I didn’t know it when I became a mother, but one of the many blessings would be a strengthened prayer life. The quiet times are few and far between, so I have to snag the quiet moments to talk with God whenever I can. In between the quiet times when life is happening, the kids show me the beauty of a child’s faith. It’s not perfect or formal. It’s not rehearsed or self-conscious. It just happens.

My husband and I have worked hard to make our faith normalized in our home. We are far from being perfect catechists, but we make an effort to regularly pray together during the day, religious art and sacramentals are throughout the house, and we talk about our faith all the time. Carrying that over into our lives beyond the four walls of our home has made for some funny and humbling moments!

How My Kids Make Me a Better Pray-er My daughter's prayer book. God even understands our scribbles when we bring them to Him.

My 4-year-old daughter and I were running errands and stopped at a local fast food spot for dinner. After we finished praying and were starting our meal, she looked around the restaurant, made a sad face, and matter of factly said, “Mommy, the other people aren’t praying. That makes Jesus sad.” Of course, she said it in a very loud voice so that all of the other patrons could hear, so I’m sure my face was red.

Those moments are so good for this mama. They remind me that our kids need to know God so well and so intimately that they can’t imagine not loving Him and knowing HIm. All of their prayers come from their pure hearts that just want to love and be loved.

My fourth grade teacher had us memorize the poem “Lovely Lady Dressed in Blue” by Mary Dixon Thayer. (Archbishop Fulton Sheen popularized the poem in the 1950s.) The poem taught me how to approach prayer when I was a child, and I’ve carried the image with me into adulthood.

Lovely Lady Dressed in Blue

Lovely Lady dressed in blue ----
Teach me how to pray!
God was just your little boy,
Tell me what to say!

Did you lift Him up, sometimes,
Gently on your knee?
Did you sing to Him the way
Mother does to me?

Did you hold His hand at night?
Did you ever try
Telling stories of the world?
O! And did He cry?

Do you really think He cares
If I tell Him things-
Little things that happen? And
Do the Angels' wings

Make a noise? And can He hear
Me if I speak low?
Does He understand me now?
Tell me ---- for you know?

Lovely Lady dressed in blue ----
Teach me how to pray!
God was just your little boy,
And you know the way.

I love that poem even more now that I’m a mother. I love the idea of going to the Blessed Mother to teach us how to pray. I picture Mary with little Baby Jesus playing on her lap. The little glimpse of her human relationship with our Lord makes prayer less intimidating and more intimate. It makes prayer a place of solitude, warmth, and welcome.

As mothers, we are uniquely able to understand our children’s words (screams, cries, mumbles). Sometimes, we even have to translate them for others! God is able to do the same thing for us when we come to Him in prayer. Our prayers might not be formal, rehearsed, or perfect, but God knows what we are trying to say to Him from our hearts. Then, just as us mamas are able to comfort or heal our kiddos with a hug or an empathetic, “I’m so sorry that hurt your feelings,” God is able to do that for us when we come to Him in prayer.

Watching our children pray teaches me that God just wants me to talk with Him. My daughter Jane’s prayer line to God is always open. She dials Him up whenever she feels so inclined, and she talks to Him about anything and everything. Her prayers are so simple, so honest, and so heartfelt. They make me tear up, laugh, and sometimes cringe (“God, please help Mommy not to yell.”) It makes me think, “Wow, I would love to see God receiving our kids’ prayers and know what He’s thinking in response.”

Then I think, “I wonder what God must be thinking when I pray to Him. Why don’t I stop to ask Him? Are my prayers as simple, honest, and heartfelt as my children’s?” Unfortunately, the answer is usually no. The remedy is going back to the school of prayer next to my children. They get it, and they have a lot to teach Mama.

What have your children taught you about prayer?

Copyright 2014, Catherine Boucher