Praying for our children is important. In fact, I like to pray scripture over my children and claim the many promises found in the Bible, but it is also very important to teach our children to pray. It’s easy for us all to say memorized prayers in the morning, before meals and at the end of the day. So we’ve been intentional about prayer in our home and try our best to make it meaningful. We want our children to develop a prayer life of their own now so when they are adults and parents they can continue this essential spiritual discipline.
The first and most obvious way that we can teach our children to pray is by modeling prayer for them. We all have trials in our homes; trials are a part of this life. Are we getting frustrated, impatient, angry and worrisome, or are we praying first? When our children see us turning to prayer first, they learn from a young age the importance of prayer and God in our lives to lead us. When kids are struggling, offer to pray right then for help from God. Teach your children, by example, the power of prayer.
Make prayer a daily habit. A regular prayer in the morning with my kids includes asking God for patience, kindness and gentleness for mom. Include confession in your prayers with the kids. It’s easy to present requests to God, but learning to confess is very important too. My kids hear me ask for those fruits of the Spirit first thing at the start of the day. Now that my kids are older, I still pray with them at night, but I leave the room and ask them to talk to God on their own and they both do.
Secondly, teach your children what to pray for. Ask your children for prayer requests. Remind them to pray for you as their parent and for their siblings. They can pray for their friends, teachers, pastors and even the kids they don’t get along with. Encourage them to expand their prayer time to more than just personal requests. An easy prayer structure to teach kids is ACTS:
Adoration: Give God adoration for his amazing characteristics.
Confession: Confess to God the things you are struggling with.
Thanksgiving: Express thanks to God for the blessings you have in your life.
Supplication: A fancy word that means asking God for personal requests.
Even if our kids spent one minute on each section, their prayers could be expanded. Developing a prayer life at a young age is so helpful for our kids as they get older.
Finally, make prayer fun. Use practical ideas to incorporate prayer more easily into your children’s life. For example, kids can pray by journaling their prayers. Prayer journaling has gotten popular in recent years. Let your kids pick out a journal and tell them to write down their prayers to God. They can even keep track of their answered prayers. I still love looking back at my previous prayer journals and seeing where God answered my prayers.
You can also use popsicle sticks to write down prayer requests so they can remember through the weeks what to pray for. You can have a family prayer jar or even a paper prayer chain. As the popular campaign says, “Just Do It.” Pray together, pray for everything you can think of. God is our ever-present friend, ready to listen. Encourage our kids to believe that and practice that.