Developing the discipline of prayer in kids is like trying to build muscle. It takes a lot of time and repeated practice. Each time you encourage your child to pray, he becomes more keenly aware of the ability that he has to talk with his Father.
“Thank you God for the birds. And thank you God for Mama and Daddy. And thank you God for my lovely bed. And thank you God for our “wunnerful” house. And help Will to not be in chaos. Amen.”
I love nightly prayers with my boys. Nash is a wonderful prayer already. I love his use of words like lovely, wonderful, and chaos that are not normally words you would hear from a 5-year-old. We have prayed with our boys since they were young. We pray at mealtimes and we pray at bedtime. We pray in the car on the way to school. Our boys know that prayer is an important tool that God gave us as a way to communicate directly with Him.
As a Sunday School teacher, it bothers me when kids are too shy to pray because they don’t know what to say. I pray that I am teaching my boys that they can talk to God and tell Him anything. God already knows how their days are going, who the bullies are, and how badly they want their pet fish to be healed, but He never gets tired of hearing from them. As adults we must pattern a life of talking with God about the small things and the big things.
A few weeks ago, I had the honor and blessing of leading my oldest son, Reed, in praying the most important prayer he will ever pray. Reed is a timid child in many ways, but when it came to accepting Christ, he wanted in all the way. He gladly prayed a prayer asking Jesus to forgive him and be his Savior.
Here are five ways to help kids practice their prayer muscle:
1. Have them pray Bible verses.
Encourage kids to choose a favorite Psalm and pray it as a praise to God. This helps them feel comfortable about not knowing the “right” thing to say.
2. Ask kids to say sentence prayers.
Allowing kids the opportunity to pray simple one sentence prayers in groups helps them to become comfortable with prayers in public.
3. Listen to songs about prayer.
Recently, I heard about recording artist Mandisa’s song “Dear John” in which she recorded prayers for her brother’s salvation under the track of her singing the song. Last week as my wife drove down the highway with our son’s in tow, Reed blurted out “Nash, I need you to pray the special prayer so one day you will live with me in Heaven.” Dear John just happened to be playing on the radio. God hears the prayers of His children.
4. Create a prayer board at home.
Place a poster board or sheet of paper on a wall or your fridge. Write down your families prayer request and pray for them daily. Mark times when God has answered those prayers.
5. Pray often and pray with your kids.
Priscilla Shirer wrote that she prayers over her sons that they will be men of honor, integrity, and character. Each morning we pray the same prayer over our boys. Kids notice when you pray for certain aspects. They ask questions and learn about the way you feel about prayer. If it is important to you, your kids will notice.
Read these other posts:
- Bible Reading: Teaching Kids Spiritual Disciplines
- Stewardship: Teaching Kids Spiritual Disciplines
- New Series Introduction: Teaching Kids Spiritual Disciplines
Read other posts in the Spiritual Disciplines series.
Jeff Land loves Life! That’s pretty great, because his job here at LifeWay is the Team Leader for Bible Studies for Life: Kids. Jeff loves his life which is so blessed by his amazing wife, Abbey, and their four sons, Reed, Nash, Will, and Tuck. A natural encourager and fun-lover, look for Jeff’s posts about teacher appreciation and game ideas. When not serving at work, Jeff serves 2nd graders at his church, First Baptist Church, Joelton, TN.