Teaching Children To Pray

Written by Ellen Bitler, Director of Children's Ministry at Stone's Throw Church. 

When my son was three years old, we used to talk in the car together on a regular basis (come to think of it, most of our best conversations still happen in the car).  With an infant and a toddler underfoot, I rarely found quiet, alone time to go before the Lord so I often engaged my preschooler in praying for family and friends when we drove places.  I would share, in age appropriate language my concerns and requests aloud.  When I prompted Matthew to pray for people who lived in our house, he went through a laundry list of pets, toys and managed to include his parents, most specifically praying for his favorite stuffed animal, Hiccup.  His prayer was so unique and genuine, I actually wrote it down: "Dear Jesus, Please help Hiccup not live in a tree, help him listen and obey, help him not hit his leg.  We love you Jesus, Amen".  I prayed right along with my concerned son, not even cracking a smile at poor Hiccup's rough living situation.  Ten years later, Matthew is still sharing his anxieties and worry with me and with the Lord.  Now he prays for friendships gone sideways, wisdom on quizzes and being more Christ-like in his responses to his over bearing parents.  

Helping children pray does not require a magic formula or a special location, but rather communicating to our children that God loves them and longs to hear from them (even if their requests are fictitious in nature).  Modeling prayer for those younger than us shines a light on our belief that God is in control and that we can trust God with our fears and concerns, whatever they might be.  Praying out loud with and for our children can be short and happen almost anywhere at any time.  Take turns praying before meals and before bedtime.  Pray before leaving on a road trip.  Pray for a friend who scraped their knee.  Pray out loud and pray often.  Let your children know you are praying for them.

Struggling to get started?  Try praying the Lord's Prayer (found in Matthew 6:9-13).  

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