Many Christian parents want to pass on their faith to their children. We are no different; we want our girls to have a vibrant relationship with the God who loves them so much. That relationship is built through spending quiet time in God's presence, reading His love letter the Bible, and communicating with Him through prayer. Like any goal, it doesn’t happen by accident; it requires a plan of action. In our home, we have used different strategies for different ages.
It’s never too early to introduce your daughter to the power of prayer. Preschoolers are capable of praying more than “God is great; God is good.” When my youngest was only two, we visited a 99-year-old saint who attended my church when I was a young girl. During our visit, we had a time of prayer. Each of us placed our hand on this precious prayer warrior and offered a prayer of blessing. The last to pray was the 2-year-old who babbled something incomprehensible. The woman was moved to tears that such a young child would pray for her. Here are some to introduce your preschooler to prayer:
- Explain that prayer, talking to Jesus, is like talking to their friends.
- Remind them that God hears every prayer they pray.
- Give them opportunity to pray from their heart. If they have trouble thinking of anything, start off with “Thank you, God, for...” and let them fill in the blank.
- Pray before each meal--even at restaurants. This lets them know that God is important no matter who is watching.
- Make a prayer book. Place pictures of your family, friends, pastors, missionaries, etc. in an inexpensive photo album. As you flip through the book, your daughter can pray with you or repeat after you: “God bless____________.” Unfortunately, I didn’t think of this while my girls were preschoolers.
When our girls were old enough to read on their own, I made them a prayer card that doubled as a bookmark in their Bible. This simple tool helped our daughters develop their own prayer life. You can make this card on a computer, but these directions are for doing it the old-fashioned way, by hand. Be sure to write clearly and print unless your daughter can read cursive. Here’s how to make a prayer card for your daughter:
- Choose a 3×5 card, with or without lines. Look for one in your daughter’s favorite color or use a white card and make it colorful with markers or stickers.
- Begin on a side with no lines. Hold the card in a vertical position with the longest side going from top to bottom. Begin by listing names of your family, one name per line: Ex. Dad, Mom, brothers, sisters, grandparents, other close family members.
- Next, (on the same side) list pastors, missionaries, teachers, or others in authority.
- Lastly, include things on the heart of your child like a friend who is ill. My oldest daughter included the country of China because she felt called to missions at a very young age.
- The opposite side is for your daughter. Choose one or two character traits that your daughter needs to work on. (ex. honesty, diligence, contentment) List the positive trait and a Bible verse about that trait. For example, if you need to work on truthfulness, then you may want to copy Psalm 34:13. If you’re struggling with diligence, you could copy Proverbs 10:4. Each day your daughter can read the verse and pray that God would change her heart. If your daughter reads the scripture each day for several weeks, she’ll memorize it without any trouble.
Of course, the card will not be accurate forever and will have to be updated every 3-6 months. Involve your daughter as you make changes. Pray together about which trait(s) your daughter needs to develop and encourage her as you see growth in her character.
UPPER ELEMENTARY/MIDDLE SCHOOL
Encourage your daughter to begin a prayer journal. Many Christian and non-Christian bookstores carry bound books with lined or unlined blank pages or create your own with a 3-ring binder and dividers. Here are some suggestions to help your daughter prepare her journal:
- Use a prayer plan like ACTS: Adoration – telling God how great He is Confession – repenting for what you’ve done wrong Thanksgiving – thanking God for His blessings Supplication – bringing your requests to God Prayer isn’t a laundry list of requests; it’s about building a relationship.
- Make a list of daily prayer requests, similar to the list above or help your daughter divide the requests: Monday for Missionaries, Tuesday for neighbors and those who are sick, Wednesdays for Pastors, Thursday for family, Friday for Friends, Saturday for School.
- Make a chart for prayer requests, include a space for the date you begin to pray for the request, the date it was answered, and the answer. Seeing so many answers to prayer will grow your daughter’s faith.
- Record the scripture you read each day. Write one sentence summarizing the scripture in your own words and one sentence about how it applies to your life.
- Write your prayers to God. Encourage your daughter to write her feelings, reminding her that written words should be respectful and represent only what she would speak to others.
- Listen to God. In my own journal, I record my thoughts and prayers in cursive writing and what God is impressing on my heart in all caps. Later, I can easily look back and focus on God's encouragement to me. Prayer is a conversation, not a monologue.
Prayer is such a key part of a relationship with our God. The earlier we teach our children about prayer, the earlier they establish that vital spiritual discipline. Earlier is better, but it's never too late to start. If your child is older, model to them the importance of prayer by praying before meals, talking about how God has answered prayer, and offering to pray with them about challenging situations in their life. My dear mother prayed blessings over us each day just before we walked out the door to get on the bus. And of course, pray for your child and ask God to give them a desire to be in relationship with Him.
These are just a few ideas God showed us to teach our daughters about prayer. Ask the Creator of creativity to show you how to best reach the heart of your daughter and help her develop a vibrant and powerful prayer life. I'd love to hear ideas from your family about how you have taught your children about prayer!