Prayer habits that last a lifetime are most often formed in
childhood. That's why it's so critical to teach young children how
to pray. As with most spiritual disciplines, prayer is caught more
than it's taught. As teachers model meaningful prayer lives, kids
will learn how they, too, can talk to their Creator.
Practical ways to "bring kids to their knees"!
Don't discourage a child from including a song from The
Little Mermaid in her prayer.
Here are the basics of teaching children how to pray.
Help children talk to God. Everyone --
especially children -- would find sitting down to prayer easier if
we could find a way to forget our notions of "correct prayer
methods" and just start talking. To do this, avoid focusing on form
in prayer. Rather, model for your children an easy, comfortable way
to simply talk to God as you'd talk to a friend. Urge children to
talk to God just as they'd talk to anyone else. They can tell God
about their day, express their fears, and even be a little mad if
they want to.
There's nothing too big-or too small-for God.
It's true; God can help us face the hardest moments in our lives.
God is also there to share in our smaller moments, too. He wants to
know how our day went. He enjoys hearing that the rainbow we saw
early in the morning made us smile, and that the bully on the
playground scares us.
Anything is okay to talk to God about. Don't
discourage a child from including a song from The Little Mermaid in
her prayer. Let her thank God for her favorite movie and share
what's in her heart.
Making prayers relevant to children's lives enables them to grow
in prayer. Because kids have a strong tendency to view the world in
terms of me, my, and mine, capitalize on this very normal stage of
development by focusing prayer on kids' everyday concerns. For
example, many adults make the mistake of asking young children to
pray for church missionaries. Chances are kids don't understand
what they're actually asking God for. As a result, God becomes more
A better idea would be to focus kids' prayer requests on asking
God to heal Damon's chickenpox, giving thanks for Jasmine's new
puppy, or asking for help for Alex, who may find it difficult to
sit through class quietly.
God listens to ALL prayers. God is always
there, willing and eager to listen to what we have to say. But kids
aren't always so sure; sometimes they need proof.
So give it to them. The best way to help children realize that
God truly listens is to point out answered prayers. Did you ask for
the quick recovery of Andi's cold? When she's feeling better, thank
God for answering your prayers.
Make answered prayer visual by creating a prayer wall where kids
write their prayer requests on one side of a divider. When the
prayer is answered, move the prayer request to the other side.
Thank God for each answered prayer.
Help children understand that God may answer prayers in several
ways. God may answer exactly as children requested. But God may
also answer in a different way, wait to answer, or say no. Help
children see these answers to prayer also.