How Do I teach My Child to Pray?
My pastor mentioned this Sunday that the devil always comes with His “A” game. While the devil is on the attack, prayer is a powerful weapon against the enemy. I want my children to be spiritually successful so I try to emphasize the importance of prayer. Below are some tips to teach your child to pray.
- Encourage your child to begin prayer with thanksgiving and adoration for Jesus. When my children are younger I tell them what to say to start their prayers. My two year old prays the same prayer everyday but it is a starting point. I start off saying, “I love” and she blurts out JESUS! With time we add on. One of the first things they learn is that Jesus died on the cross for their sins and that is something to be thankful for. I have them repeat the following after me, “Thank you God for sending your Son Jesus to die on the cross for my sins.” This is foundational. We then thank God for meeting our needs. I may have them repeat the following, “Thank you God for waking me up this morning,” “Thank you for giving me a house.” “Thank you God that I have clothing and food to eat.” These prayers of thanksgiving makes them mindful that God is a provider and He is worthy of our praise. As they get older and more comfortable with praying, I take the training wheels off if you will and allow them to pray from their hearts. They offer up their own thanksgiving. I must confess that they sometimes can become lengthy in their thanksgiving but praise God for teaching me patience. I sometimes have to offer up a soft “amen” when they are praying, which is an indicator to them to wrap it up and give the next sibling a chance to pray. Don’t worry I am not a mean mommy that is hindering the spirit of God. They are more than welcome to continue to give thanks to God on their own. I certainly don’t want their worship to go cold.
- Teach your children about the need for repentance, initially and throughout their walk with Christ. I love how my Pastor’s wife offers up such a simplistic explanation for repentance, which is saying sorry to God and really meaning it. Children also need to learn that we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s standards and that there is a need to repent (Romans 3:23). Teach them to say sorry to God in prayer and let them know that it is important to admit their sins to God and ask Him for cleansing (1 John 1:9). I have had to ask my children for forgiveness. I have also had to repent in prayer in front of them on more than once occasion for being too snappy. This is such a humbling thing to do but I want them to understand that we are all in need of God’s forgiveness.
- Encourage them to tell God their needs. I have been guilty of trying to be God to my children. Allow me to explain. Yes I have been given the task of training them, but God did not ask me to solve every one of their problems or pretend to know the answer to everything. I am limited in what I can provide, what I know and even my ability to love. The Lord is teaching me not to become anxious about meeting my child’s every need and want, because truth is I cannot. My job is to do teach my children to bring their requests to God in prayer (Philippians 4:6). Humbly admit to your child that you can’t do everything and be everyone but God can. This kind of response puts God in His rightful place in your child’s mind and heart. Help them to connect the dots when God answers a prayer that they prayed. This then becomes their personal testimony which helps to foster a relationship with God, which is the end goal. I want my children to understand that I can’t always be there but God is ever present. Prayer teaches them to tap into His presence! Again this helps them to understand that I am not their savior, God is!
- Encourage your child to pray for others beyond her immediate family such as church family, teachers, and government officials (I Timothy 2:1-It is so easy for us to become “self-centered” in prayer. I want my children to cultivate a heart of intercession. They sometimes come home with interesting stories about their classmates. I encourage them to pray and not just think about how horrible a situation is. I also make it a practice to pray for their teachers and other adults in their school building and they catch on and begin to pray for them as well. Teach them to pray for the persecuted church. Voice of the Martyrs have great resources for children.
How about you? What have you done to help your child learn how to pray? Leave a comment below and let me know.
About the Author
Anika Jones is a speaker and author of the book Lessons Learned Along The Way: A 40 Day Devotional. She blogs about faith and family at LivingForLater.com and posts weekly videos on her YouTube channels, Living For Later (@livingforlater) and Living Life Now (@livinglifenow). Anika loves speaking about developing intimacy with God and understanding who we are in Christ. She serves alongside her husband in ministry. They live in Illinois with their 6 children.