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8 Tips for Teaching Your Kids to Pray

8 Tips for Teaching Your Kids to Pray

Do your kids ever see and hear you praying? Mind don’t. I do most of my praying when they’re not around or silently in my heart {Lord, give me strength!}. Outside of our bedtime prayers together, my kids probably don’t even know that I pray at all.

I haven’t done the best job modeling prayer for them. How then are they supposed to learn to have conversations with God?

God gave us prayer as a means of making Himself personal and accessible to us. Prayer brings us into close conversation with the Maker of Heaven and earth. What better gift can we give our kids than teach them to pray and develop an intimate relationship with the Lord?

So I’m trying… trying to be more intentional about prayer, both for myself and for my kids. And not just for my kids but with my kids and in front of my kids.

That’s how they will learn to pray.

So here are some tips I’ve compiled for myself, and I hope they will help you too:

Pray more often. The Bible says pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Are you praying that much? I feel like I pray pretty often, but definitely not ceaselessly. So the first thing we can do is to pray more often, in more situations, and all throughout the day.

Pray out loud. This is the # thing that I need to do differently. I talk to Jesus often throughout the day. I thank Him for the good parking spot and for the sunshine and for the time I have with my kids. I pray in the morning and at bedtime. I pray when things aren’t going so well. But all this praying I do quietly, in my heart; no one hears me. We need to pray out loud. (Except maybe not the “Jesus, give me strength to deal with these monsters!” That can say in our heads.)

Have your quiet time while they’re awake. I know there are lots of resources that say you should get up extra early before your kids and have your quiet time in the still solitude of the early morning. That just doesn’t work for me. My kids get up before me in the morning or, at the best, when I get up. They just don’t sleep in. Ever. So, I gave up on the getting up before them plan and have my quiet time when they’re awake. I read my devotional, I journal in my Bible, and I pray. If I do my praying out loud, they will hear me, and that’s the goal.

Pray with them. I mentioned the bedtime prayers above, but it is worth mentioning again. Praying with our children teaches them that it’s part of the everyday. If you’re not sure what to pray with them, keep it simple. Be grateful and make requests. Let your kids thank Him for five or six of the good things in their lives and ask Him to intercede in a situation or two. Or six. Let it be up to them.

Grab a copy of I Can Learn to Pray and read it together. This book is a wonderful collection of 52 devotions meant to be read weekly. Holly Hawkins Shivers covers everything from learning to pray to Thank You prayers to I’m sorry prayers, and they will have your kids in the habit of prayer in no time at all.

Help them along. It might be hard for little ones to think of what to say in the beginning. They may not understand that God is in every minute detail and may be reluctant to bring those things to Him. Or they may just draw a blank. If this happens, help them along by starting the prayer and letting them finish. It’s okay to ask questions in the middle like, “Thank you for our cats. What do you like most about the cats, Allie?” Asking questions will get them involved and help them to understand that God cares about their thoughts, too.

Confess. Confessing and repenting are important parts of prayer time, so teach your children to confess their sins by talking about it ahead of time. When they do something wrong and get in trouble, perhaps you can pray with them and ask God to forgive them. If you do it together, they will be more likely to do it on their own as they get older.

Pray together outside of bedtime. Pray at mealtimes. Pray in the morning. Pray when you’re heading out in the car. Pray when something good happens. Have your kids join you in prayer at all times of the day.

Obviously, sooner is better when it comes to teaching your kids about prayer. If they can talk, they can learn to pray. But the cause isn’t lost if your kids are older. Mine are five and eight-years-old, and this is still a work in progress. And it always will be. Aren’t we all a work-in-progress? Thank you, Jesus, for your mercy and grace.

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