Prayer is an amazing gift from God. When we, when our children, when our grandchildren, and when those of the next generations pray, we are receiving and employing one of the most precious gifts given to us.
The sad reality is, however, that the busyness of life often leads to our prayers being limited to mealtime, church life, or bedtime. It also leads to prayers that are very simple and short with our children and grandchildren repeating after us. Without a doubt, the repetition of basic prayers is a good beginning point for teaching the younger generation to pray, but we certainly do not want to stay there.
If we want a praying generation to rise in our families and in our nation, it is essential that we help one another GROW in prayer. To accomplish this, we need to start praying and seeking in our own lives what we want to see in our children’s and grandchildren’s lives. And we need to believe that kids can pray, will pray, and will enjoy it.
Engaging the Younger Generations
Scan the list we shared last week. As you glance over it, you will notice that teens can do most anything on the list. Also, there are many ideas that are appropriate to children. Of course, it is true that in most cases neither the teen’s nor the children’s effort will sound like an adult’s. But does that really matter?
What matters is that we are helping our teens and children learn to pray to the Only One who is worthy.
So, go ahead. Pull out that list from last week and go over it with the younger members of your family. Let them help choose some ideas for Praying that they would like to try. And if you want some fun and effective ways to encourage your young children in the Spiritual Discipline of Prayer, check these out!
10 Ways to Help Children Grow in Prayer
1. BREATH PRAYERS FROM SCRIPTURE
Teach your young family members a short, easy, simple prayer that can be spoken in a single breath and repeated numerous times throughout the day. Cultivating the habit of Scripture-based breath prayers into the lives of your children will help them internalize God’s Word and enable them to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
ON THE INHALE:
“The Lord is my Shepherd…
“When I am afraid…
ON THE EXHALE:
Lord” (Based on Psalm 57:9, 108:3)
I shall not want.” (Psalm 23:1)
I put my trust in you.” (Psalm 56:3)
2. CIRCLE PRAYERS
Form a circle, hold hands, and take turns praying one sentence at a time for each “round” of your prayer. To provide modeling for the younger family members, it is best to have an adult begin the prayer.
For those who are praying via some form of technology due to distancing restraints, simply determine the prayer rotation (your virtual circle) beforehand.
3. CHILD-FRIENDLY VERSION OF THE “ACTS” MODEL
Over the years, models have been used by many to help guide prayers. In the ACTS model, each word is actually the name of a specific type of prayer. Try implementing this child-friendly version.
“God, You are…”
“I am sorry for…”
“Thank you, God, for…”
4. FIVE-FINGER PRAYER
Ask your child to hold their hand out in front of them with their thumb toward their body. The fingers of the hand are then used to guide the prayer.
|Who or what to pray for
|Those closest to you
|Those who point you in the right direction
|The poor, the weak, the sick; those in trouble
5. PRAYER CUBE
Incorporate all the parts of prayer into your teaching with prayer cube prayers.
The first thing you will need to do is to prepare the cube. Either print out a cube template to make your own cube or purchase one ready-made.
Next, on each face of your cube, write one of the following prayer prompts:
- “I praise you for …………………………” (Adoration/Praise)
- “My favorite part about you, God, is ………………” (Adoration/Praise)
- “God, you are……………” (Adoration/Praise)
- “I’m sorry for……………….” (Confession)
- “Thank you, God, for……………….” (Thanksgiving)
- “I ask you for ………………….” (Supplication)
- “Please …………………….” (Supplication)
Then, in turn, roll the prayer cube. On each roll, the “face-up” prayer prompt should be used to guide the “roller’s” sentence prayer.
6. HEAD-TO-TOE PRAYER
Provide kids with a tangible way to talk with God. Head-to-toe prayers relate topics of prayer to different parts of their bodies. Have children point to their body part and pray as follows:
Toes: Pray they will always walk in God’s paths. Confess any ways in which they might have strayed from His path.
Knees: Honor God with words fit for a King. Confess when they haven’t bent their knees before God but instead tried to do things on their own.
Stomach: Thank God for all His provision.
Hands: Ask God for opportunities to serve family, friends, and neighbors.
Ears: Pray they would hear God’s voice above all others, and that they would listen for the needs of people around them.
Mouth: Pray the words of their mouth will be words that encourage and build others up.
Eyes: Pray they would seek God all their days. And that God would give them eyes to see the needs of others.
Head: Pray they would have the “mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16) and always consider others, think pure thoughts, and not be anxious or afraid.
7. A-Z Prayers
Use the alphabet as a framework for prayer. Select a topic (family, friends, thanksgiving, praise, those who serve our church family, missionaries, world issues, etc.) and pray A-Z for things associated with the topic.
8. Prayer Sketch
Provide your child with a sheet of paper and some colored pencils or crayons. Have your child or grandchild write or draw the theme of their prayer in the center of the paper. For example, if they are praying a prayer of thanksgiving, they could write, “Lord, I am thankful for….” Another idea is to write a person’s name and concentrate the prayer on that person.
During their prayer, your child should be encouraged to add the things they are praying to their page. Again, this can be done in writing or by drawing pictures.
9. Prayer Board
Consider this a child’s version of a prayer journal. To create the prayer board, help your child locate pictures and glue them onto a sheet of poster board. Pictures might include family members, friends, classmates, pets, and things your child enjoys. Decorate the board with markers, stickers, and other items if you wish.
Use the board to prompt prayer by having your child choose a couple of things from the board to pray for.
10. Let Them Wiggle
Children need to wiggle. Their bodies aren’t built for long periods of sitting. Consider making it part of your routine to play Scripture music before or after you pray together. Let them wiggle and dance so they can better focus. Or what about this? Let them dance as they pray!
What ideas can you add to our list? Please share in the comments. We’d love to hear.