5 Tips for Teaching Children to Pray

Then children were brought to [Jesus] that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away (Matt. 19:13–15).

If we were to sketch this well-loved passage of Scripture on a whiteboard, we’d draw the main characters: the children, Jesus, and the disciples. But there are also some other very important people we must not overlook—the ones who brought the children to Jesus in the first place.

Though these people are nameless, they did a good and holy thing, steeped in faith—they led children to Jesus and enabled those children to commune with Him. Because of their action, the children were blessed, prayed for, and touched by the Savior.

Oh, to be one of those people—nameless, but noble—who brought these children to Jesus. What a wonderful legacy they left behind! Imagine their joy in heaven today.

Our Own Opportunity

This passage reminds me that I also have the opportunity to bring children to Jesus every day. Many of us do. At home with my five children, I ask myself, Will I guide them to Christ each day?

They need Jesus—His presence, listening ear, and word of blessing.

Hebrews 7:25 tells us that “[Jesus] is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” When we teach children to pray, we are ushering them right up to Jesus’ welcoming embrace.

As I’ve taught my own children to pray, here are five insights that have proven helpful.

1. Model prayer in your own life.

It’s no mistake that in Deuteronomy 6, before God instructs the Israelites to impress His Word on their children’s hearts, He instructs them to first impress His Word on their own hearts.

He wants you to come to Jesus and enjoy a vibrant prayer life.

Then you’ll have something to talk about! You’ll tell your children about your desire to pray without ceasing, the sweet hours of prayer that have graced your life, and the empty hours you wish you would have filled with prayer.

Once prayer is a present (not necessarily perfect) reality in our own lives, we can also invite our children to pray with us. Pray before meals and bedtime, when everyone is naughty and things are going terribly and when everyone is good and things are going well.

May prayer be our first response and the mother tongue we speak at home.

2. Ask God to cause your children’s prayer lives to flourish.

Regularly petition God to move in your children’s hearts to attract them to prayer. Ask God to meet and draw near to your children and help them experience the blessing of pouring their hearts out to the Lord.

3. Surround your children with Scripture, and sing and memorize it together.

God’s words will weave themselves into your children’s prayers, helping them to understand God’s ways and approach Him according to His will (1 John 5:14–15). Your children will rejoice and have their faith grounded when God grants prayers sprouted from the seed of Scripture!

4. Give your children plenty of downtime so their minds may turn to God.

When I was a child, I spoke to Jesus whenever I was disconnected from the world’s demands. I remember roller-skating in our unfinished basement and swinging on the swing set for hours, singing to God and praying. I prayed when I played the piano every day after school and swam laps for swim team. And when I lay quietly in bed at night, I’d think about God and pour my heart out to Him. These hours sustained me and established the foundation for a lifelong relationship with Jesus. I’m grateful to my parents for providing me with time and space to pray.

With my parents’ example in mind, I intentionally provide our children with free time during the day. I encourage them to explore, create, rest, sing, play music, dance, and exercise so while they are stewarding their physical minds and bodies, God may engage their hearts as well. When I look out the kitchen window and see our little girl swinging on the swing set in the backyard, I ask the Holy Spirit to meet and commune with her.

5. Teach your children about prayer.

Prayer may be the most important thing we teach our children. Let’s look for creative ways to describe prayer to them and equip them to pray. As they grow, our children will need fresh ideas, deeper instruction, and continual encouragement. Let’s keep in step with them as they follow Christ.

At this point in time all of my children are young, so my lessons about prayer are short, sweet . . . and simple. For example, I teach our children that when we pray together as a family, each one of us matters even if we are just praying along silently.

I like to compare group prayer to the times when all the children come to me with a story, a request, or an announcement. Typically, one child will speak for the whole group: “Mom, guess what we did! It was so funny!” or “Mom, we were wondering if we could have a snack?” or “Happy Birthday, Mom! We made you breakfast in bed!” They know that one child speaks, while the others stand nearby and nod their heads, smile, cry, or raise their eyebrows in expectation.

Similarly, when we approach God as a family, one person is doing the talking, but we are all standing before God together, sharing in the praise, gratitude, or supplication. He sees each one of us and cares about what we are thinking toward Him. I ask my children to imagine how delighted God feels when a big group of us gathers together to say, “We love you, heavenly Father!”

Women, let us be the ones who bring children to Jesus through prayer! What a blessing awaits us there.

Which one of these five ideas caught your attention? Talk to God about your thoughts. What would you add to this list?

About the Author

Laura Booz

Laura Booz

Laura Booz is the author of Expect Something Beautiful: Finding God's Good Gifts in Motherhood and the host of the Expect Something Beautiful podcast with Revive Our Hearts. She'll cheer you on, share practical ideas, and point out the … read more …

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