Leading Kids to a Life of Prayer

I didn’t pray as a kid except maybe when I wanted something. The truth is I didn’t develop a life of prayer until I was 38 years old. I was taught about Jesus but I wasn’t shown how to build a relationship with Him or told that He even wanted a relationship with me. Through experience, I have discovered prayer to be the single most important thing that I do.  It’s the most important thing I do for myself, for my family, for my job, for my community. I wouldn’t have believed or even understood that statement 10 years ago but that’s because my prayers didn’t change God, they changed me. 

We can’t be with our kids at all times but God can and is. That seems like reason enough to lead them to a life of prayer, a habit of communing with God, now. Here are 5 simple ways to help lead kids into a life of prayer:

1. Start with yourself. You can’t lead what you don’t know. Ask yourself if you would be satisfied if your children had your prayer life. If the answer is, “no”, start to develop a life of prayer today. Pray for God’s help and guidance. 

2. Use everyday opportunities. I can’t tell you how many lost items I have found right after I have prayed to find them or how many tummy aches felt better after prayer. There are opportunities all around us to model how to turn to God. Opportunities to thank Him, to tell Him how we are feeling, or to ask for help. The more you do it, the more likely it will become a habit. For instance, for a scraped knee: “God please comfort Wendy, take away the pain and let her heal quickly”; a scary dream or thought: “Lord give peace and comfort to Wendy and chase away the scary thoughts and fill her thoughts with funny memories”; a lost item: “Lord, remind us that we can come to you with the small things and the large things.  “Help us find Wendy’s car keys”; an illness: “Lord, heal Wendy and restore her to full health.” I could go on and on. Use simple, easy prayers that can lead kids to a habit of going to God. After you have a history of praying for everyday opportunities with your children, begin encouraging and coaching them to do it. 

3. Empower kids to use their personalities. God made us all uniquely and he loves and interacts with us uniquely. He delights in our uniqueness and intends for us to use our personalities, likes, gifts and interests when interacting with Him and His word. What does your child enjoy? Music, dance, art, puzzles? How does your child learn? Hands on, by reading, listening, talking, moving? Use what you know about your child to help them find enjoyable ways to interact with God. Are they theatrical?  Challenge them to “act out” a Bible story as you read it or put together a skit showing how a scripture could be applied to our world. Do they love music? Use your smart phone to pull up some instrumental music to play while you talk to God together or encourage them to write their own worship song. Draw pictures, develop hand motions to scripture, sing, dance, etc. Help kids see how they can use what they love and who they are when interacting with God.  

4. Pray scripture. Read a scripture and then help your child pray it back to God in their own words and apply it to what is going on in their life. For example: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28.
Pray it back: “God I am worried about the upcoming speech I have to give in English and I am afraid that I will forget what I want to say and the kids will laugh at me. Please take these worries from me and let me rest in you. Be with me as I give my speech. I love you. Amen.” 

5. Bless your kids.  Build a tradition of blessing your kids each day. Do it when they go off to school or when you tuck them into bed. Make the sign of the cross on their forehead and pray God’s favor and/or protection over them. Examples: “May you experience God’s love in a new and special way today, or may you always remember how much God loves and cherishes you,” etc. You can even encourage your kids to bless you.

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.” Ephesians 1:18

“I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;   turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.” Psalm 17:6

 If you are looking for resources with ideas on building faith in kids visit homefrontmag.com.