Teaching Children How to Pray
by Jordan An
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6
Christian parents have the unique challenge and privilege of not just raising their children, but of discipling their children into faith. One of the best ways for parents to model their faith for their children is through the practice of prayer. Praying with our children demonstrates our reliance and trust in God as our Father. If your child asks why you pray, remind them that God is their Father and wants to have a relationship with them, just like they have with you.
There is no one “right way” to pray. Parents can employ several different forms or styles of prayer to help their children learn this spiritual practice. Pray at home, pray in the car, before meals, before bed, or any time in between. This list works is not exhaustive, but serves as a good starting point for developing your child’s understanding and experience of prayer:
Pray from Scripture
Sometimes praying the words God gave us through the Bible can help us focus in prayer, especially for children. It’s easy to get started by using the Psalms, as they are often prayers themselves. For example, Psalm 56:3 says, “When I am afraid, I trust in you.” Work on memorizing this verse together and remind your child that the next time they feel scared or afraid, they can pray to God and say, “I trust you.”
Pray the Lord’s Prayer
When his disciples asked that he teach them to pray, Jesus gave them the Lord’s Prayer. It’s a prayer that Jesus used when praying to his father, and it’s a great prayer to memorize with your child. Consider this paraphrased version for children:
Our Father in heaven, holy be your name within our home. Make your kingdom present in our family. Let your will be done in our lives, on earth as it is in heaven. Provide for our daily needs, and equip us to forgive, as we have been forgiven. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver our family from evil. In Jesus name, Amen.
Pray the ACTS Way
The “ACTS” acronym is a great prayer guide, inspired by four key themes in the Lord’s Prayer: adoration (praise), confession, thanksgiving, and supplication (requests). We often treat prayer as a time to simply ask God for everything we want, so it’s important to model that prayer is much bigger than that. The ACTS format helps us keep our focus on praising God and giving thanks to him, regardless of the needs we might have.
No matter how we choose to pray, by regularly modeling prayer for our children, we show them that prayer is an important part of our everyday lives. Our children may outgrow the use of acronyms or memorized prayers, but the necessity of prayer will stay with them for a lifetime.