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Teaching Kids to Pray

May 25, 2012

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I shall die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take. 

As a child, I prayed this prayer every night before going to sleep. I didn’t quite realize that prayer was so much more than reciting words to God—it’s actually two-way communication with Him that can happen at any time and any place and can be about anything.

Children learn by seeing others’ examples, whether good or bad. Most things are more “caught” than “taught,” including learning to pray. After a few years of experiencing Mommy and Daddy praying at the dinner table, our youngest piped up one night and said, “I’ll pray tonight!” And so she did!

The special thing about prayer is that it is talking to your best friend and Heavenly Father. No one can control that relationship for you, but sometimes children need guidance and encouragement as they are learning about God and beginning their prayer lives. Sometimes before bedtime prayers, I’ll prompt my girls by saying, “Who can we pray for tonight? Would you like to pray for one of your friends tonight?” A simple suggestion can prompt thinking about what else and who else to pray for.

Prayer is essential in a believer’s life, but it doesn’t have to be boring for children! Make prayer interesting and fun for your children with these ideas.

  • Obtain a world globe and have your kids take turns placing a finger anywhere on the globe and spinning it. When it stops, see where your finger lands; pray for that country and the people who live there. If you have an inflatable globe, toss the globe around. Wherever your hands grab the globe, pray for that part of the world. You can also play “hot potato” with an inflatable globe. Play music and have the kids pass the globe as they stand in a circle. Whoever has the globe when the music stops gets to pray!
  • Gather paper and crayons for younger children. Ask them what they’d like to pray about or suggest something to pray for. Encourage them to draw a picture of that prayer request, then pray together. Hang the picture as a reminder to pray together every day.
  • Choose a country and make cuisine from that country for dinner one night. Research about the people, food, customs, clothing, weather, way of life, etc. and share your findings together over dinner. Choose one country each week or month, remembering to pray for that country after you enjoy your international fare!
  • Buy a small dry-erase board or chalkboard to list family prayer requests. As God answers them, erase and add new ones. Display the board in the kitchen where your family sees it daily.
  • Have your child make a list of her friends (and family, too). Each night, encourage her to pray for one friend or a few friends. She can place small stickers next to the names she has prayed for.
  • Play “round robin” as a family after dinner. Select each family member to pray for one of the following prayer requests: personal, local, state, national, and international. Take turns praying, going around in a circle until all requests have been prayed for.
  • Encourage family members to pray only thanks and worship to God. So many times prayer is a “give me” list of requests. Practice praising God for His goodness and blessings!
  • Older children can write out prayers and read them aloud. Encourage them to write poems, songs, or even a rap if they desire!

As you model your Christian life, your children will notice and learn from your example. Prayer is so much more than a ritual or tradition. Teach children that talking with God is enjoyable and desirable! They will not only learn the power of prayer, but they will become future prayer warriors for the world!

“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these’ ” (Matthew 19:14).

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© Christi McGuire, 2012

4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 25, 2012 3:36 pm

    Love this! And so important. I try to get my kids out of their habits of praying the same words over dinner every night – don’t just pray for “all the sick people;” who are the sick people we need to pray for? Last year our kids’ camp theme was on prayer and it was awesome how much they learned! The difference between prayers of praise, thanks and prayers of petition, and they taught them to use their hand to remember who and how to prayer: thumb is for those close to us, index for those who point others to God, etc.

  2. May 30, 2012 9:16 am

    Great ideas…thanks for sharing. Hope they work on an almost three-year-old :).

  3. June 4, 2012 12:22 pm

    Hi Christi, thanks for this post. We just started a new bible study series at home with our children focused on how to pray. Your post will help us very much! Blessings!

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