Every night before bed we say our prayers. We’ve watched our prayers with our sons evolve from a simple, ‘Now I lay me down to sleep…’ to specific prayers for people they know, things that worry them, and words of thanks and gratitude for the things in their lives. As I’ve had more children, I’ve realized the earlier I can get them acclimated to the idea as normal and second nature, the easier it becomes to connect to God and to really have a conversation with Him about the things that matter to you, and not always having the thing that matters to them most be themselves. When my youngest was 1, he’s almost 4 now, I decided to create a prayer pail. Each night before bed I let him pick out a stick, or two or three, if he feels so inclined and we say a prayer for whoever or whatever is listed on the stick. He has come to look forward to the surprise of who or what he will be praying for and excited about including others in our nightly prayers. Originally, we just did sticks for our immediate family. Now, we have sticks for everyone: extended family, the ‘lost’, and even our church. We also have a ‘thankful’ stick, so he can tell God what he is thankful for too. For us, this has been the perfect tool to teach our son a loose form for prayer in a way that even a toddler can understand.
To make the prayer sticks I just wrote on Popsicle sticks with different color sharpies. I punched holes in them using my crop-a-dile and then threaded different ribbon into the holes and tied to give them a bit of pizzazz. Our ‘pail’ is a metal Batman pail from Target’s $ bins.