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Goodbyes Are Hard: A Guide For Praying With Your Child

Relationships | Cindy Branton | 4 mins

A few years ago, my family and I would sit with a book of litanies for adults and read it at our dinner table. The words were beautiful and holy, but the problem was that my precious girls (All under the age of 12) comprehended almost nothing they were saying. I searched and searched for a book of prayers that my family could use for specific occasions but couldn’t find what I was looking for.

A litany is a prayer that includes a leader and a responder. Litanies have been used for hundreds of years in the Christian faith as a way to pray, typically in a church service, but people can also pray them in private devotions. It’s a beautiful practice – one I wanted to incorporate into our family culture.

I ended up making a list of significant feelings, occasions, and celebrations that my girls were experiencing and wrote a litany prayer for each instance. I wanted the words to sound natural and kid-friendly so that children knew what they were praying. I also wanted to incorporate as much Biblical truth as possible so that as kids were praying, they could learn more about who God really is. This collection of litanies became a book I wrote last year called “Words to Jesus: Litanies to Pray as a Family.

Below is an excerpt from the book. This litany was inspired by the loss of someone very important to our family – my precious grandmother. My girls had so many big feelings but didn’t necessarily have the words to express them. The litany was a tool for us to go before Jesus during a difficult season and share our hearts with Him.
This prayer is meant to be read aloud. Children repeat the phrases in BOLD, and the parent reads the rest of the prayer. Parents cue the children when it's their turn (perhaps with a point, a wink, or a squeeze!)

Goodbyes are Hard
John 11:35
Jesus wept.

Goodbyes are hard, but Jesus is always here.
Jesus, I am so sad right now. I have to say goodbye to someone that was very special to me. My eyes are crying tears, and I don’t understand why things have changed. My heart feels like it is broken.

Goodbyes are hard, but Jesus is always here.
This change seems scary to me, and I don’t like that things will be different now. I will miss this special person, and I wish that I could hug them and tell them I love them.

Goodbyes are hard, but Jesus is always here.
Thank you for the time I had to love this special person. Thank you, Jesus, for the happy times with them that I will always remember. Thank you for the smiles I shared with them, and for the silly, fun memories I can think about.

Goodbyes are hard, but Jesus is always here.
Jesus, when you were on earth, you wept when you had to say goodbye. You know what it feels like to have a friend in your life go away. When I cry, I can remember that you understand my sadness, and you cried just like me.

Goodbyes are hard, but Jesus is always here.
Thank you for being with me in this hard time. Thank you, Jesus, that you promise to never leave me. You are faithful and strong. Nothing can ever separate me from you. I will never have to say goodbye to you. Please make my heart feel better.

Questions to ask your child:

What are some things you will miss about ______?
What are some memories about ______ that you like to think about?

Memories: A time in the past I can think about.
Wept: Sad crying from a hurting heart.
Faithful: Never leaving or giving up.

Written By

Cindy Branton

Jesus lover, smitten wife, active mom, tenured teacher, and writer of words. 

Published on Apr 19, 2022