During our Diamond Family Religious School 3rd through 8th-grade tefillah (prayer service) this past Sunday, I invited the children of our congregation to take a moment for silent prayer.
I want each of you to take a few deep breaths, to feel your feet on the floor in this holy space and to open up your heart to God and the universe. This is a special place where you can have a sacred conversation with yourself and the world. This sanctuary is here for you. Take a few moments and talk to God with the prayers of your heart. When you’ve finished your prayers, please take a seat and be respectful of your friends who might still be praying.
Then it was silent — super, super silent. As I looked out at the kids, a few of them sat down fairly quickly — that’s to be expected. What I didn’t expect was the number of kids whose eyes were shut tight, their eyebrows narrowed, and their mouths moving ever so slightly as they were completely enveloped in deep prayer.
At every grade level, boys and girls were praying, some with hands clasped together beckoning toward God like they were praying for a change or thanking God so profoundly for a gift. Slowly but surely, kids began to flutter their eyes open, some with surprised expressions on their face that turned to smiles as they quickly sat down in their chair realizing the beautiful moment they just created for themselves.
Our children have an innate spirituality. They have a natural capacity for capturing the sacred quality of life experiences. Give them opportunities to pray. Ask them about God. Invite them to share their spirituality with you.
At a certain point in adolescence, sometimes surrounded by adults who have spiritually disengaged, children may no longer feel that they have spaces to explore their inner voice. Even if you are feeling spiritually drained, you can still foster the spiritual life of a child.
For your own spiritual journey, I invite you to reflect on these questions: When did you stop praying? Have you stopped praying? What are your barriers to prayer? If you pray, what is it that has opened your heart to prayer?
This Shabbat, wrestle with these questions in our sacred space. Join your Temple Emanu-El community for our Friday with Family: Intergenerational Family Shabbat service from 6:30–7:15 or for our main service beginning at 7:30.