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Practical Tips to Increase Prayer in Your Children’s Lives
We know the value of prayer. We pray because we love God and we want to spend time with Him. We pray out of gratitude. We pray because we want to know God more fully. We pray to be conformed to His Image. We pray because Jesus told us to.
But how do we teach our children to pray? Other than when they pray in church or in Sunday school, how do we incorporate prayer into our children’s lives so that praying becomes a natural part of their lives?
Here are a few practical, easy-to-incorporate ways to increase prayer in your children’s lives.
Before saying grace at a meal ask each family member to say one thing they are grateful for today. In my family today we were thankful for our favorite dinner, a sunny day, time at the swimming pool and good health. I began the grace and each person added to the prayer by saying what they had said they were grateful for – “Dear God, thank you for giving us this meal, (next) and that it’s spaghetti! (next) and that it wasn’t raining today! (next) and that we got to go to the swimming pool! (next) and for the great blessing of good health. In Jesus’s name - then everyone says all together AMEN!
Sharing the joys of the day together, whether large or small, brings you together as a family. It helps you to know each other a little better and reminds everyone at the table of the many moments that we should be grateful for. It also models thanking God for those smaller things in our lives.
When you hear sirens in the distance bring it to your children’s attention. Something like “Oh, hear those sirens? Someone is in trouble - let’s pray for them!” “Dear God, please help and protect the people who need help right now, and the people who are trying to help them. In Jesus name, Amen.” You don’t have to do it every single time, but it models learning to stop and pray about anything at anytime. Paul encourages us as believers to pray without ceasing, and spontaneous prayers are a good way to demonstrate that.
Let Routine Things Become Holy Moments
Look for ways to turn simple things into opportunities for prayer, and share them with your children. This summer my grandson and I have been going to the neighborhood swimming pool several times a week. While we were driving over to the pool one day, I told him that I was praying for him when I applied suntan lotion to each part of him. I explained that when I apply lotion up his chest I’m praying that his heart will be full of love for God and for other people, for his shoulders that he will grow to be strong in the Lord, for his legs that he will go in wisdom where God leads him… He listened intently but was quiet about it. Now each time when we’re at the pool he says ‘Don’t forget to pray, Grandma” and as I apply his suntan lotion I just whisper a word or two of reminder to him “for love” or “for strength”… His little face just beams each time. At the end I say “Ok - you’re covered in prayer!” And he runs off to join his friends at the pool.
You can do some version of that for everyone in your family, even if you aren’t with them. If you’re doing laundry you can pray related to the articles you’re handling right now. Putting away socks might inspire you to pray for them to stand strong in their faith, or that they will go where God leads them. Once you get started praying for them in that way it will start to come easily to you. Be sure you tell your family that you’re praying those things for them. If you have just a moment more you could write a quick note to them and slip it into their sock drawer, “Today I prayed that you will stand firmly in your faith”. Even if you don’t have time to write a note, be sure to tell them about your prayers for them when you see them next.
As you’re getting your child ready for bed (brushing their teeth, washing their face, changing into PJs), talk to them about their day. What was best thing about the day, the worse thing? Volunteer the same information about your day. What was the surprising thing about the day? What new thing did you learn about God today? What do you hope about tomorrow? What are you worried about tomorrow? Then kneel with them at their beds and pray with them about what you just talked about. “Thank you God for rafts” (from the child) “and for the breath you give us to fill those rafts” (you). “I’m worried about Mommy’s head, God.” (From the child) “Please help us to remember that you are big and strong, God, and that you will be with us no matter what happens” (you). Keep praying until you’re through with all the things you talked about earlier, including the things you had mentioned about your day. Then say “In Jesus’ name, Amen!”
Teaching children to pray is a vital part of introducing them to Jesus and reinforcing their relationship with God. Our Lord gave us prayer so that we could communicate with Him directly, and getting children comfortable with prayer helps them to understand that God is always close and accessible.
Crystal Sarno is the Project Manager for the Keeping the Faith program. She loves the Lord and has a deep passion for training our children in the faith. She has two grown children, both brilliant and beautiful and a darling grandson.
The Keeping the Faith program has been developed to equip parents, grandparents and other caring adults for intentional discipleship of their children. The program develops and provides videos, articles, recommended resources, a monthly newsletter, and we regularly post on Facebook and Instagram.
In addition, the program uses Aslan Academy groups. Aslan Academy Small Groups are centered around the Keeping the Faith guidebook. The guidebook addresses eight key themes for effective discipleship including: Mission, Biblical Parenting, Back to Basics, Application of Biblical Truths, Heart Change, Character, Spiritual Disciplines and Evangelism.
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Crystal Sarno, Keeping the Faith Program, CSLI Fellow, is the President of Perspectives Group, Inc., a design and marketing company that has served in public, private and non-profit sectors. She is also a CSLI Fellow and the Project Manager for the Keeping the Faith program at the C.S. Lewis Institute in Washington D.C. Crystal is a mother and grandmother who loves the Lord and has a heart for discipling the children in her life and helping others do the same. She has two grown children, both brilliant and beautiful and a darling grandson.