We kneel for evening prayers, and I think of something Father L said to me today during confession, and it gives me an idea.
“In the name of the Father and of the Son,” we begin, already falling into that rhythm that shows we aren’t really thinking about what we’re saying. We begin, and as we pray “Thy will be done,” I stop L.
“What’s something you can do to help make this come about, to help bring about God’s will on Earth?” L shrugs, so I clarify: “What is God? He’s love, right? So to fulfill God’s will, we must love. So what’s something you could do to help fulfill that?”
She thinks for a moment. “Not yell at E,” she replies confidently. We all do it: we get frustrated or worried with what the little two-year-old bundle of fascination and excitement is about to do, see potential disaster (or sometimes actual disaster), and call out, “E!” He heads for furniture with a drill: “E!” He snaps the head off a doll: “E!” So L and I talk about how we should all take that to heart.
Returning to the prayer: “and lead us not into temptation.” Time for reteaching: “What are we sometimes tempted to do, something that really goes against God’s will of love?”
“Yell at E.”
That seems to be the key to meaningful prayer for a seven-year-old: connect it to real life, make it simple, and reinforce. Sort of like teaching in the classroom…