TEACHING! It’s like the everyday, common thing you do as a parent. May it be from showing them how to tie their shoes, or feed themselves with a fork, or how to make their bed and tidy up their toys, or eventually knowing how to add toilet paper to the washroom so you’re not left hanging, HAHA. Whatever, it is you as a parent are consistently teaching your kids.
So with that in mind. How many of you have heard the simple prayers that can be recited by memory even after your old? My mind goes to the constant prayer I heard “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep” every single night as a child I repeated this prayer. For me it showed me what prayer was, taught me a little and even caused me to remember it years later. But as kids get older and they continue to grow so does their vocabulary, understanding, and insight in God and His love for us.
In this form and thought, teaching our kids is important but teaching them how to pray outside of the memorized prayers is also very valuable. You see when your kiddos get older, they might need a little more instruction or explanation of the how to. Kids just like adults can come to God with everything, the big needs, the small concerns like a friend and a fight, or a broken toy, or a prayer request for their pet. Whatever it is those prayers will transform into mighty faith and constant belief in God.
But with this in mind sometimes they just need a little more help. Kids being use to the repetitive prayer, may be unsure how to broaden their prayers, or go farther with it in words. So encouraging them with this tip can help. Start off with having them say something like “God thank you for this wonderful day” and list one thing that made it wonderful. If it was a challenging day or something happened they didn’t like, help them to voice that just like they would a conversation. “God today wasn’t fun or it was hard but thank you for still being with me and helping me”.
Let’s be honest kids talk A LOT! There is no doubt about that, sometimes we are like “okay” just be quiet for one second, so I can hear a five second moment of silence and appreciate that haha! But, because they talk a lot this is an opportunity for them to get comfortable with talking to God just like they would a friend, grandparent, or parent. Ask them what they would like to talk to God about. This can be done in the morning before their routine if you are early risers or during the evening in the wine down time, and bedtime. Be open and honest, and pray with them, as well. Make this a comfortable space for them to explore, learn, and grow in their faith. Remind them that God is their MAKER, who CREATED and FORMED them, let them grow and develop this relationship.
So when journeying with kids and this theme of prayer, remind them of Jesus and how He prayed. In the Lord’s Prayer we read:
Our Father in Heaven, may your name be kept holy…
Matthew 6: 9-13
In this prayer if you read it over you will notice a couple of things. First, it begins with ADORATION, calling out the Holy Father and the Kingdom to come. The blessing that was given and being thankful for that. So remind your kids of that as they pray, maybe suggest that they pick a word to express who God is…holy, loving, strong, King, awesome, wonderful, caring, etc. So when they pray they begin with acknowledging who God is!
Then we see that in the prayer there’s a form of CONFESSION, asking God to forgive. Remind them of what our sins, or bad whoops can be and ask God for forgiveness of that. For kiddos, a lot of the time, it is confessing that they did something they shouldn’t have, or accidentally hurt their sibling, or said something wrong. No matter the case, just remind them that God and His love forgives and covers that when we let Him know about it.
THANKSGIVING. This one comes pretty quickly haha! Which is good cause everyone loves a thankful heart! But list something that you are thanking God for! Be that your home, their toy, a friend, a specific event, helping someone in need, good health, whatever comes to mind. Recognize the tender hearts kiddos have and let them express their love, gratitude, and appreciation to God.
Lastly, ASK a request or petition to God for His help in time of need. God invites us young and old to come to Him with our needs. This can be praying for a sponsor child and their protection, or help with homework or sports, maybe it’s help to be a better kid, or to pray for healing for someone sick, or a way to help someone in need. There are so many things, and kids in their moment and understanding will certainly come up with a request. Encourage them to find something to ask God for, and when it works out or healing happens, or someone experiences an answer to prayer, tell them that! Encourage them that God answers the big and little prayers that come from us.
These are just a few words and tips, but I believe if you and your family start praying prayers like this they will truly grow in their faith and prayer life. You will also see them grow stronger in it. It won’t be a perfect system some nights you may have the same prayer request but that’s okay! Keep pushing through, and teaching them; they will not waiver from it. The recited prayers stick, imagine how much more a prayer life developed and grown in their own words, and hearts will impact. Keep working on it and KEEP PRAYING.