Did you know that teaching children to pray is possible as early as toddler age?
Within the past several months my almost-three-year-old has started desiring to pray along with us. He likes to list off the things that he’s thankful for each day (i.e. “thank you for…” mommy, daddy, bananas, etc.).
Would you like to know how to teach your child to pray as well? I thought I’d share some things we’ve been doing that might help you too.
Pray with them frequently
There are countless opportunities throughout the day to pray with your children. Here’s a few suggestions:
- Before meals and snacks
- Before bedtime
- After a timeout for being bad
- When your child gets hurt or upset
- After your child has a bad dream
- Prayers of thanks throughout the day
- When going out, pray for safety while in the car
Not only are these good opportunities, but they are times WE SHOULD be praying anyways. The Bible tells us that we are to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). God is always there to help, but we need to reach out to Him. Teach them this wisdom from a young age.
Encourage them to be still
Teaching kids to be still during prayer time demonstrates how prayer is a special time to show the utmost respect towards God. This is a tough one, especially for littles. But, even if it doesn’t seem like it’s working, it is still planting good seeds in their minds.
Teaching them the use of prayer hands can be very helpful with encouraging them to be still. Of course you don’t need to have prayer hands in order to pray. However, it’s good for kids because it teaches them that this is a time where we remove other distractions to focus on talking with God.
Pray in front of them
Kids model behavior. If they see you praying for your own needs independently, they will want to pray that way too.
Most of the time your prayers should be private. However, there are moments which call for immediate prayer. During those times it’d be a great opportunity to pray in front of your child. It can have a big impact on them to see you doing something that you ask them to do all the time.
If they ASK to pray, pray!
There may come a day when your child asks you to pray with them. It might be random and at the most inconvenient moments. But, if this time comes it’s vital to quickly agree.
If they aren’t specific about what they want to pray, simply praying a prayer of thanks should satisfy and encourage them. Plus, you can never be too grateful, so prayers of thanks are always a good thing!
Show NO SHAME about praying in public
Sometimes you can find yourself whispering your prayers when praying as a family while dining out or in some other public venue. This isn’t about praying to be seen by men (Matthew 6:5). But, it is important to show no shame about your relationship with Jesus (Matthew 10:33).
This models that you are confident in Christ and that, even if the world isn’t doing it, you are following God. Show your kids that following Christ is NOTHING to be ashamed of.
Ask them what they’d like to pray about
When your child gets old enough, ask questions like: “What would you like to pray about?”, “What would you like to thank God for today?”, or “Would you like to help us pray?”. These are wonderful opportunities for them to have some independence during prayer time.
If they say yes, but seem stuck, help them along with suggestions like “How about grandma?” or “Maybe you can thank God for the new friends you met today”.
Sometimes, they’ll tell you they don’t want to pray if you ask one of these questions. Don’t be discouraged or make a big deal out of it. Just continue to pray as usual. Once you start praying, they might think of something they want to interject. It’s all about encouraging them to pray without forcing them to.
Teaching children to pray is possible!
Teaching children how to pray is such an important foundation that needs to be laid as early as possible. Even if it doesn’t seem to be sinking in yet, stick with it. Remember, children are sponges!
Want a free cheatsheet to make this EVEN EASIER? Download it below and keep it handy so you can remind yourself every day to teach your children to pray.
Have any tips on how to teach children to pray? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below!