As Christian moms, we know that teaching our children to pray is one of our most important duties. But for many of us, prayer is difficult in our own life and the idea of teaching it to our children feels like one more to-do on our very long list.
But what if we choose to see prayer as a beautiful invitation to connect and communicate with God? What if we made prayer as organic and commonplace as talking about the weather?
It is our prayer that after reading this post and listening to Episode 4 on the podcast that you will see teaching your child to pray is easily attainable.
▼ Jump to Listen to Episode #4: How to Teach My Children to Pray ▼
Prayer is a Conversation with God
One of the key ways to help make prayer less daunting is to reframe it as a conversation with God. At the heart of prayer is God’s desire for His people to communicate with Him. The Holy God who created the universe, wants to talk with you! Just like with people there are many ways we can communicate with God.
- Casual prayers offered quickly in emergency circumstances, while playing with your child, or in the mundane of laundry and dishes.
- Formal prayers that follow tradition or even a rote prayer that is memorized.
- Praying Scripture, as Heidi and I talked about in Episode 3 of the podcast.
- You can even sing prayers!
The point is, it doesn’t particularly matter how you pray, it just matters that you pray.
When to Start and What to Say
It’s never too early to start teaching your child to pray. With an infant, you are getting your baby accustomed to hearing prayer. As they grow into the toddler years, you can begin showing her how to fold her hands or kneel, or close her eyes. If a rote prayer is more comfortable, then choose a prayer that accurately reflects God’s character. Remember – young children learn through repetition. You’ll likely be hearing this prayer for years to come!
If you have older children, the same principle applies. If praying a scripted prayer is helpful then by all means do so. The Church has utilized corporate, rote prayer for centuries.
But don’t be afraid to invite your child into a more conversational, relaxed prayer too. This kind of prayer is one in which you are just talking to God. Perhaps you are praying for your day, asking God for His wisdom and guidance. Maybe you’re praying over a specific need. When we include our children in praying this type of prayer it opens the door for them to see how God answers, or doesn’t answer, our prayers. You can model the spur of the moment prayers that come about as we encounter people or circumstances during our day. This helps our kids see that God isn’t relegated to certain times or places but is in every part of our lives.
What to do When a Child Refuses to Pray
Heidi and I would humbly suggest that any attempts to discipline a child during prayer time is likely to backfire. As moms, we don’t want to make prayer a point of contention but we also want to help the child understand the importance of prayer and what a truly amazing gift prayer is!
Heidi and I agree that it is wise to choose a time outside of prayer time to talk with the child about it. For a young child, stay the course, continuing to train in folding hands, sitting still, closing your eyes, however you want your child to be during prayer.
For a preschool age child, this is an opportunity to reiterate your family priorities, which include prayer. Also, continue to model the throughout-the-day prayers letting them see and hear you pray. This isn’t meant to be a point of showing off, but of showing your child that believers can engage in prayer all through the day.
For all children, we would caution you against making prayer something you and your child battle over. Keep modeling prayer. Talk about what God is showing you in your own prayer life. Tell your children about how God has answered your prayers. Make praying and talking about praying as natural as talking about what happened in school or what book they’re reading.
It’s Your Turn
How have you taught your children to pray?
Did you encounter any stumbling blocks in this process?
If prayer was difficult for you, how did you overcome this and persevere in teaching your children to pray?
How might you encourage other moms in this area?
We invite you to head to the Parenting to Impress Facebook Group for some encouraging conversation on these topics.
We also encourage you to check out these helpful tools.
- How to Pray the Scriptures Podcast Episode
- Prayer Songs (10 Fingers Folded in Prayer)
- Creating a Prayer Journal
- I Can Talk with God by Debby Anderson (While we didn’t discuss this book in the podcast, it is an excellent children’s book to explain prayer to children.)
We are praying for you!