Teaching Prayer with Your Kids

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Prayer.  One of the most important things we can and should do for each other.  So, how can we make it more important at home and to our kids.  I know how stressful it can be to teach prayer to kids.  If you are new to applying biblical practices at home or have young children, here are some helpful tips to help you get started.    

First, start with yourself.  Get your heart and mind on the right page.  As you know, teaching kids about anything can be challenging, so pray for your patience and consistency.  Pray for your kids, family members, friends and others in front of them. Watching you do this sets the example of “oh this is important,” but it also helps them create a structure for their own prayers.  

Many times, kids don’t enjoy prayer time because they don’t know what to do or are worried about being embarrassed.  Kids want to please their parents and others they look up to, so many times they won’t say anything or say, “I don’t know” as a way not to say the wrong thing.   

I have been reading about prayer and tips from others who have been teaching prayer at home and there are two simple ways that stood out to me: prayer of thanksgiving and prayer for others.  The key is to stay simple and remain on their level. Yes, one day your kids should learn prayer in repentance and humility to God, but those come with a heart check and many young kids aren’t there yet.  With that being said, be ready and have a listening heart for when that time comes.   

In the spirit of staying simple I will give you examples 

1. Prayer of Thanksgiving.  

First, explain what is a prayer of Thanksgiving.  Example: A prayer of Thanksgiving is one in which you pray to God thanking him for the things he blessed us with today.  Like a trip to the zoo, sister getting better, or Grandma getting to come visit.  These are simple examples that will help them understand.  

Ask them to say a prayer of Thanksgiving for today.  To help them out say one first, be an example in thanking God!   

2. Praying for others.  

Many times, when I ask for prayer request from kids I will either get Crickets… or some of the craziest answers. Make a list of people.   You can write it on paper and place it somewhere where it is easily seen and found or you could write it on note cards and put them on a key ring. Make a list on your phone so that wherever you are, you got this!  The list will be helpful because it won’t be like pulling teeth to get them to say someone to pray for, but also, they won’t be just praying for the ones on the top of the list, like grandma and brother, all the time. Not that it is bad, but it is important to teach them to pray for all God’s people, even the ones they hardly know or don’t know.   

Sit down with your kiddo and write a list.  Don’t write it for them, have them help.  Ask questions like, “do you think Sally needs prayer, she has been sick lately?”  This helps them know why they are praying for someone and it is a reminder that everyone needs prayer not just the people they see every day.  

Now that you have your list let’s talk about taking action!  

With young kids, it is extremely helpful to use what I like to call brain triggering motions.  The article I got these tips from was by Jessica Smartt.  She said she would point to the sky, point to her mouth, and point to her heart.   When you use motions, make sure it is going to be one you do automatically.  If you don’t, it may be more confusing than helpful.  Use your motions as hints to help them with what to say next.   

Once your kiddos choose who to pray for, start with “Dear God, God, or Hello God” or however you normally start.  

1. (point to the sky) Pray that God would be with them and helping them.  

2. (point to your mouth) pray they have the things they need, example food or medicine.  

3. (point to your heart) Pray that they would know God and be in their hearts.  

When teaching # 3 it is important to take time and share the gospel. Do it often!  

Remember staying simple and consistent is key!  Do these often at a scheduled time! Make sure they know they can talk to God all the time!      

Lastly, Praise your child! It’s totally awesome when they talk to God, so let them know it! One day it will be totally awesome when they are doing it on their own confidently!     

YOU ROCK MOM OR DAD!  JUST THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW!  

Shayla McDonnel
SL Kids Director