If we’ve established the habit of praying for our children, next in line is teaching them to do the same. For my husband and I, it started with praying together with the kids. For a while, they were silent spectators; but they soon realized that prayer meant just talking to Jesus, Whom they were well aware of. As parents, all we have to do is be vigilant and look for opportunities to encourage our kids to pray. Here’s what worked for us.
1. Before a meal
I have to give my husband all the credit for teaching our kids to pray before meals. As soon as they could speak, he would pray and ask the kids to repeat the words after him. Eventually, they started praying on their own. But when their meal-time prayers became repetitive, my husband would remind them why we’re thanking God for the food and encouraged them to use different words to convey their gratitude.
2. Before leaving the house
Another habit, again enforced by my husband was praying every time we left the house. Whether we were leaving the house for a social call, the park, church or school, we would pray together and ask for God’s grace and protection on our family. It’s no wonder that now, all the kids want to individually pray before we leave our home; and we have to cut them short if we’re running late.
3. Prayer for physical healing
Whenever a child had an ache or a bruise, my husband or I would hold the child in our arms and pray with him; asking Jesus to heal him. Eventually, the kids started asking us to pray for them every time they had some discomfort; which we gladly did. Over time, we started prompting the kids to ask Jesus for their own healing. Here’s a sample conversation.
Child: Mama, my stomach is paining. Pray and ask Jesus to heal me.
Mother: Baby, you can ask Him yourself? Just talk to Jesus, like you’re talking to me.
Child: Ok.. “Jesus, my stomach is paining.. please heal my stomach. Let the pain go. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!”
When the ache/bruise subsided, we would remind the kids to thank God for their healing; which they were only too glad to do.
4. Family prayer
There’s no better place to teach our kids how to pray than during our family prayers. Find a time that works for your family, when everyone can gather together. For our family, this is just before the kids’ bedtime. We read from the kids’ Bible, sing a few songs and end with prayer.
After several months of hearing us pray, our kids insisted on doing it on their own. They had learnt the semantics of prayer by hearing us pray every night. They usually start their prayers with “Jesus” or “Father” and end with “In Jesus’ Name, Amen”. But none of that matters as long as your child learns to express himself/herself to Jesus in a personal way.
5. Just talking to Jesus
The greatest joy we’ve experienced as parents is to hear our kids praying without any prompting from us. Yes, that might include them asking God for a pool. But it might also include a child gazing up at the sky and saying “Jesus, where are you?” or “Jesus, I want to see you”. And sometimes a more profound “Jesus is opening the clouds and looking at me!”.
- At times your child may simply not be interested in praying, and that’s ok.
- If they need to be prompted, you could just ask them what they want to thank Jesus for.
- There may be days when the kids insist on praying really long prayers; let them .
Let’s remember to teach our kids to “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). As I mentioned in my introductory post, I am learning alongside you. How do you encourage your kids to pray? Would you care to share with us in the comments below?
Other posts in this series:
- Let The Children Come: Introduction
- Let The Children Come: Pray for them
- Let The Children Come: Teach them about God
- Let The Children Come: Encourage them to pray
- Let The Children Come: Teach them God’s Word
- Let The Children Come: Be an example