It’s not easy talking to an invisible person. If prayer is talking to God and God is invisible, then prayer can seem like talking to an invisible person. Most kids have a hard time carrying on a conversation with people they can see, so talking with someone they can’t see or hear can prove to be most challenging. Here are a few ideas for incorporating kids into prayer time:
1. Set an example by making prayer a priority.
Leading by example is the most important aspect of teaching anything to your children, and prayer is no exception. When we pray, our actions say that it is important to talk to God. When we participate in mealtime and bedtime prayers, we show our kids that prayer isn’t just for kids. When we stop in the middle of indecision and pray for God’s wisdom, we’re modeling our need for God’s direction. When we ask our children to join us in praying for something, we are choosing to value them as a member of our family team. Take time to pray.
2. Actively involve kids in prayer times.
Whenever you pray, look for opportunities to include your children. Encourage them to speak a prayer request or give thanks for a blessing and even to lead in prayer (pray the first prayer and pray the ending prayer). In our family, if someone prays something that we agree with, we may say, “Yes, God!” to agree with them. I believe the girls listened carefully so they could add their agreement. We also recited the same phrases at the beginning and at the end of our bedtime prayers each night which keep the kids involved in prayer time, or we might lay our hands on a family member we are praying for. Keeping kids actively connected to prayer time helps keep them interested.
3. Prepare for prayer.
Sometimes kids don’t pray for anything because they can’t think of anything to pray. Before prayer time talk about needs for your family, friends, church, missionaries, or even nations. You can ask, “Do you know anyone we need to pray for?” “What do they need?” “Who would like to pray for them?” Having a discussion about prayer needs helps children shift the focus from thinking of their own needs to considering the needs of others. Having a specific prayer request to pray for gives them direction in the prayer time and helps them to feel a part of the process. A little preparation goes a long way.
4. Keep a prayer journal.
When our oldest daughter was 10, she decided that she wanted to have a neighborhood Bible study to teach her friends about God. I suggested a few topics and a format for their time, but she made the decisions and led the group while I sat in the room in case she got in over her head. During their weekly meeting there was a time of prayer where each one could present to the group her prayer requests or answered prayers. Victoria or I recorded the date and the request in one column and recorded the answered prayers in the column next to the request. Each week we were amazed at how God answered the heartfelt prayers of His children. By the time the group disbanded a year later, nearly every prayer had been answered!
Sometimes we forget how many prayers God answers because our memory is short. Consider keeping a family journal for family prayer time and record prayers that have a clear answer such as “Help me to find my watch” or “Keep us safe on our trip.” You may want to keep a separate page for other requests like “God, help me to be more like you” or When your child sees how God answers prayers, they will pray with faith and anticipation anticipation , You may also want to encourage your older children to keep their own journal of God’s faithfulness. Not only will it grow their faith, but it will be a treasure for years to come.
5. Tell the stories of God’s faithfulness to your family.
A dear friend told us that they kept a book of stories that recorded God’s blessings and miracles in their family. This was different than a prayer journal because it included not only the request and the answer but the complete story of the need and how it was met. Since our girls were not yet able to read, we made our own book with pictures, “The Moore Book of Faith and Miracles.” Each time the girls looked at the pictures in the photo album, we repeated the stories of God’s miraculous power that helped Popples recover from a stroke, provided the van we wanted at a price we could afford, and healed one of the girls so she no longer required surgery or medication. These stories built faith in little hearts and showed them that God hears and answers our prayers, which I believe encouraged them to pray with boldness. Whether or not you make a book, tell the unique stories of God’s goodness and faithfulness to your family.
These are a few of the ideas that God gave our family, but there is no right or wrong way to get kids engaged in prayer. The best way is whatever stirs your child’s heart and motivates them to connect and to stay connected with God in prayer.