Have you heard or even said,
“I am not comfortable praying in front of anyone, including my family.”
“How can I teach my kids how to pray when I really don’t know how myself?”
I get it. Prayer is hard.
But one of the best ways we can love our kids is to teach them how to talk and listen to their Heavenly Father.
Oswald Chambers says something like, “Prayer is the greater work.” Important things usually are not easy. I’ll confess, sometimes my mind wanders when I pray. I can find it hard to focus. I totally understand those moms and dads who attend my parenting classes and share their lack of confidence in how to pray and how to train their kids to pray. They feel ill-equipped.
So the first thing we discuss is:
The power of prayer is not in the one who prays but in the One who receives the prayer.
The pressure to sound super poetic and spiritual has now been removed.
Here are five approaches to prayer that can be easily modeled and taught to kids, no matter their age.
- Mealtime prayer.Some kids need a visual. Pull up an extra chair to the kitchen table. Ask your kids, “What do you say when a friend may bring you a gift or treat you to a special meal?” After they answer say, “Jesus is our unseen and invited guest. And since he has provided the food for us, let’s thank him for it.” Memorized and recited prayers are effective with the toddlers and preschoolers. That said, those prayers can lack … a sense of sincerity, relationship, or personality. Challenge your children and yourself to advance beyond the typical meal prayer like, “God is good, God is great. Let us thank him for our food. Amen.”
- A night time prayer is a perfect way to wrap up the day. Remind your kids that prayer is a conversation. Tell them how God loves to hear about their day; the good and the bad stuff. Their words don’t have to be “fancy” or “flowery.” Jesus evens says he does not want people to show off when they pray. (There’s another stumbling block adults feel when praying. Forget the Christian-ease and just talk. Be yourself.)
- The anytime, anywhere prayer.This is a prayer that needs to be modeled. It could look like: praying for safety before leaving the house or after seeing a sunset a quick, “Thanks God for the beautiful sunset!” It may feel awkward at first to do this, but if we think of prayer like talking to a friend, it becomes less uncomfortable. The more you do this the more at ease you will feel.
- Sing. Singing is a great way to pray. Even though a sung prayer of thanks falls into the memorization category, singing has the unique ability to reach both the right and left brain. Singing a prayer makes a big impact.
- Start a prayer journal. When my kids were toddlers and preschoolers they each had a small spiral notebook. We traced all the family members left hands in each notebook. At night, the kids would put one of their chubby little hands on one of the traced hands belonging to a sibling, mom, or dad and say, “Thank you Jesus for ________.” Having a tool like this can help with that old distraction factor when praying.
Consider this…if the Son of God, one of the persons of the Trinity, prayed and he took the time to teach us to pray…prayer must be a crucial part of belonging to the family of God.
And remember, the disciples, grown men, asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. It is never too late to learn, never too late to start.
So love your kiddos by praying for and with them.
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place.
When he finished, one of his disciples said to him,
“Lord, teach us to pray….”
What ideas do you have for training your kids to pray?
© LoriWildenberg. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Lori Wildenberg is a licensed parent and family educator, parent coach, and co-founder of 1Corinthians13 Parenting.com. She has written 6 books including Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home; The Messy Life of Parenting: Powerful and Practical Ways to Strengthen Family Connections; and her most recent book, Messy Hope: Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety, Depression, or Suicidal Ideation. Contact Lori for your next event or for parent consulting or parent training courses. Lori can also be found mentoring over at the MOMS Together Group on Facebook.