Just as spending time together is important in any relationship, so is spending time with God. One of the best ways that we can introduce our kids to God is through prayer.
Here are some ideas and tips on how we, as Christian parents, can teach our kids to make prayer a part of their lifestyle.
Teaching Kids to Pray: Why?
Prayer deepens our child’s relationship with God. But that’s not all. It also:
- Reminds them to be grateful: As they recall the happy things that happened during the day, they are made aware of each individual blessing they receive. (In this photo, Luke is thanking God for the surprise toys he got on his first roundtrip flight!)
- Keeps them humble: As they reflect and acknowledge God’s hand in their lives, they slowly develop humility knowing that everything they have is really only by God’s grace.
- Gives them security: Knowing that they have a God who is sovereign
Model Being Prayerful
The best way to teach something to kids is by modelling. How can prayer be a part of their everyday if prayer isn’t a part of your everyday? Teaching kids to pray is more than just telling them to pray; it’s also (and actually more about) showing them how to pray.
We, as parents, can model being prayerful by also improving our own personal prayer life. Prayer is really just a conversation with God, so have conversations with Him throughout the day. Tip: Don’t forget to say those conversations out loud when you’re with your kids! 😉
Remember that consistency is the key. It’s a mistake to think that just because you did it once, that that is enough “modelling.” If you want prayer to come naturally to them, they have to be able to see how naturally it also comes to you.
Kids copy everything that we do, don’t they? Both the good and the bad. So by God’s grace, let’s all strive to be a good example!
Ideas on What to Pray For
Remember to encourage them to pray from the heart. In our family, as much as possible, no memorized prayers. And memorized prayers doesn’t even have to mean prayers other people wrote (“Our Father” from the Bible, and others.) There have been times when I would ask Luke to pray before we begin our homeschooling and he finds himself blurting out “Dear God, thank you for the food….oops...” Haha.
We try to ask Luke to say his own prayers. But of course, he’ll need guidance and a few ideas too! Here are some that we taught Luke that you might want to adapt if you are teaching kids to pray:
- Give thanks for things that happened during the day: Recall all the activities
- Thank God for people in the house: Especially house helps and drivers, if applicable
- Show gratitude for the things He has blessed you with: Start with his immediate surroundings. Like if you’re praying before bed, maybe thank God for the bed, his room, his stuffed toys, pajamas, favorite toys, etc.
- Confess: Remind them to say sorry for the not so good things they did that day. “Sorry, I didn’t wait for my turn while playing with my sister,” and so on.
- Pray for other people’s concerns: Is someone in the family sick, sad or has a special prayer request? Did they meet anyone today or recently who might need prayers? When we visited an orphanage for Luke’s 3rd birthday, we prayed for the kids that night. I was surprised that for the succeeding nights after, he would always remind me to still pray for the kids at the orphanage! We can intentionally teach kids to be compassionate to other people.
- Ask for God’s guidance before an activity: Before going on a trip, visiting the doctor or even before starting on something as simple as painting or a craft.
- Thank God as you are enjoying an activity: The first photo on this blog shows Luke thanking God for his first ever beach trip!
- If they have understood the gospel (or if you have introduced it to them already), remind them to be grateful for the salvation Jesus has generously given them.
Tips for Parents of Younger Kids:
- Keep the prayers short and simple enough for them to understand.
- Keep the prayers personal and relatable to them.
- Encourage them to close their eyes. Of course, closing of eyes isn’t necessary in prayer but would help them concentrate and keep their wandering eyes from getting distracted.
- Set designated times for prayer (before meals, before bedtime) to get them into the habit of praying regularly BUT don’t be limited by them. Teach kids that they can actually pray to God anytime, anywhere, whatever they are doing and wherever they are in the world.
- It helps to regularly end prayers with “In Jesus’ name, we pray…” to reiterate the fact that the God we are praying to is Jesus.
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)