Teaching children to pray: An essential dimension of religious education in a postmodern age

Mary Ellen Durante, Fordham University


This study discusses how religious educators can interest Christian, and especially Roman Catholic children in learning about Christian/Roman Catholic traditions of prayer. It explores the questions: How can we teach children to pray, to image and develop a relationship with God through prayer, and to recognize that life-giving prayer practices are an essential dimension of a religious and spiritual life? The research also considers how teaching children to pray can offer them hope and open up positive pathways to navigate the conditions of postmodernity, and nurture an expansive relationship with God than can provide a foundation for life-long religious and spiritual development. This study’s purpose is to show how religious educators can offer children ways to celebrate their relationship with God. It also discusses how parents and religious educators, in honoring children as children and in honoring childhood as a unique stage in life, can share in the spiritual experiences of children when teaching children how to pray. The study is a humanistic study that strives to foster a greater understanding of human persons, especially children, as spiritual beings gifted with a natural sense of wonderment. It utilizes theological research that is informed by Christian faith. It considers, from a theological perspective, how humanity is living in spiritual union with God and is capable of conscious dialogue with God, through communal worship and personal prayer. The study considers how God participates in the ordinary events of everyday life as God reaches out to communicate with humanity, and how humanity reaches out to God through prayer. This study employs a psychological methodology in exploring how children’s ability to construct a sense of meaning and purpose in life develop as their cognitive and affective capacities mature. Furthermore, it shows that, beginning at an early age, children image God; that they are capable of relating to God through sacred signs, symbols, and images; and that when children are invited to use creative and diverse ways to communicate their personal images of God that they are brought closer to the mystery of God.

Subject Area

Religious education

Recommended Citation

Durante, Mary Ellen, "Teaching children to pray: An essential dimension of religious education in a postmodern age" (2015). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10014277.