Teaching Your Child to Pray
How can you teach your children to pray if you were never taught about God and prayer as a child?
At all different ages, children may start asking about God. At the age of 5, one little boy in particular asked his mother about God. She didn’t know what to tell him. She wasn’t taught about God as she was growing up, and she wasn’t attending any church. She asked me about my experiences, so I tried to help guide her in what to do.
I suggested she could teach him to pray. I mentioned she could start out small, teaching him to thank God for Mommy, Daddy, family, friends and for all his blessings, which could include toys, etc., and to end in Jesus’ name.
Being raised by God-fearing parents, I was taught to pray as a small child. My parents would also sit down and read to us from a children’s Bible storybook, and then we would discuss it. I remember enjoying these times and learning so much about God and what He could do. My husband and I also taught our children to pray from a very early age. We taught them to pray in the morning when they got up and when they went to bed each night.
The Model Prayer can give even little children a framework for what to say to God. You will be amazed at how detailed children can get when they learn to pray and do it regularly.I was inspired to write about this subject by talking with the mother whose 5-year-old wanted to know about God and by a message I heard in church: “The Reverence of a Child.” The speaker mentioned young parents who did the same thing we did—reading to their young children and teaching them to pray. What was born was heartfelt reverence—belief that God could and would do what He promised.
Blueprint for teaching prayer
How can you teach your children to pray if you were never exposed to or taught about God and prayer as a child?
The Bible actually includes a blueprint, or an outline, for prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. Though it is commonly called the “Lord’s Prayer,” many believe a better description of it is the “Model Prayer.” This prayer can give even little children a framework for what to say to God.
1. Thank God first. Start with having your children thank God for the good things in their life—such as Mommy, Daddy, grandparents, school, toys and siblings. There are many scriptures that teach us about thanking and praising God. For example, 1 Chronicles 23:30 says, “To stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord, and likewise at evening.”
As your children get older and understand more about the Bible, you can start adding these next points:
2. Pray for God’s Kingdom. Teach them to pray for God’s Kingdom—the time when God will be in charge of everyone and everything—to come soon (Matthew 6:33). Help your children learn the need for God’s Kingdom in your daily conversations. (Learn more about this in the article “What Is the Kingdom of God?”)
3. Pray for others. Encourage them to pray for the needs of their family, those at church and those who are suffering. Help them learn to care for others through prayer.
4. Pray for forgiveness of sin. Help your children learn that they should go to God for forgiveness when they make mistakes.
5. Pray for protection. Praying for protection helps children learn to rely on God. Some children have nightmares from time to time. They can be taught to pray that God will give them good dreams, not bad ones. They can ask God to protect their family, friends and loved ones.
6. Thank and praise God again. Christ’s model prayer begins and ends with praise toward God (Matthew 6:8, 13).
7. End the prayer “in Jesus’ name. Amen.” Children should learn very early the biblical form of prayer—that prayer is to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen basically means “so let it be.” It is a way to agree with someone else’s prayer or put a seal on our own.
These are simple things that a child will pick up very quickly. You will be amazed at how detailed children can get when they learn how to pray and do it regularly.