Useful Guidelines For Parents Who Are Helping Children Learn To Pray
“Prayer is never inappropriate; especially when it comes straight from the heart. In the end, that's all you really need to teach children to help them communicate with our God who's always listening.” -Maurica DeLean Houck
Helping Children Learn to Pray
Help children talk to God - Model for your children an easy, comfortable way to simply talk to God as you'd talk to a friend. They can tell God about their day, express their fears, and even be a little mad if they want to.
There's nothing too big-or too small-for God - It's true; God can help us face the hardest moments in our lives. God is also there to share in our smaller moments, too.
You Can Talk To God About Anything - Making prayers relevant to children's lives enables them to grow in prayer.
God listens to ALL prayers - God is always there, willing and eager to listen to what we have to say.
Prayer As A Lifestyle
Be The Example - Children need to see that prayer time is important and a vital and natural part of their lives. Prayer needs to become a way of life for them. They need to see parents or other adults in their lives model the faith.
Action Is Needed - Children should see prayer in action, as adults not only pray for the hungry, the homeless, and the sick, but also do acts of mercy and kindness. Let children help select the deed of kindness. By participating in deeds of kindness, children learn that they can help God answer someone else’s prayer.
Pray Together - Prayer time as a family draws them into a closer relationship with each other and also with God. The prayer journey is one that adults share with their children, but in order to help guide the child, adults must grow in their own prayer life.
Ways To Pray For Our Children
The Tucking-in Prayer - Write a short simple prayer on an index card. At bedtime pray the prayer together and slip the card under the child's pillow.
The Pocket Prayer - Write a short prayer on a post-it note or small piece of paper. Place the prayer where children will find it – in a pocket, a lunch box, or a back pack.
The Secret Prayer - Pray for your child in secret, perhaps in their room after they have left for school. Envision the positive results for which you are praying. Keep praying, for God will answer your prayer whenever and however God chooses.
The Scripture Prayer - Pray the scripture. As you read, watch for a verse or passage that reflects a situation in the life of the child you are praying for. You might share the verse with the child so that you can pray the verse together. Other times, you will want this verse to remain between you and God.
Stay Centered On God
Keep your own life centered on God. As children see you pray and observe your faith, they will be strengthened in their faith as well.
Several Ways To Stay Centered
- Pray a breath prayer or the Jesus Prayer
- Every time you glance at your watch, turn your thoughts toward God.
- Use the moments in between doing the things that must be done to focus on God.
- Stick notes with Scripture or strategic sayings that call us to focus on God near our computer or in the car.
- Claim a special time and place for your longer times of prayer. Pray short scripture verses or words of praise at the beginning of each day.
- Focus on Scripture, selecting a verse that is helpful to you in times of crisis, joy, pain, or sadness. Repeat that Scripture as you go about your day. Reflecting on what words have meaning for you at that particular time in your life.
- Keep a prayer journal. Ask the questions: “Where did I experience God today?” What is God showing me in this event?” “What is God calling me to do in this situation?”
- When it seems our prayers have gone stale, pray the prayers of others and of the church. Let God’s Spirit be present to us.
Information adapted from book, Children and Prayer, by Betty Shannon Cloyd