Teaching Children How to Pray

(Article contributed by Sarah Cunningham)

Imagine what would happen if your child needed to strike up a conversation with an adult acquaintance.

Some outgoing kids would no doubt stride right up to that adult and deliver an earful. But many others would likely shrink in intimidation. This, unfortunately, often parallels how children feel when they are learning to pray. Because they’ve been taught God is important and powerful–like a judge or a king, children can feel insecure or uncomfortable when talking to him.

The tips below, however, help parents ease children into feeling familiar with God and learning to pray in comfortable, age-appropriate ways.

Concepts to Teach Your Kids

  1. Prayer is just like talking. Just like you are able to talk to Daddy or Mommy about anything you want, you can also tell God about anything on your mind. God made you and loves you, so he is always interested in you and your life. The great thing about God, too, is he is always with you so you can talk to him anywhere you go and he will hear you!
  2. There are no magic words for prayer. Sometimes when we learn something new, like prayer, we can be tempted to repeat it the exact same way every time! But with prayer, you don’t need to say the same words every single day. When you pray about new things that happened or new ideas you have, you invite God to be part of everything going on in your life. Whenever you go to pray, try to tell God one new thing about your day. It might help you to think about one positive thing that happened to thank God. You could also talk about one hard thing that happened that you can ask God to help you face.
  3. Make prayer a life habit, instead of just a bedtime or dinner ritual. While we do pray before meals or before we go to sleep sometimes, we can stop where we are right in the middle of the day to talk to God. We can pause to thank God for something good that is happening, to ask him for help, or to ask him to bless us as we take on a task. We can also stop to ask God to help us act kindly, to give us courage, or to help a friend.

A Model Prayer

Jesus did teach us how to pray. In Matthew 6:9, Jesus taught the disciples how to pray.

Jesus’ prayer, which we call the Lord’s Prayer, teaches us several things about how to pray.

  • Jesus called God by name—“Our Father who is in Heaven.”
  • Jesus asked God to do what God wanted or what was best—“Your kingdom come, your will be done.”
  • Jesus asked for things people needed to live—“Give us this day our daily bread.”
  • Jesus asked for forgiveness for what we do wrong and for help to avoid trouble in the future—“Forgive us this day as we forgive others. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

Just like Jesus, we can call God by name when we speak to him. We can also ask God to do what is best in our lives, to give us what we need, and to help us stay away from trouble.

Looking for more resources on prayer? Pray to God, a Frolic board book, teaches littles ones 0-3 that they can pray to God anywhere, any time, in any way, and about anything! To learn more about the book, click here

Photo credit: Beth Jones International

Originally Published 3/23/2017

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