on a daily that as parents we have the authority to create our children into who we desire them to be. Speak blessings over your child and watch them blossom into that and more.