TEACHING TODDLERS TO PRAY: An Interview with Mother and Pastor Andrea Kladder

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“One of my favorite prayer traditions happens in our family small group. After the adults have finished the study, the kids join us and all of us share something we are thankful for. After everyone has had a chance to share we sing the Doxology together praising God for all his good gifts.” -Andrea Kladder, Mother and Pastor

Let me introduce you to my friend I was so close with at Princeton Theological Seminary that people used to confuse us for one another, now mother of two and co-pastor with her husband, Dean Kladder, Andrea Kladder.

Amy: Where do you and your family go to church and what is your involvement there?  How many children do you have and how old are they?

Andrea: We live in Northern California. My husband Dean and I are the pastors of Healdsburg Community Church, so obviously we’re very involved. Our children are 4 years old and 4 months old and their main involvement in the life of the church is Sunday mornings and attending our Family Small Group. On Sunday mornings, the baby is in the Nursery and our preschooler splits time between the main worship service and the Nursery.

Amy: When did you start praying out loud for your child/children or in front of your child at home?

Andrea: We started praying out loud with our children at the very beginning as they were incorporated into our daily lives. The obvious times and places would be before meals and as we put them to bed, but I also pray aloud for the kids when they are nursing a lot in the early weeks.

Amy: What were/are some of your daily or weekly traditions regarding prayer as a family? When do you pray? What do you say?

Andrea: Meals and bedtime are still the easiest times to pray together. I think it’s because there is a natural pause to the day at those points. We try to have some variation with both of these times. At dinnertime we take turns praying and we also have two sung graces that we use. At bedtime we often take time to say “thank-you-fors” to God. Sometimes our daughter prays at bedtime and sometimes the parent primarily prays.

One of my favorite prayer traditions happens in our family small group. After the adults have finished the study, the kids join us and all of us share something we are thankful for. After everyone has had a chance to share we sing the Doxology together praising God for all his good gifts.

Amy: For those who aren’t as familiar:

The Doxology

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Amy: Have you done anything intentional to teach your children to pray?

Andrea: Prayer strikes me as something that is best modeled, so I try hard to continue to weave prayer into our lives in an obvious way (meals and bedtime, yes, but also stopping to pray when something comes up that is difficult or sad). I like to use a range of language and Scripture, as well as incorporate song, to show that prayer can look a lot of different ways. I also believe that cultivating gratitude and directing that gratitude toward God is a building block for prayer.

Amy: Does your child/do your children pray out loud? What do they say? When do they pray?

Andrea: Our 4-year-old prays out loud sporadically. It’s very easy to get her to say “God, I thank you for…” and she will occasionally pray extemporaneously, but she often gets shy about it. I think next steps in prayer for us including helping her learn how to share her feelings with God and to ask for his help on specific things.

Do you want to get more ideas on teaching your kids about God? Do you want the latest on Amy’s art and children’s books? Subscribe here. 

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