I think back to when and how I learned to pray namaz [islamic prayer], and I don’t actually remember formally being taught by someone all of the actions of prayer. It’s something that I don’t remember learning, because I was very, very young when I learned it.
My mother tells me how my Nanna [maternal grandmother] taught me to recite prayers when I was three years old. I have vague memories of lying in bed, tucked in her arm and repeating after her words over and over again, every night. I remember setting up my janamaz [prayer mat] next to my father’s, and mimicking his actions as best I could. Prayers and worship is not something I learned, it’s something that I lived with everyday through my elders.
And so the question I ask myself today as a parent is when should I teach my children to pray? I don’t think there’s any wrong time to do it. I just wonder what’s the best approach. Here I am pondering over this question, revisiting it, discussing with my husband, and I haven’t even realized that they are already learning it.
My daughter Ridha is a close observer, and she learns by watching something just once. Repetition is just a way of confirmation for her after she has already grasped the concept. I am blessed to have elders in my life that have impacted my daughter. And I have realized now that my smallest actions are helping to build her foundation.
Here are some ways I find have helped my daughters to learn the concept of prayer.
- Taking my children to Masjid [Mosque].
Although I am blessed to have been able to take my daughter to Iraq, Makkah and Medina, I can’t constantly fly over there. But doing our part and taking them to the Masjid [mosque] at a very early age and whenever possible has made a powerful impact. Like I mentioned, Ridha is an observer. She watches the motions of Jama’at namaz (congregational prayer) and tries her best to copy it. (She just doesn’t get the correct direction sometimes)
- Praying in front of them.
Making sure that I pray in front of both my daughters is pretty important. Many times I think to myself, I’ll wait until nap time so that I can pray in peace. But I’ve made the change and began praying in front of them so that they can observe and learn by seeing me. My daughters already want to copy everything I do. What better action for them to adopt than prayer.
- Involve other elders.
This one happened naturally, and had very little to do with me. There is some sort of gravitational pull that exists between grandparents and grandchildren, because they are just naturally drawn to each other. My daughters love to be near all four of their grandparents. Grandparents will take the time and patience needed to teach a child, when we parents are too busy in survival mode. Give your children time with this older generation. They’ll be able to teach young ones the things that you can’t, in a manner that you can’t. It’s a really beautiful blessing.
It really is never too early to teach your child how to pray, how to fast, and any other act. The earlier the better. The younger they are, the more information they are able to absorb. I’ve learned that the time is now, and building that foundation is evermore significant. There’s still a lot for them to learn, but we’re going to keep working on it.
What are some ways you’ve introduced the concept of prayer with your little ones? I’m always looking for ways to engage my daughters and would love to hear from you.
9 thoughts on “When Should I Teach My Child To Pray?”
This is a beautiful post and I found it so thought-provoking. I can understand the desire to pray in peace, but also the desire to demonstrate prayer to your children. That must be quite difficult. I think you are quite right about the older generation who are no longer in survival mode! Thank you so much for sharing this and also for linking up to #TacticalTuesdays
I appreciate you letting me share this! It’s definitely something that we as parents wish to teach our child, but struggle to know the “correct” way. But luckily, kids are usually smarter than we could ever imagine and grasp so much. It’s a blessing to be able to watch them absorb and learn. Just have to keep reminding ourselves that we are their teachers, so what we do everyday has an impact, good and bad. Not always easy.
This is a great post and interesting to read from another religions perspective. We are a Christian family but I can completely relate to what you have written. I miss being able to participate in a church service without my toddler distracting me but I know she learns from seeing me pray and worship. #tacticaltuesdays
I sometimes think to myself maybe I shouldn’t attend a service/lecture/program at the Mosque because I have two little ones. But then I talk myself out of it, because they learn so much from going there. I have seen what a difference it makes when i take my daughters. first few times may be rough, but they’ve learned and adapted. It’s a sacrifice but such an important one. Keep it up!
As I started to read your post, my first thought was that they are probably absorbing the action of prayer by watching you (and their extended family), and then you went on to say just that. We go to a Church based baby group on a Monday, and I’m always surprised by how much Baby Lighty takes in at these sessions. It also made last Christmas lovely, when we could join in with the carols by candlelight, and the nativity story at our other baby group. It’s lovely when the littles get involved in all aspects of our lives, isn’t it? Really interesting post, I enjoyed reading your take on it. Thanks so much for linking it up to #DreamTeam!
That sounds lovely – the christmas part. Thank you for your kind words! Looking forward to reading about the Lighty family also 🙂
We don’t follow any one religion in our home, but I don’t think it’s ever too early to start teaching them. I would never discourage my kids from practising something, so I say go for it! My 3 year old has just shown an interest in yoga and meditation so I’ve been joining in with her. #dreamteam
It sounds like you’re doing all of the right things here. Sarah #fabfridaypost
I agree. I don’t think it is never too early – where they’ve shown interest then go for it. 🙂 Thank you so much for linking up with us on #FabFridayPost