For anyone who practices a faith tradition, I think it’s of utmost importance for us to pass this faith along to our children. We bring our children to our place of worship, teach them to pray, and read books about our beliefs. One thing I particularly love about my faith are the many sensorial aspects of our worship that make it easier to engage young children.
We light candles.
We kiss icons.
We watch the incense in the censer.
We hear the priest read from the Holy Gospel.
We receive the Body and Blood through communion.
It is a veritable feast for the senses! And yet, I sometimes wonder if it’s enough. Is bringing my daughter to church weekly, praying together each morning, and cultivating her relationships with her priest and Orthodox family enough to ensure her faith remains strong?
I recently stumbled across this saying from Elder Epiphanios “Speak more to God about your children, than to your children about God.”
This seems beautiful and reassuring to me. Yes, I will continue to do all of the things above, and then some (trips to the monastery, attending Church school, etc.), but at the heart and soul of this faith are my words to God for my child.
Most of my prayers these days seem to center on thanking God for the beautiful gift of my daughter, and praying that the fruits of the Spirit be cultivated in her. I’ve also found the following prayers so very helpful as I continue learning ways to seek blessings for my child:
“O God, our heavenly Father, who loves mankind and are a most merciful and compassionate God, have mercy upon Your servant/handmaiden name(s), for whom I humbly pray to You to care for and protect. O God, be her guide and guardian in all her endeavors, lead her in the path of Your truth, and draw her nearer to You, so that she may lead a godly and righteous life in Your love as she does Your will in all things. Give her Your grace, and mercy so that she may be patient, hard working, tireless, devout, and charitable. Defend her against the assaults of the enemy, and grant her wisdom and strength to resist all temptation and corruption, and direct her to the way of Salvation, through the goodness of our Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, and the prayers of His Holy Mother and the blessed saints. Amen.”
This section of the Akathist to the Mother of God “Nurturer of Children” is one of my favorites, but the whole prayer is lovely:
“Raise my children to be leaders in doing the will of Thy Son and God.
Raise my children to hate sin and all transgressions.
Raise my children to love good and all virtue.
Raise my children in blameless purity.
Raise my children to ascend the ladder of their lives every day.
Raise my children to turn their eyes to Thy compassion in the midst of sorrows.
Raise my children to serve Thee in obedience and chastity.
Raise my children name(s), O Lady, to be made worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven and make them heirs of eternal blessings.”
And if you are a bit short on time, the Jesus prayer is the best:
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon my daughter Josephine.”
What prayers do you say for your children? How do engage your children in your faith?