When I was a young girl, my mother wanted to make sure that I developed a rich prayer life as I grew up, so she made it a priority to teach me everything that she knew about prayer.
She taught me to pray when I rose in the morning and before I went to bed each night. She taught me to approach God with reverence. Some of my earliest memories include the two of us kneeling together by my bedside – eyes closed, hands folded heavenwards – as we recited our evening prayers.
She also taught me to say special prayers of grace and thanksgiving before meals. When I got creative with my prayers – as I was apt to do when hungry – I got scolded for not praying properly.
By the time I grew up, I had learned a lot about the importance of formal prayer at home, in school, and in church. But – over time, as my spiritual life deepened, I married, and God brought new spiritual mentors into my life – I began to realize that my formal training had stunted my ability to have a normal conversation with God.
As Parents, What Should We Teach Our Children About Prayer?
As parents, we do our best to teach our children to pray – but we don’t always get it right. Usually, we begin by passing on the lessons we were taught as children, then building on the knowledge we’ve learned along the way.
What are the most important things that you want to teach your children? Here are a few of the key lessons about prayer that my husband and I want to pass along:
First and foremost – prayer is simply talking to God.
We don’t need to do anything special to pray – God invites us to talk to Him anyplace, anywhere, anytime.
We can pray in many ways. We can pray silently or out loud. We can pray alone, with friends and family, or as a community. We can even write down our prayers!
Praying involves both a speaking and a listening component – just like a conversation with a friend.
God always answers prayers – even if He answers them in a different way or timeframe than we expect.
Keeping track of how God answers our prayers shows how much God loves and cares for each of us!
One children’s book which beautifully illustrates these points is Every Which Way To Pray by Joyce Meyer. The book opens with Hayley and Harley the Hippo fretting over how difficult it is to pray because of all of the rules they must follow! Fortunately, their animal friends have a different perspective on prayer that provides them with the freedom to pray in the way that God intended!
Isn’t that our role as parents – to encourage our children to pray as the Holy Spirit leads?
Here are a few words from Joyce to introduce you to her first book written specifically for children:
Creative Ways To Cultivate Your Child’s Prayer Life
Once we’ve taught our children foundational concepts about prayer, how can we go beyond the basics and them to creatively incorporate prayer into every aspect of their lives?
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Create A Prayer Jar
If you are looking for a way to pray together as a family, consider creating a Prayer Jar. You don’t need any special crafting skills to do this – simply find a clean jar, make a label, and place it in a central location in your home with a pen and notepad nearby.
The purpose of the Prayer Jar is to allow family members to record and drop prayer requests in the jar whenever a need comes to mind. This can be a personal need – a request from a friend – or something you’ve heard about at church, at school, or in the world.
If you have young children, you can ask them to share the things they’d like to record or have then draw the request and share it with you later.
Then – as a family – gather regularly to pray over each request (and be sure to record how God answers your prayers!)
Write Letters To God
Another aspect of prayer is praise. A wonderful way to teach children to praise God is to encourage them to write letters to God!
This is an especially wonderful activity for younger children who may want to fill their letters with lots of artwork!
Children often have questions for God and letter-writing encourages them to share their heart and open a dialog with God that you can help facilitate.
Start A Prayer Journal
Keeping prayer journals is a wonderful way for your children to deepen their relationship with God and to learn –in a tangible way – how God cares for them and answers their prayers. You can help your child to create or to purchase a special journal of their very own.
What types of information should they include in their prayer journals? Here are some ideas to get started:
- Prayer Requests and God’s Answers
- Favorite Bible Verses
- Prayers They Write
- Spiritual Highlights
- Favorite Hymns & Songs
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What have you learned about prayer that has helped you and your family grow closer to God? What creative activities have you used to cultivate your child’s prayer life? How may we pray for you? Leave a message on our blog! We’d love to hear from you!