‘Pray with Me’ by Erica Renaud—A Review by Kelly Duffy

Children today have been given a daunting task, one that they may not even realize they have until they are much older—create, establish and maintain an identity in today’s world. With so many different influences and ideas coming to them through school, friends, social media, news outlets, how can you set the next generation up for success? Not only in their careers or relationships, but in their journeys to find their faith and form a genuine connection with God.

Erica Renaud, a speaker, and an author from Upstate New York, recognized this challenge in today’s youth and set out to find a simple yet effective solution in her debut book Pray with Me. The title is paired with the mission to “help your children engage in authentic and powerful prayer.” It is clear from the first page that Erica is a trusting and knowledgeable companion to consult for, not only establishing prayer in a child’s life, but helping them form a strong and lasting relationship with their faith.

The book begins with a forward to mothers, fathers, and children’s ministry leaders alike, and this is an introduction I admire greatly. Family, friends, ministry, any individual that a child interacts with can and will be an influence on the formation of their faith. Erica recognizes this and shares her wisdom, practices, and stories for readers of all backgrounds, not just parents. She acknowledges the human desire for an offspring, or
simply a loved one, to share in the powerful and life altering faith that molds each and every one of us.

With sincere vulnerability, Erica begins with the stories of her first prayers and her own quest to find herself not only as a woman of God but as a young mother as well. Within a few pages, you feel as if you are at dinner with an old friend, hearing personal stories and finding moments you relate to and also can learn from. The sound advice Erica provides speaks to those raised in a Christian household, and those who may not have had that same privilege. She reminds the reader that “a follower of Christ cannot follow both the world and Christ for long before the tension mounts within them and something must give”. This proves as a sobering reminder that, although we come from different upbringings and experiences, we all fall victim to the same struggles, and that children are no exception.

As we grow older, prayer can prove to be both immensely rewarding and intimidating. You are taught to speak to God as a friend, to trust and confide as if He is in the room with you. However, at a certain age, you start to see the world with fear and doubt. Praying can turn into more of a transactional exchange rather than meaningful conversation, simply because you have been exposed to the hardships of this world, and you want so badly to make it right. Erica acknowledges the questions surrounding prayer and reminds us all that it is truly the best tool for continued salvation and relationship with Christ. She presents a life of prayer as attainable for all ages, reminding us that without consistent communication, the faith and trust we have in God’s plan can dwindle quickly. Erica encourages you to step into the footsteps of the child in your life, reminding you of the power of their point of view and perception of the world. She encourages us all to “be guides” for today’s youth and provides an honest depiction of what difficulties parents can face while trying to engage a child in prayer. I was particularly drawn to the sentiment that we need to “preserve the childlike faith so often displayed in toddler prayers.” Children can dive into a world of imagination, without fear or judgement, and engage in honest conversations with God that leave us admiring their boundless faith.

Erica works in relevant scripture and personal experiences as she walks the reader through practical methods on how to make prayer a part of, not only our children’s day to day routine, but ours as well. She ventures into the magic of both planned and unplanned moments of prayer, and provides insight into potential opportunities to communicate with God. Through specific prayer theology, broken down by age and examples of approachable topics, Erica shows how a child can benefit not only from prayer as a practice but also through the methods in which they decide to engage in prayer. As an avid writer of poetry, I was impressed and excited by her suggestions turning prayer into a fun limerick for a child. By making prayer a time that a child can engage in and enjoy, Erica shows how they are able to share the love of God with their friends and families, all while utilizing their own strengths and interests in the process. She says “we want to get right on their level and show them this beautiful thing called prayer” and I cannot agree more.

Beyond the methods introduced to help your child or loved one engage in prayer, Erica also educates the reader on the “vital qualities of prayer” including but not limited to faith and persistence. She simplifies the true meaning of these qualities to find a common ground for both the child and the adult involved, making it easier to understand and translate our prayer lives into a practice a child can adapt and grow into. There is a section of how to physically engage in a prayer, such as journaling and drawing, and the suggestions that Erica provides can prove to be so beneficial for all ages. The practice and benefits of a mindful prayer practice are perfectly illustrated and left me eager to utilize some of the tools she provided in my own prayer life.

Erica’s words left me far less intimidated by the concept of prayer, and so inspired to take action in my own prayer life. She tells stories of the struggles her children have faced and how the power of their relationship with God has helped them overcome the hardships. There is clear enthusiasm in Erica’s writing that is truly contagious for those reading. You want to take the suggestions into the real world and see the positive changes it can have on any child. She presents Jesus as an approachable human being that a child and adult can speak to, can relate to. She reminds us that He experienced our actual emotions, has empathy for our dilemmas and our confusion, and that by learning His character from an early age, you can establish a firm foundation of trust in the unseen journey ahead. Erica’s shares a telling and relatable truth—“no place on earth compares to being in God’s presence.” This is the identity you hope for in your own life, and the lives of the children you interact with each day, whether it be a son or a daughter, a niece or a nephew, or the children you tend to in ministry. Pray with Me is a beautiful roadmap on how to help create that identity not only for the youth of today but for yourself as well, and as Erica sentiments in the ending of the book, this hard work is worth it. We are all worth it.

Buy Book

Pray with Me by Erica Renaud
Esther Press, Colorado Springs, CO, 2023
240 pages

By day, Kelly Duffy is a nurse working in Upstate New York. By night, she is a wife, a friend, a daughter, a writer, a seeker of adventure and believer in unconditional love. She was honored to have her short story included in Heart of Flesh—Issue Eight as her first publication, and looks forward to any future opportunities to share her words to both the Christian community and those who have yet to find God. The stories we tell and the pieces of our life we share can prove to be the way an individual finally finds faith in this world, and she is honored to be a part of those voices.

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