Final Word: Friendship with God Through Prayer
When I think about my dearest friends, I recall friendships that began in grade school, my first years of teaching and my marriage. These friendships are ones that have lasted through happy and sorrowful times and shared experiences. These are people I know I can count on because they have shown their love and loyalty to me. Through kindness, compassion and respect, we build relationships with those who offer those characteristics back to us. But who is my bestie? That would be Jesus! He is constantly with me, guiding me to make right decisions, holding me up when I think I can’t do it on my own. Faith is a lifelong journey with our best friend. That relationship starts when we are young and grows in grace with each encounter with God.
Is there a magic trick to engage our youngest Christians in a relationship with Jesus? The simplest answer is not in disguise: PRAY! Praying with and for your children is powerful. My son, Henry, and I choose a different prayer each night before bed and talk about who we want to include in our prayers. We always start by praying for him, Mommy and Daddy and Grandma and Grandpa and then we launch into friends, relatives, teachers, seminarians and priests, and others who we think need our prayers. It’s a great way to call to mind those people in our lives who are important to us, or those who may be struggling. Our heartfelt pleas allow our children to grow in empathy and look outside themselves. We help our children understand prayer doesn’t have to be just memorizing formal prayers. It can be a simple, “God, I need help!”
I taught religion in a Catholic school classroom for 22 years and witnessed many hearts on fire for the Lord. Children have a natural inclination toward the good and can be so innocent in their relationships and friendships. As a DRE, I visit classrooms to talk with our students and I see how excited they are to learn about Jesus. They reach out to God through song, enacting Bible stories and hearing His Word. They talk about Jesus, they pray to Him and learn about His life and ministry. They ask questions about the greatest mysteries of our faith. The most rewarding conversations are about their understanding of Jesus’ love for them. To me, there is nothing more divine than watching our children receive Jesus in the Eucharist, especially for the first time. During their First Communion, their joy is boundless and their hearts are pure. Their friendship with God reaches new heights that will be with them every time they welcome Him into their hearts.
Prayer permeates our lives, providing a strong foundation for creating an ongoing conversation with God. It is essential to guide our children in building a friendship with our Lord through prayer.
Teaching children types of prayers and how we use prayer is important, but teaching them how to listen for His answer can be more difficult. I ask my students how we know God is talking to us – does He text, email, call us on the phone? No, but we can lead them to discover how to listen to their conscience and their heart to find His answers to their pleas.
Throughout their first years in religious education, we foster our children’s love for God and teach them to know Him and know He loves and knows each of them. As they get older, we build on that foundation and allow our students to maintain and build that friendship through sacraments, serving both the Church and our community and worshiping together. Just as we rely on our closest friends, our children can learn to rely on Christ when we keep Him close and grow deeper in our love for Him.
KAY FROEHLICH has been serving in ministry at Guardian Angels Parish for 25 years, first teaching 3rd and 5th grades and now as DRE. She is a lifelong parishioner of Guardian Angels and has received all of her sacraments there. Kay and her husband, Jim, have an 11 year old son named Henry.
This article appeared in the July 2021 edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.