Tips for Teaching Children to Pray

Simple Ideas for Teaching Kids How to Pray

Teaching Children to Pray
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Teaching children to pray is a vital part of introducing them to Jesus and reinforcing their relationship with God. Our Lord gave us prayer so we could communicate with him directly, and getting children comfortable with prayer helps them to understand that God is always close and accessible.

When to Start Teaching Children to Pray

Children can start learning to pray even before they can speak in coherent sentences simply by watching you pray (more about this later) and by inviting them to pray with you as best they can.

As with any good habit, you'll want to reinforce prayer as a regular part of life as early as possible. Once a child can communicate verbally, they can learn to pray on their own, either out loud or silently.

But, if your Christian walk began after you started raising a family, it's never too late for kids to learn about the importance of prayer.

Teach Prayer as a Conversation

Be sure your children understand that prayer is simply a conversation with God, one that shows respect for his unending love and power, but that is spoken in our own words. Matthew 6:7 says, "When you pray, don't babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again." (NLT) In other words, we don't need formulas. We can and should speak to God in our own words.

Some religions teach specific prayers, such as the The Lord's Prayer, which was given to us by Jesus.

Children can start practicing and learning these at an appropriate age. The concepts behind these prayers can be taught so that kids aren't simply reciting words without meaning. If you teach these prayers, it should be in addition to, and not instead of, showing them how to talk to God naturally.

Let Your Kids See You Praying

The best way to begin educating your children about prayer is to pray in their presence.

Look for opportunities to practice prayer in front of them, just as you would seek out instances to teach them about manners, good sportsmanship, or humility. While praying in the morning or before bed are common and valuable practices, God wants us to come to him with all things and at any time, so let kids see you praying throughout the day for a variety of needs.

Choose Age-Appropriate Prayers

Try to keep the words and subjects appropriate to your child's age level, so younger kids won't be scared by serious situations. Prayers for a good day at school, for pets, for friends, family members, and local and world events are perfect ideas for kids of any age.

Show children that there is no prescribed length to prayer. Quick prayers such as asking for help with choices, for blessings on a birthday party, or for protection and safe travels before going on a trip are ways to show kids that God is interested in all aspects of our lives. Another quick prayer to model is as simple as, "Lord be with me," before getting into a challenging situation or, "Thank you, Father," when a problem is easier to work out than expected.

Longer prayers are better for older children who can sit still for a few minutes.

They can teach kids about God's all-encompassing greatness. Here's a good way to model these prayers:

  • Start off by thanking God for being with you and for providing for your family, thank him for his great, unconditional love, and express your reverence for all that he is.
  • Ask God to forgive your mistakes. James 5:16 says, "Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results." (NLT)
  • Then, present your needs and requests to God.
  • Close with thanking and praising him for specific provisions and blessings.

Overcoming Shyness

Some children feel shy about praying out loud at first. They may say they can't think of anything to pray. If this happens, you can pray first, then ask the child to finish your prayer.

For example, thank God for grandma and grandpa and then ask your child to thank God for specific things about them, like grandma's yummy cookies or a productive fishing trip with grandpa.

Another way to overcome shyness is to ask them to repeat your prayers, but in their own words. For example, thank God for keeping people safe during a storm and ask him to help people who lost their homes. Then, have your child pray for the same thing, but not parroting your words.

Be Supportive

Reinforce that we can take everything to God, and that no request is too small or insignificant. Prayers are deeply personal, and a child's worries and concerns change at different ages. So, encourage your child to talk to God about whatever is on his or her mind. God loves to hear our every prayer, even for bike rides, a frog in the garden, or a successful tea party with dolls.

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Elmblad, Shelley. "Tips for Teaching Children to Pray." ThoughtCo, Jun. 6, 2017, thoughtco.com/teaching-children-to-pray-700148. Elmblad, Shelley. (2017, June 6). Tips for Teaching Children to Pray. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/teaching-children-to-pray-700148 Elmblad, Shelley. "Tips for Teaching Children to Pray." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/teaching-children-to-pray-700148 (accessed November 19, 2017).