A few years ago our youngest daughter had a medical emergency. Our world was in a middle of a pandemic and the last place we want to end up was in the emergency room with our baby.
We tried to remain calm, but I think our other kids sensed our anxiety. Our oldest daughter, without prompting folded her hands and started praying Psalm 23.
In the middle of this tense situation, I almost burst into tears because our daughter was praying POWERFUL prayers over her sister.
It made my mama’s heart so happy.
Thankfully with medication AND prayer, we did not end up in the emergency room!
But this situation reaffirmed to me just how important it is for kids to learn how to pray. It’s a powerful tool they can use for the rest of their life.
We’ve been teaching our kids to pray since a very young age. In fact, we don’t think there is ever an age where they are too young to start.
- You may be thinking, “Sometimes I feel uncomfortable praying. Especially out loud. How am I going to teach my child to do this?”
- I’ve been there, nervous you’ll say something wrong. It can feel intimidating when you pray out loud, but you can learn to move past it.
- Keep reading to find 4 practical steps to teach your child how to pray powerful prayers!
#1 Just Start
Growing up I went to church, but I didn’t do a lot of praying out loud. It wasn’t until I met my husband that I realized how powerful it is to pray aloud.
If you or your child is nervous about praying out loud, just start. It doesn’t have to be perfect. With time and practice, kids gain confidence.
Jesus gives an example of how to pray in the Bible. You can read the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-15.
In the prayer, we read about honor being given to our Father in heaven, forgiveness being sought, and protection and provision being asked for.
I’m hesitant to give you a “formula” to teach your children to pray because prayer isn’t about following XYZ.
But for little kids, it is helpful to give them guidance until they become more verbal and confident at praying.
At dinnertime, our kids usually say something like “Thank you Lord ______ (insert something you are thankful for: for this day, for this food, etc.). We ask that you would bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.”
Of course, there are times they add in extra words, but this is the “format” they generally follow.
When they were first learning we encouraged our kids to thank and praise God first. Then ask for provision or blessing or help.
#2 Pray the Scriptures
If your child is nervous about starting. Start simple. Pray the scriptures.
For example, we read in Psalm 23 verses 1-2 (NIV) “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters.”
So pray something like “We thank you Lord that you are our shepherd. That with you we lack nothing. Thank you that you lead us beside quiet waters.”
Scripture can give you and your kids the words to pray. And we know God’s word is so powerful.
We read in Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV) For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
When we use the Word of the Lord in our prayers, something shifts in the atmosphere. Teach your kids to pray powerful prayers by praying the Bible!
#3 Start Young
Start by including your toddler in your prayer time. It’s as simple as that.
Before bed, we pray with each of our children. It was the sweetest thing the first time our two-year-old put her hands together and said a little prayer. Ending with a loud “AMEN!”
Starting young and praying daily is one of the best ways to raise a confident prayer. It will become a part of who they are. Sure, when we have guests for dinner sometimes our kids are a little nervous to pray in front of strangers.
But we encourage them and give them opportunities to pray each day.
Bonus tip! Don’t be afraid to let your kids hear how you communicate with God. Pray in front of them. Our kids are always watching so be the example.
#3 Give Them A Chance
This leads me to the third step. Give your kids an opportunity to pray themselves.
We usually pray for our kids before bed, but we also have them pray for each other. As a family, we take turns praying.
We also use opportunities throughout the day to pray together. If we drive by an accident on the road, we take time to pray for the passengers and the first responders.
Your church may also give your kids a chance to pray. Don’t shy away from this! Once a month the kids at our church pray for anyone who is sick or has a prayer need. It’s a great opportunity to teach the children about the power of prayer.
Our daughter was also given a prayer partner at her school.
The gist: Find ways and opportunities for them to see the power of prayer.
Don’t shy away from it just because they are kids. For although they may not understand everything we do Jesus himself said “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14 (NIV)
#4 Give Guidance and Answer Any Questions
This seems obvious, but don’t put too much pressure on your kids to pray perfectly. It takes time. Give them guidance, and encourage their hearts, but don’t pressure them to get it perfect.
Share with them how wonderful it is to be able to communicate with our Heavenly Father. Prayer is a way to do this. Teach them about what the Bible says about prayer.
Sometimes our young kids (ages 2-4) need help starting a prayer. Model for your children. Start by addressing God, then spend some time thanking Him.
Then at night, we usually ask that He would watch over kids and bless their sleep.
Looking for more? Here are scriptures to pray for sweet dreams at bedtime!
Lastly, be available if they have any questions. Have open discussions about it. If you establish an open relationship where you can talk about important things now, it will be easier to have these conversations as your kids get older.
Bottom line: Expose them to prayer and the power of it. Then pray God continues to pursue their hearts.
We can’t guarantee our kid’s salvation, but the Bible does say “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6 (NIV).
So how about you? How do you teach your children to pray powerful prayers?
We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.