I remember the first time I realized that part of teaching my children was going to include teaching them how to converse. My oldest daughter was just starting to try to have conversations with us at the dinner table each night. At first, it started with her just talking over us. Then after telling her she should ask questions, it switched to a single question over and over, “What did you do yesterday?” Why yesterday and why always the same question? I still don’t know. However, in that moment I realized that we would have to coach her a bit in having a conversation. If prayer is a conversation with God, we will have to coach our kids in the same way...
We hear about prayer in our churches all the time. We hear our priests preach about its importance. We hear reminders to pray regularly. We hear invitations to communal prayer opportunities within our parish setting. We are encouraged to come and pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament. However, amidst all of this talk of prayer, many find themselves asking questions like, “what exactly is prayer” and even more importantly as parents, “how do you teach a child to pray.”
“When God calls, you respond!” We hear things like this all the time. We sing it in our hymns; can anyone say “…Here I am Lord…” It always sounds so easy. He speaks, we get to work. However, when I have heard that call, I have not always been so quick to respond. I often drag my feet. I doubt myself. I give in to fear. I let comfort win. Not to mention questioning if something is from God or not (but that is a topic for another day). When God calls, my actual response is often something more like, “here I am, your idea sounds great, I’ll sit with that for a while.” I’m not saying that discernment should be fast, but often I discern and have then been slow to action.
Zack Hinger is a husband and father of 3 girls. He worked in parish ministry for over 8 years in all ages of formation from preschool through adulthood. He has a B.A. from the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Theology and Catechetics. His passions are God, his family, and helping others journey towards a closer relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church.