In discipling our children one of the things we need to teach them is how to pray. If we don’t, they will be forever stuck in their vain repetitions. Prayer will hold little meaning if they don’t “get it” that we are praying to a real Person – the One who made us, loves us, cares for us. The ONLY One who is powerful enough to help us in all our needs. He cares for us and wants us to talk with Him. He’s always available to listen.
Our Lord has taught us to pray and we can use that to teach our children. But we must beware that this also does not become a vain repetition. Prayer needs to be from the heart.
In our family we have several tools we use to assist our children in learning to pray.
1. I pray around them and with them. They see and hear mama praying all through the day about all things. As I go about my day and something comes up, I pray. When they come to me with a need – or I go to them! – we pray. Whether it be a skinned knee, or a discipline problem, they know God is interested and is there to help.
2. We all pray together as a family. Each one prays aloud during our morning and evening family worship times. They hear not only mama, but also all the other family members praying.
3. We teach them specifics about prayer, from God’s Word. We take note throughout the Bible as to what He teaches about prayer, but we also specifically study His teaching to His disciples when they asked Him to teach them to pray.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism gives a good summary of this teaching, and we really enjoy the book, Training Hearts Teaching Minds, which gives a short daily devotional that helps explain the questions and answers to children. Although we do memorize the questions and answers, it is not just rote memorization, it is in the context of reading and discussing the questions and answers and the Scriptures they are based upon. We also use other books and resources, especially with the older children. (Read more about Notebooking our way through the Shorter Catechism.)
4. We utilize Prayer Projects, usually within our morning family worship time. One is a Family Journal of Prayer Requests. In this Notebook (spiral bound or Composition) we list needs as they come up. This may be the needs in our own family, or of friends and neighbors, or others God brings across our path in our community, nation, or world. We list the need and the date, then check it off and date it when the answer comes.
5. Another Prayer Project is our Focused Prayer List of those we pray for regularly. We have a schedule to help us remember to pray for various people and areas of need. The goal is to pray specifically for these things, for their current situations and needs. We’ve used both a simple page in my Redeeming the Time Journal and a more elaborate Lapbook format for this project. (Read more about our Focused Prayer List.)
6. I also teach our children to Journal their prayers. It is such a blessing to go back through these and see what God has brought us through. Our P.R.A.Y. Journals help us in this. We write specifics for 4 areas of prayer, based on the acronym P.R.A.Y. (Read more about P.R.A.Y. Journals.)
Begin using one of these tools today to help your child develop a meaningful prayer life. Add other tools as the Lord leads you. Don’t feel you have to do all of them all of the time. These aren’t a ritualistic format. They are just tools that help us teach.