Written by Vince, Christina, Isabella, and Abigail Bradburn
“Daddy, why are they talking about Halloween?”
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen. Matthew 6:9-13
When the girls were toddlers we needed a bedtime routine for our sanity! So, we followed the exact same routine every single night. We would start with bath time, followed by saying goodnight to every single stuffed animal in the room and we would end with reading a simple and cheap (they did still like to eat books!) illustrated version of the Lord’s Prayer. At first, like any other story, they were focused on the pictures. Abby would often point out the bread (she loved to eat) and Bella made sure we didn’t skip any pages because the pictures had to come in order or the world didn’t make sense! Innocent questions like “Daddy, why are they talking about Halloween?” from our three-year old referring to “hallowed be” in the Lord’s Prayer, provide insight into the great responsibility we have as parents to explain how and why we pray to our God.
Something we’ve learned as parents is that it’s ok for God to be a wonderful mystery. It’s also ok that our children are simply memorizing big words within verses for application later in their prayers. The most important task we have as parents is to make prayer as common as brushing teeth and bath time; to make it less mysterious and formal and more like the daily hugs and kisses we give them.
Even a prayer as formal as the Lord’s Prayer can carry meaning for our kids. Each stage of development can add a layer of meaning. At three years old, “hallowed” meant “special”, at ten years old, it now means “holy”. The village of adults who we have around us teaching our children about God have made this growth possible. We’ve also learned that we can’t do it by ourselves. We’ve come to value and appreciate the shared role that we and our church family have in helping our kids talk with their God.
As a family, pray the Lord’s Prayer together several times in a row. Each time, encourage a family member to use the words that make the most sense to them in the prayer – the ones that will carry the most meaning. “Give us our daily bread” can be “Give us what we need today.” Meaningful prayers with children start with allowing them to pray to their God in their own words. Just make sure you explain that it’s “hallowed be” and not “Halloween”!