In our last post I wrote about Praying For Your Child. In this post, let’s talk about praying with our kids. I think most Christian parents would agree that praying for our kids is important, but we also need to pray with them. Why? Primarily because:
- God hears the prayer of a believing child as much as He hears that of an adult (remember how Jesus pointed to children as the very example of the faith He wants in each of His disciples? See Mark 10:13-16);
- Children will learn how to pray by…praying!
So how do we pray with our children? Here are a few ideas and tips for parents:
1. Establish a habit of prayer early in their life. Like the other habits of life, prayer will be a natural part of who they are and, eventually, of their faith-life, when it starts early. Prayer should be a natural part of our everyday life, regular & routine, for needs & wants, planned & spontaneous.
2. Establish routines of prayer in the child’s life.
- Praying at the same time every day – before meals, at bedtime, on the way to school, etc.
- Praying at regular situations – when you see a homeless person or an emergency vehicle, when leaving on longer trips, etc.
- Praying for people in the child’s life – family, relatives, church & school teachers & leaders, friends, etc.
3. Establish prayer as the first option in the child’s life. Children are sensitive to the family environment. They may not be able to articulate what is happening, but they know when Dad is stressed, or Mom is sad, or someone has been hurt in some way. In these situations, making prayer a natural response establishes the value and expectation in the child’s mind. It’s what we do when we are in need because God is in control still and is the source of our answer, strength, comfort or provision.
4. Establish a system of prayer in the child’s life. There are any number of “systems” for any believer to use for prayer. One of the more well-established and simpple is the A.C.T.S. system:
- Adoration – praising God for Who He is. This teaches children to worship and adore God, establishes a reverence for Him, and sets the tone for prayer.
- Confession – simply admitting what we’ve done wrong. When children hear parents confess, it helps them understand that they, too, need to do this, and also teaches them how to do so.
- Thanksgiving – under any circumstances we can be thankful. Allowing children to verbalize what they are thankful for helps to create a heart of gratitude.
- Supplication – bringing ours and others’ needs to God. Making this only a part of our praying with children helps them understand that God is indeed there to provide for us, but He is not some cosmic ATM waiting to give us our every want.
5. Establish a conversation about prayer in the child’s life. Talk about prayer with your children on a regular basis.
- Remind them that prayer is simply having a conversation with God, Who wants to hear from us and speak to us. Be an example of this by allowing them to hear you pray in this manner.
- Remind them that we can pray honestly, freely expressing our emotions, desires and needs.
- Remind them of how God answers prayer and how He wants us to persist in our petitions.
- Remind them of them many scriptures that teach and talk about prayer, including those that describe Jesus’ prayer life (yes, you will need to dig in and find these yourself!).
- Remind them of scriptural principles by praying scripture with them, applying the principles to their own lives (“Father, help me to rejoice in You always like it says in Philippians 4”).
As you pray with your children, get creative and enjoy the time. It should be a pleasure and not a burden. You may have to examine your own belief and attitude about prayer to make this happen, but doing so will provide a priceless gift in the life of your child, a depth to their faith that will last a lifetime.
What have you learned about praying with your child? How have you done so?