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Parents And Prayer: Part Four: Teaching Your Children To Pray

Parents And Prayer: Part Four: Teaching Your Children To Pray

One of the most important things you can do as a parent is teach your child to pray, so they will always bring their fears, worries, and needs to God, trusting that he will hear and help them for Jesus’ sake.

Start early.  Even little babies can be taught to fold their hands for prayers at meal time, bed time, etc.  Speak your own prayers out loud and they will eventually learn to at least say some of the words.  Start simple: “Thank you, Jesus, for this food. Amen.”  Rhyming prayers are great too. One of my first prayers I learned was, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.  If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”  The idea is to get your children into the habit of praying at an early age.

Teach your children to pray from the heart as they get a little older (say 2-3 years old).  At this point you are teaching them what to pray for: Confessing sins, asking for Jesus’ forgiveness, thanks for daily blessings, help with problems, help or blessings for other people (and not just family members), etc.  Be prepared for prayers that may include “Mr. Snuggles”, the stuffed toy bunny.  Remember, they are learning to pray.  They can begin to learn prayers like The Lord’s Prayer as well.  Encourage them to join with you in speaking prayers like that at home and in church.

As mentioned last time, lead them in prayers at the start and end of the day, at meal times, etc.  Again, we want to teach the importance of relying on God and show them how to put their trust in Jesus Christ.

Model prayer for them.  I remember reading an article where an adult Christian man talked about the impression left by walking past his dad’s bedroom when he was a kid and seeing his big, burly football coach dad kneeling beside his bed praying.  Let your kids see you praying.  Lead them in prayers so they can hear what prayer from the heart sounds like, and so they can learn about the things for which to pray.  Let them add their own personal prayers out loud to yours.

There are a number of ways to help your children keep growing in their prayer lives as they get older.  My sister and brother-in-law would close family devotional time with each member of the family member speaking a few words of prayer, one by one, around the table.  Children can do the entire family prayer when they reach a certain age (the spiritually maturity and personality of each child will determine when that time has arrived).  Older children can be encouraged to teach younger children to pray.  Giving prayer books to kids at certain stages of development (even post-high school) can remind them of particular things to pray about and can help them pour out their hearts to God.  Invite your kids to tell you what they pray about on a daily basis.

You will want to make sure to teach your children that their prayers can be as short as “Thank you, Lord!” or “Please help me, Jesus!” at any time of the day.  Teach them to pray for others as you lead them in prayer in response to news events, circumstances in other people’s lives, etc.  And you will want your children to learn to end each day confessing their sins in prayer and seeking Jesus’ forgiveness, and asking Jesus for strength to do the right thing tomorrow.  You want them to go to bed with the peace of knowing they are forgiven and that they will have comfort and strength from Jesus for whatever tomorrow holds.

Find out what other Christian parents are doing to teach their kids to pray.  Share good ideas and resources.  Teach your children to believe and say with confidence, “I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer. (Psalm 17:6)