Does it seem like your kids don’t really know what to pray for? Are you getting tired of hearing the same old thing? Teaching your children to pray is simple. Let me help!
“Dear Jesus, thank you for this day. Help me tomorrow. Amen.”
Until 2010, we ended every day with those words. At least we were consistent? Oh, and we usually muttered something about nourishing food to our bodies before most meals, too. Unless we were in a restaurant, of course. Then we tried to be considerate of the other guests and not make them uncomfortable. (Hilarious, huh?)
Sure, there were some deeper prayers. Days when I made promises (that I never kept), days when I begged for something that I should have been content not having, and the obligatory prayer for someone who was sick or dying. I even occasionally tried to hear from God… but ya know, I talked the whole time.
Then one day, I really needed God. It wasn’t that I didn’t need Him before. I just didn’t know I did. But now, the fire was blazing in my home and I was left standing with 4 babies and no idea how I would feed them. Our casual faith was partly responsible for the wreckage of what we called “family life” into a thousand shards of betrayal, abandonment, and things I don’t even want to repeat.
I was sitting at my desk this morning looking out the window and talking to God about the beauty in front of me when this matter of prayer hit me. Oh to think of all the times that I missed enjoying the comfort, peace, and provision of God because I was simply to shallow to really talk to Him.
Oh to think of how little I made of this matter of prayer. I found myself feeling thankful that my life had changed so drastically, even though it came through hardship. But I also found myself thinking about the little people who call me mom.
What was I teaching my children about prayer?
Was I teaching them to hurry up and pray because food was getting cold or because they had annoyed me with getting 25 drinks of water before getting into bed?
Was I teaching them that sometimes we just don’t have time to pray?
Was I teaching them that prayer was about getting your needs met and not really worrying about others?
I realize that on this earth we aren’t going to get it all right. It’s impossible not to get annoyed sometimes or feel rushed, stressed, or even embarrassed. But the truth is, if we are going to make much of Jesus it’s going to be on our knees.
Teaching children to pray should have been one of my top priorities because I desperately want to make much of Jesus. My kids need Him. This I know for sure. They cannot survive in this wretched world without Him.
So, it’s time to do exactly that. Let’s get about the business of teaching children to pray!
4 Tips for Teaching Children to Pray
Teach them what the Bible says.
This is a no-brainer, right? I agree, but are we doing it? If I had to guess by looking at my life, I’d say no. We get busy and other things take our time and energy, especially discipline issues. They have to be dealt with immediately, along with many other duties. So we push back the “teaching” of things more often than we’d like. Trust me, I know. But knowing this can help us. If we know where we are weak, we can be more intentional about changing that.
There are so many ways to do this. Grab your concordance and look up verses on the topic of prayer. Study a few during family devotion times or even dinner.
You might also enjoy a good family study that walks you through various prayer topics, such as Praying With Paul. Another favorite way is to have them practice handwriting as they write through Scripture. This book on the Lord’s Prayer is a great resource!
Teaching children to pray in everyday situations.
One way to make prayer more natural is by bringing it into everyday life. When kids see us going to God about our everyday circumstances, it teaches them that He’s accessible and near. There are a thousand different ways you might do this but here are a few.
If you see an ambulance driving by, pray for the person needing help, “Lord, help that person to know that you are near and give the paramedics wisdom.” Or maybe there’s a sibling argument taking place, you could lead them to pray for forgiveness towards one another. Or when the sun is setting and the sky is a gorgeous pink, you could teach them to praise the Lord, “God what a beautiful sky you created!”
Bringing prayer into our natural lives will teach them that God wants to meet with them through everything, big or small.
Give them tools to expand what they pray about.
Tools just make it easier to get the job done. Can you imagine washing clothes without a washing machine? How about making dinner without an oven or appliance of some kind?
Teaching children to pray should be no different. Give them valuable tools to make the job easier.
One way to do that is to give them ideas. When I realized that my kids were in a rote prayer rut, I decided to give them suggestions for things to talk about- in the form of a list. I knew that they didn’t fully understand the breadth of things they actually could be praying for, because it had taken me over 30 years to get there!
Eventually, I started putting those ideas into a fun format we could use over and over again. Many years later, the JOY prayer cards are one of our favorite things to do together!
The JOY prayer cards are organized into four themes, each lasting for one week–my family, my community, my nation, and my world – making a total of 28 cards.
Each card emphasizes the JOY formula for praying: J-Jesus, O-others and Y-yourself. The cards encourage prayer through suggestions and scripture. I have designed them specifically with multi-ages in mind. Parents can use the cards with young children, praying and reading through them as a family. As children get older, they have the freedom to use the cards to support their own prayer life.
Teaching children to pray by writing down their blessings.
Another idea for teaching children to pray is to start a prayer journal. We actually use the cards I mentioned above to guide our prayer journal. Even a simple spiral-bound notebook from Wal-mart will do the trick.
What’s important is to record your requests and then note when God answers. This helps kids see God at work in their lives. Being diligent to point this out will grow their faith tremendously! Not to mention, remembering the great things God has done is an amazing comfort when trials come.
Through practical tools & Bible-based resources, Kim Sorgius is dedicated to helping your family GROW in faith so you can be Not Consumed by life’s struggles. Author of popular kid’s devotional Bible studies and practical homeschooling tools, Kim has a master’s degree in education and curriculum design coupled with over 2 decades of experience working with kids and teens. Above all, her most treasured job is mother and homeschool teacher of four amazing kiddos.