S is nearly 8. And we are working on getting him to pray. From what I see, there are two kinds of praying people: The people to whom praying is as much a part of their day as getting dressed. It would be inconceivable for them to miss or delay a prayer.
And the others to whom praying is something they have to constantly think about, it’s something to be waited for and worried about and sometimes accidentally delayed.
I am, unfortunately, mostly from the second group. Even if I have prayed all 5 prayers on time I still find myself suddenly panicking at 10 pm till I remember that I did pray Isha**.
I am talking to both S and J, in ways that are age appropriate for them, about praying. About why we pray, and how praying can benefit us in this life and more importantly in the next.
We were never taught the spirituality of our religion at school. It was you ‘either do it or your going to hell’. Funny enough, any other person I have spoken to who went to a strict Catholic school or even a strict Jewish school all had the same experiences. I remember my daughter once talking about being “burned in the lava” in front of a Catholic friend of mine which got her telling me all the things she used to hear and say to her friends and cousins when they were younger.
I want my children to feel the need to pray. 5 minutes 5 times a day. I want them to feel a void when they do not connect with God directly, with out anyones help, 5 times a day.
I want to raise my kids to be part of the first group. Humans are creatures of habit. So all it is, to begin with, is getting them into the habit.
I have asked many people to whom praying is first nature to them (second nature is everything else) how they got that way. They all mostly have no idea! It is just that they grew up with it. Some look at me like I am insane because they think what I am asking is ridiculous. How and why could they not pray?!
I read somewhere that it takes between 21 – 30 days for something to become a habit. I also read somewhere else that that is nonsense but it makes me feel better to think it is true. So, I have a plan! Just make them pray.
The trick is to get them to do it out of love and not out of fear. But there has to be no wishy washiness. It’s Athaan, it’s prayer time. I get up and do it, why shouldn’t they? Obviously J is too young, but she does get up and pretends to pray. Baby B even copies what we do. But S is getting to the age where if it becomes a habit now, then it’s a habit for life.
S was praying next to me a while ago and in the middle of praying he did something, I can’t remember what, but I obviously thought it was disrespectful because I pulled him by the arm to make him stand straight and then after prayer I really had a go at him for what he had done. That left him, obviously, upset and ashamed.
I immediately felt like a complete and utter idiot for it! If I had just waited till we finished praying and sat down with him and quietly and calmly explained to him that when we are praying we are standing between Gods hands. And that we have to be respectful. I could have given him an example of how he would stand in front of his headmaster at school. I should have asked him if he would have been messing around or standing seriously. I should have then asked him then how he would act when it was God he was standing in front of and not just the headmaster?
But I didn’t do that. I did something stupid instead. So I made a pact with myself (for probably the hundredth time) to not over react to things, to take a deep breath and to think (even for a fraction of a second is better than not thinking at all B).
*It is a beautiful verse from Sourat Albaqarah. I couldn’t find a translation that does it justice, but this is the best I could find: “When My servants ask thee about Me, I am indeed close (to them): I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calleth on Me: Let them also, with a will, Listen to My call, and believe in Me: That they may walk in the right way.”
** It is the fifth prayer of the day. If you want more information about the five prayers or islam in general check out the Islam Today site.
I love the idea of being between God’s hands when we pray…what a lovely image you gave me. :)
Great post. Somehow we need to want to pray of our own free will without it being imposed and yet regularly. Perhaps by example is the best method.
Here is a passage about prayer that I find beautiful, The Revelation of Arès 25:6:
He never forsakes a sinner in his penitence; all the sinners he fortifies during their ascent,
those who pray to Him in silence,
those who pray to Him shaking bells and candles,
those who pray to Him seven times a day,
those who do not pray to Him but who know Him,
those who count the sun(rise)s until His Day (comes)
and those who count the moons,
those who burn incense to Him and shout toward Him,
those whom the incense and shouts annoy,
those who see Him white and those who see Him black,
and the deniers of all of those,
the countless multitude whose names a flood of ink would not suffice to list, whose names the Father knows.
You are doing a great job. I have recently been thinking of ways to teach my daughter about Islam. And have started to have Quran on for them while they sleep. I know its not enough, but I am hoping its a start. She does the play praying along my side, and comes and goes while I pray.
Anyway, I hope your mission is accomplished… and once again…. ur doing great!
There is a quote (I’m a gatherer of quotes) by the actor and Parkinson’s sufferer Michael J. Fox: “I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.”
Yet we women expect perfection of ourselves!
Know this: you are an excellent mother who is teaching her children beautiful habits. I like that you reflected on a better way to correct/teach your son and will no doubt take it next time. I have every expectation that praying will be a lifelong, natural habit with your children.
As someone who was raised in a strict Catholic tradition, we were certainly given a “formula” for how to please God. I was lucky, though, I guess. The sisters who taught me for 12 years were such beautiful examples of God’s love, and spent countless hours listening to and discussing spirituality with the girls in their care. They were very positive role models.
i lived in makkah till i was 18..and i am sure u can imagine what it is to be parented by a genuine makkawi father.
i was talked to pray in every possible way,talking,making it a habit,kicked to the mosque,yet i always found my self interested in doing somthing else during pray time,sometimes its only sitting somewhere hiding till prayers finish.
till now,i am still working on my prayers,and the progress is horrible,and being in the US where there is no athan makes it alot easier to be forgotten especially at work,since at home we have multiple reminders and alarms.
currently i am reading a book about prayer, i am really hoping it would be helpful to make me understand prayer from a better perspective and make me WANT to pray,not need to pray.
P.S.my wife never misses a prayer,ever.
Thank you all for your comments. I am sorry I wasn’t my usual, quick replying self but it has been a bit busy here the last few days. I love the quote that angelle included “I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.” and I also love the other quote from an entry on her site that says “We have just enough religion to hate, but not enough to make us love one another.” It is so true!
I think the thing we all miss is that praying is deeply deeply personal. It is a communication between man and God that is direct and heard every time. And I think, generally in life, the more difficult something is the more satisfaction we have when we do it.
I really want to read the Qur’an. You’ve given me more motivation. Thanks for the Islam Today link, it’s great.
You should! but you have to make sure the translation is good. Somethings are misinterpreted. The site I included is a good reference. If you like I can ask and recommend some good books about Islam. Karen Armstrongs ‘a brief history of Islam’ is good.
Oh! and welcome to my blog :-)
thanks for that advice, i had no idea. but it makes sense as there so many different versions of the Bible.
i would be very happy if you could recommend a version that you think is good. in English please!
Sure. I will have to ask and I will email you:)
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