Monday, 19 November 2018

Ask a Child: 'How may I pray for you?'

 

By Janet Lund

Prayer  Request  =  Key  to  the  Heart

Back  when  I  was  doing  youth  ministry,  a  question  I  often  asked  my  kids  was,  “How  can  I  pray  for  you  this  week?”  I  loved  the  look  in  their  eyes  the  first  time  I  asked.  Initially,  they  would  seem  puzzled  and  then  a  slight  smile  would  appear.

It  was  clear  they  appreciated  being  asked,  especially  by  an  adult.  Having  a  grownup  inquire  about  their  world  made  them  feel  valued.  The  routine  of  asking  this  question  and  listening  as  they  shared  built  a  relational  connection  much  faster  than  just  talking  about  the  day.  Providing  them  the  space  to  lead  the  conversation  and  express  whatever  feelings  they  were  willing  to  share  was  a  gift  to  them.

I  also  found  their  sharing  a  gift  to  me.  If  a  kid  is  willing  to  trust  me  with  a  piece  of  their heart  I  should  view  that  moment  as  holy  ground.  When  we  listen  well  and  respect  what  matters  to  a  child’s  heart,  it  grows  a  connection  between  you.  Something  like  that  should  be  honored  and  nurtured.

Once,  I  even  had  a  parent  confide  in  me  that  their  son  had  shared  that  I  cared  about  him because  I  listened  and  prayed  for  him.

Language  of  the  Heart

A  counselor  and  good  friend  of  mine  recently  shared  with  me  that  “emotions  are  the  currency  of  relational  connection.”  When  we  share  and  listen  to  each  other’s  hearts  we  build  a  bridge  of  deeper  understanding.

Prayer  Requests  for  All  Ages

This  being  the  case,  I  encourage  you  to  use  this  same  question  with  your  own  child.  

A  preschooler  would  treasure  being  asked,  “How  can  I  pray  for  you  today?”  before  heading  off  to  school.  Even  little  people  have  things  they  worry  about  and/or  look  forward  to  each  day.

Providing  your  child  space  to  verbalize  their  feelings  will  nurture  their  heart,  make  them  feel  loved,  and  give  you  great  insight  into  what  is  going  on  in  their  world.  They  may  talk  about  friends,  classmates,  neighbors,  subjects  in  school,  or  how  well  they  get  along  with  their  teacher.  You  will  grow  your  understanding  of  them  so  much  deeper  than  you  would  by  asking  a  yes/no  or  direct  question.

Keep  Communication  Flowing  with  Your  Young  Adults

When  your  child  moves  out  of  the  house  and/or  starts  college,  they  will  become  more  independent  (good)  and  possibly  less  communicative  (not  so  good).  Try  reaching  out  to  them  by  calling  or  texting  them  each  week  and  asking,  “How  can  I  pray  for  you  this  week?”  to  keep  communication  flowing.

This  open-ended  question  gives  them  the  freedom  to  share  what  they  wish  with  you.  Even  if  it  isn’t  as  much  information  as  you  would  like,  it  keeps  the  door  open.  Otherwise  your  conversation  may  sound  more  like  a  game  of  “20  questions”  where  they  feel  like  they  are  getting  grilled.  This  kind  of  exchange  lacks  the  emotional  connection  you  need  to  even  maintain  your  relationship,  let  alone  enhance  it.

Prayer  requests  are  an  excellent  way  to  communicate  to  your  child,  “I  care  about  what  is  going  on  inside  of  your  heart.”  

Validate  their  feelings.  Know  their  heart.  Keep  love  flowing.

Janet  Lund  is  a  relationship  coach  who  specializes  in  nurturing  the  bond  between  moms  and  their  teen/pre-teen  daughters.  She  leads  moms  through  coaching,  speaking,  and  songwriting.  Janet  has  spoken  and  performed  in  Canada,  the  United  States,  and  Norway.  Follow  her  on facebook.com/momkeepcalm and  visit  her  website  momkeepcalm.com for  parenting  tools  and  words  of  support  to  be  a  calm  mom.

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