"Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you." (Jeremiah 29:1 )
We know that prayer is the foundation of our relationship with God. It’s our lifeline, it’s our communication with the Lord and it’s how we intercede for others and ourselves. But how do we learn this practice? And how do we teach this to our kids?
Here are five tips to help you establish a healthy prayer life with your kids:
1. Model Prayer for Them
What does your prayer life look like? Is it a natural and consistent part of your day? Your children will notice your habits, what you spend time doing, and what you deem important to your day. We know that our actions speak louder than words -- so why would prayer be any different? Prayer doesn’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to wait for the “right” words or the “right” time. Just pray. Pray before meals. Pray at a stoplight on your way to school. Pray out loud with your children when they’re afraid. Your children will learn by watching and listening to you.
2. Be Consistent
Consistency builds habits. As much as we want prayer to become a naturally occurring response, it starts with building a habit. Bring your kids into this routine – let them build the habit alongside you. Could you bring your Bible to breakfast? Or maybe you ask the children to read a short devotional after dinner? What are simple ways you can include them in your prayers? Kids love routines and knowing what to expect. Building prayer into their day will allow it to become something they expect to do daily. Soon enough, they’ll probably be reminding you to take a moment to slow down and pray together.
3. Be Flexible
Life happens. Schedules change, things come up, and not every day looks exactly the same. How can we teach our kids that prayer is still important, even when it’s outside of our normal routines and schedules? Maybe it’s praying every time you get into the car or before you drop your kids off at soccer. Work it into your activities in a way that’s not dependent on a specific time or series of events. This may look different every day, and that’s okay. Simply coming together to pray whenever it crosses your mind is a great place to start.
LEARNING THE PRACTICE OF PRAYER IS A LIFELONG JOURNEY
4. Make Prayer A Natural Part of Your Day
How can we incorporate prayer in unique and fun ways throughout the day? Talking to the Lord is so much more than praying with our kids before bed each night. We want to do the things we’re excited about and the things we love, so how can we teach our kids to be excited about prayer?
Sharing the book, Hannah: The Belle of Prayer, with your children is a fun way to talk about prayer in a unique way. Learning what God desires for us through biblical examples will allow your daughter to grasp the concept of prayer by experiencing a true story. Hannah lived out a life of intentional and consistent prayer, and she saw God’s faithfulness. Rooney’s journey to understand the importance of prayer will stay with your kids long after you turn the last page.
5. Talk About Praying for Others
Prayer is so much more than simply asking for things or checking off a box out of obligation. It allows us to focus less on ourselves and more on sharing the love of God with others in powerful ways.
Teaching our kids that prayer is more than a checklist of “wants” is essential. It could be as simple as focusing on a different person or group each day. Maybe one day you focus on praying for your children’s teachers and friends at school or other family members. Maybe one day you pray for the missionaries you support or the pastors and staff at your church. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Start small and keep it simple.
Learning the practice of prayer is a lifelong journey. While we are constantly learning and growing ourselves, we can begin to lay the foundation for prayer in the lives of our children. Modeling prayer in a consistent but flexible way will help your kids understand the importance of prayer and the power it holds for all of us. Our children can pray powerful prayers, so let’s empower them to do just that.