We have a new centerpiece on our table. It is our Thankful Jar. The idea is that every night at dinner it will remind us to have a prayer as a family, and each person (who can talk) will have to say something they are thankful for. If someone had a tough day and cannot think of something they are thankful for then they have to pull one from the jar. You might be thinking, "It sounds like a nice idea, but why are you doing this?" First and foremost, Jessica thinks you can only pray after reading a book, and we would like her to learn that you can pray at other times as well. More importantly though, I think it is a great opportunity to emphasize to our children that no matter what there is always something we can be thankful for, and I really want my children to learn to be thankful in all circumstances. Not only does it seem to make you a happier person, but it also seems to make you more content with the things you do have and not so concerned about the things you do not have.
I have also been giving some serious consideration to the purpose of prayer for several years now. It just did not make sense to me that we should ask our "Santa Claus in the sky" or our "Genie in a Bottle" for the desires of our heart and expect to get them because we asked. I have concluded that the purpose of prayer is actually to change us. When we thank God, it reminds us of all the things we have so we don't get hung up on what we do not have. When we tell God about the desires of our heart, it allows us to evaluate what is truly most important, His will not mine. When we share our joys and struggles with Him, it reminds us of who we are, and when we praise Him, it reminds us of who He is: The One who made it all including each of us, "flawed" in just the way He intended. It seemed to me that while all of these different aspects are important, the most developmentally appropriate one for a small child is being thankful; therefore, I created our Thankful Jar and stuffed it partially full with items that we can always be thankful for!