As parents, we want what’s best for our children, including a life of solid faith, values, and prayer. How do you teach faith to your children? How do you help them understand things that sometimes even you don’t understand? How do you teach kids to pray?
Sometimes it can seem like a daunting task.
You may search for the “right words” to say, the “right book” to recommend, or the “right youth group” to send your kids to, and these things are not unimportant. But the most powerful way for you to teach your kids faith, values, and prayer is to live them.
When you bring faith and prayer home from church with you, and when kids see you praying and living your faith in the “small stuff” as well as the big stuff, they notice. And they especially notice when your faith reaches out to them, too. The most effective discipleship begins when your spiritual life intersects with your everyday interactions with your children.
Although Jesus often slipped away to pray privately, He also taught his disciples to pray. As you reach out to teach prayer to your children, you can invite them to join you, or at least contribute, to your times of prayer.
If your child feels uncomfortable praying out loud, you can encourage them to pray silently or give them paper and ask them to write or draw their prayer. Most children would be glad to pray aloud or silently for a friend about whom they are concerned. You can talk about things you’re each thankful for and pray accordingly. Meals and bedtimes are great times for your family to grow beyond “Thanks for the food” and “Now I lay me down to sleep.” (Raising Prayerful Kids by Stephanie Thurling is an excellent resource for more ideas.)
Teach kids to pray: It’s not about asking God for stuff
As your family becomes more comfortable with various kinds of prayer, you can grow to see that prayer is not so much about asking God for things as it is about acknowledging God’s work and presence in the daily circumstances of life. This truth compels you to actively seek to pray anytime and invite your children to observe or join you.
This invitation to pray takes many forms. Sometimes it comes in the form of a spontaneous outburst of praise with gratitude to God for His love or singing a familiar worship song together. Sometimes it’s expressing an observation of God’s creative genius in nature.
In the difficult circumstances of your life or the lives of others, you can pray for God’s peace, for hearts to be open to His love and comfort, and for God’s will to be done. You can pray for God’s intervention so that God will be glorified. Sometimes you may not know how to pray; don’t be afraid to tell your kids that. Then confess it to God in their presence. Occasionally, ask your children to pray for you when you’re struggling; this models a natural dependence on God with your emotions and circumstances.
Want to learn more?
Take 30 minutes and listen to Episode 113 of our podcast titled, “How to Pray With Your Child“
It’s okay not to “have it all together”
You likely don’t have it all figured out, and that’s okay! Continue to work at being more open to bringing your prayer to life in visible ways. It’s good for you, and it’s good for your family.
As you think back on the significant events and emotions of your week (for your children and you), what are some little, but natural ways to discuss faith or incorporate prayer into your interactions with your children?
This post is adapted from an excerpt from our book, How to Grow a Connected Family.
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