Teaching Children to Pray: Some more examples and ideas
The more we incorporate prayer into every aspect of every day life, the more likely a child will be to consider talking to our Heavenly Father as natural as breathing. Here are some examples:
1. Read Psalms and sing praise songs together. Pray the words to the Lord!
3. Help children to be aware of answered prayer. It is important to teach children to look for God’s answers in their lives, so that they can see how He cares about all that they do.
4. Help children to see the beauty of God’s creation.. “Isn’t that a beautiful sunset?” or “Look at those colorful flowers that the Lord made for us to enjoy!” Etc. You’ll be surprised how quickly they begin to point out God’s wonderful creations when they have an awareness – remember to remind them to thank Him for His goodness to us.
5. Bless your children before they go to sleep at night. We use the blessing from Numbers 6:24-26 at our house: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.
6. Put on the armor of God at the beginning of each new day. Teach your children that the armor should be put on prayerfully, and will provide protection from our enemy, the devil. (Ephesians 6:10-19)
7. Whenever you come across someone in need, such as a homeless person, or the scene of an accident, etc. stop and pray about the situation with your children. Ask God to show you if you can be the answer to your own prayers by helping in some way.
8. Assure your children of God’s presence by praying for their protection, and sharing with them the promises God gives to us through his Word such as Psalm 91 vs. 5a – “You will not fear the terror of night”. ..or vs. 11 – “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” It is a comfort to know that God has placed angels about us and that we don’t need to fear the night.
9. Have special prayer times which are wrapped in family traditions. You can have a special prayer service for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, etc. This really demonstrates to children the importance of seeking God’s blessing and participation in our lives.
TEACHING THE ELEMENTS OF PRAYER
There is no right or wrong way to teach children the basic elements of prayer, and there are many ways it can be done. In the process of teaching about prayer many children can also be taught God’s plan of salvation. The following is just one possibility which can be adapted to fit your own needs.
A. God loves you – no matter what; and He wants to listen to and answer your prayers. Children need to be assured that God is always available to listen to them, and that even when they do something which is not pleasing to Him. they can be forgiven. God always knows what is in our hearts. It is always important to be honest and truthful – especially with God.
B. What is prayer?
1. It is important to teach children right away that our prayers are not for the purpose of getting everything WE want from God. Prayer is the way that God gets His will done on this earth. It is the way He has chosen to communicate with us.
2. Prayer is talking freely to God from our hearts. Prayer is telling God our fears, worries and concerns. It is telling Him about our problems and needs, sharing our joys, and talking to Him about things we don’t understand. We can talk to him as a friend.
C. Does God always answer our prayers? Yes, God always answers – but not always in the way we want or expect. He can say “Yes” or “No” or “Wait”. God answers our prayers to bless us, to teach us, to guide us, or to protect us (sometimes from ourselves). Sometimes His timing is different from our own – we always want things right away. but God knows that sometimes it is important to wait. He always has our best interests in mind, and we can trust Him to do what is best for us.
D. How should we pray?
1. In The Name of Jesus – probably the most important thing to teach children about prayer is that it should always be done in the name of Jesus. “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for any thing in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:13-14; Phil 2:9-10; Eph. 1:21).
2. The different parts of prayer – of course there is no set formula for prayer but it helps to have some kind of “plan” for prayer. Many use ACTS – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication as they pray. For younger children you can use the following: Praise & worship, Confessing our Sins, Thanking God, Praying for the needs of others, Praying for our own needs. (Also see 5 Finger Prayer below)
Praise & Worship: It is very important to tell the Lord how we feel about Him and how much we love Him. We can sing, read Psalms aloud, and tell Him how wonderful He is. (Psalm 147:1)
Confessing Our Sins: It is important for children know that, without the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, we would all deserve death. This is a good time to teach about how Jesus took our sins upon Himself No matter how bad we have been, we can be forgiven. Righteousness can be taught to a child simply as: doing what is right. If we do what is right in the eyes of the Lord, and confess our sins, our prayers will be more effective “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:8-9) This is a good time to teach about the importance of always telling the truth and not blaming others for our mistakes.
Thanking God: So often, we forget to thank God for the things He does for us in our lives. He is worthy of our thanks in all circumstances of our lives. We spend much time teaching children to say “Please” and “Thank you” but often don’t extend this politeness to the Lord. “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good.” (Psalm136:1).
Praying for the Needs of Others: Most children have phases where they are selfish. Teaching them to focus on others and their needs helps to balance this selfish nature It is important for kids to be made aware of the needs others have – whether physical emotional or spiritual.
Praying for Our Needs: Children generally have no problem asking God for things on their own behalf It is good to teach children to evaluate their requests based on the following criteria: is my request going to make me a better person or Christian, and, is what I am asking pleasing to God. (I John 3:22)
Remember, as we teach young children to pray, we have a tremendous opportunity to lead them to a saving faith in Jesus, if they have not already made that commitment.
E. When should we pray?
Many children know the obligatory times of prayer – before meals and before going to bed at night. Once they realize that God is ALWAYS listening, and that He never goes on vacation, or sleeps, they readily embrace the idea of talking to Him on a regular basis, and as often as possible. It is very important for children to know that they have access to God whenever they have a need, or whenever they have a desire to express praise or thanksgiving. It is also important that they know we are to set aside time each day to pray and there are other times when we need to pray corporately, with others.
For more information on teaching children to pray click on: http://www.lifecoach321.com/freedom-prayers/teach-children-to-pray/teaching-our-children-to-pray-a-parental-summary/