Learning how to pray with your kids is something we think should come natural; even easy.
But reality is . . . it’s not always easy to pray with small children in tow.
Kids often don’t understand what to pray or why it’s important at all.
It drives us bonkers when we pray and our kids can’t stop giggling or bouncing or bugging their sibling.
Or maybe your kids try to pray and say things that really miss the mark. Oh dear!
Our kids don’t instinctively know about prayer. They need to be taught what prayer is and why we pray. As they are taught about prayer, they begin to show more respect and reverence.
Here are a few things that you can do to help your family pray together, even if you have small kids.
Talk about Prayer.
Don’t wait to talk about prayer when you’re ready to bow your heads. Discuss prayer with your kids to teach the idea of bringing our thanks and requests to God.
Doing a family worship session about prayer is also a good way to teach this concept.
The trick is to talk about it before the actual act of praying occurs.
If a lesson/talk about prayer has occurred, often only a gentle reminder about what is happening is enough to guide your little one back to the act of prayer.
Make it Personal.
Teaching our kids how to pray about their own heart condition is a great way to show how God wants us to act and how He wants us to respond to each other.
As your kids get older, they will be able to verbalize what is on their heart and ask for forgiveness for sins they’ve committed. Until that age, guide them in this process. Show them that it’s ok to pray “God forgive me for _______________” or even “God I’ve been struggling with ___________.”
When you make prayer personal, it simply means to pray for what is on your kid’s mind.
Maybe they want to pray for a friend or for you. Showing them that their concerns are valid through prayer is a great tool that will serve them well for years to come.
Who should pray?
Taking turns praying aloud is a great way to build confidence in our kids.
Kids will say the darnedest things but encouragement can go a long way to help them understand that what they say matters. As long as they are being sincere and not mocking prayer time, let them say what’s on their heart. You might even learn what they are really thinking about or what concerns them.
To do this, sometimes we ask a particular child to pray aloud by themselves. This is easier as they get older.
When they are little, simply praying one line at a time then have the child repeat that line is a great way to pray with littles. This builds confidence and repetition so they can remember what to pray for when the time comes for them to pray by themselves.
Our prayer goes something like this –
Mom/Dad – God, our Father,
Child – God, our Father,
Mom/Dad – Thank you for today
Child – Thank you for today
We continue our prayer with thanks for our home, church, family, and any thing else we think of. Then we start praying for our requests.
Where should you pray?
It’s good to remind your kids that prayer is good anywhere and anytime. Practice this by taking opportunities to pray in the car, in the store or whenever something of concern happens.
Here’s an example, if we hear of someone that’s sick, we stop right then and pray. It doesn’t need to be a long prayer but something specific for the issue at hand will teach your kids that prayer is accessible anytime, anywhere.
Make it a habit.
Building a strong prayer habit for anyone takes repetition.
This means praying every night before bed without fail. If it’s extra late you can keep your prayer short to get your kids asleep, but continuing to pray regardless of how you feel is a great way to be an example for your kids.
It’s up to you to teach your kids that a good prayer life means you need to pray consistently.
Easy tricks for small kids.
At a very young age, we started encouraging our kids to close their eyes and put their hands together during prayer. This helps them to remember that prayer is important. It also helps keep their hands occupied while they wait patiently during a prayer.
Church is a great place to practice this. Simply doing a hand motion over your face to show eyes closed is a good reminder that someone is praying. If that doesn’t work, point out the person praying and say something like “remember praying is talking to God, let’s close our eyes to show God that we are listening.”
Use scripture to reinforce.
Praying scripture is a great tool for your family. Start by praying application scriptures like verses from Proverbs or Psalms.
When your kids get a little older, you can do a Bible study on the Lord’s prayer. These verses are great way to teach dive deep into prayer.
Some questions for you to ask yourself are –
Is your child running from salvation?
Is church/Christianity a new thing for your family and maybe they aren’t sure about the new thing?
Is there a heart issue that you are unaware of?
Would your child be willing to discuss an issue with a pastor/youth pastor or counselor?
If your child is reluctant, your job is not to force prayer on them but to guide them in that direction. If you attempt to force prayer on a heart that’s not open to Christ, a rebel will be born.
A reluctant child may be able to be receive help easily and yet another may need serious divine intervention.
Pray for your children whether they are reluctant or not that they will be open to God’s Word and will for their lives.