Isn’t it so good that we can talk to our great big God anywhere, at anytime and he listens to us! He gives us all good things, he loves us like a Father loves his children, and he encourages us to bring what matters to us, our worries and desires, and give them over to him. So how do we encourage our kids to do this?
Below are some things you might be able to use in your family to encourage your kids to pray and develop life-long habits of talking to God. Some ideas you’ll be able to vary for different ages and some things you’ll be able to use with the whole family.
Praise and thank you
It’s great to teach kids that our God is awesome and we can tell him that. For kids, their praise is often expressed in thanks as we show that we love God by thanking him for all the good things he gives us.
- For young children, you can encourage them to play and pray at the same time!
- While they play dress ups, say a thank you pray for the person they have dressed up as e.g. thanking God for firefighters.
- Encourage them to make things out of play dough that God made e.g. animals, and thank God for it.
- Use songs to help them learn to pray e.g. My God is so Big - and thank God for being big, strong and mighty.
- Create a thankful wall in your house: make a poster and write things you are thankful to God for on it. You could use something like post-it notes to stick things on and then when it gets filled, look at it as a whole family and see how God has blessed you. A great way to do this on an individual scale is to have a thankful box with small pieces of paper that your child can write things they are thankful for on it (great for young kids). Encourage them to write one thing a day and pray for it as they put it in their box. The things they are thankful for will grow and change as they grow up and it will hopefully encourage them to develop good habits of looking for blessings in their life and thanking God for them.
- For Upper Primary aged children, try reading a psalm of praise or thanksgiving and praying about some of the things you read together. Psalm 136 is a great one to start with!
- For all your kids, at the end of the day, encourage them to think of one thing they are thankful for and thank God for it.
- The Bible teaches us to confess our sins to God and that he will forgive us (1 John 1:9). Encourage your kids to think of one thing from the day they think they should say sorry for and remind them that God as forgiven them. For young children a simple sentence like ‘Dear God, today I am sorry for…’ As they go into Preschool and School, encourage them to think about how they treat others; and as they grow older still, encourage them to think of the things they didn’t do that they should have done.
- A great way to show that God washes our sins away is to rub newspaper a few times over your hands (they get really dirty). Do this with your kids and encourage them to say sorry to God for something they’ve done wrong. Wash all your hands so they are clean and celebrate that God has forgiven you and washed all your sins away through Jesus!
- Another fun way to do this with primary school kids is to get some toilet paper and a texta. Get your kids to think of some things they want to say sorry for and write them down. Pray to confess those things to God and then flush them away. For older kids, you can get them to pick a number between 1-10 and that’s how many pieces of toilet paper they get to write something on - one thing to confess per paper.
- To encourage kids to pray for different things like school, church, sick people, different organisations you support (you can choose your own categories): Make a dice (tissue box stuffed with newspaper) or have a large dice and stick pictures of your categories on each of the 6 sides. Alternatively, you can use a normal dice and have the numbers mean different things, but the pictures are great for younger kids. Roll the dice and the side facing up is what you pray for. You can do this as many times as you want to and have as any people join in as you want. You can swap and change your categories depending on what your family wants to pray for.
- To encourage children to pray for different people, have a bag of photos or photo album of people to choose to pray for e.g. your link missionary, family members, close friends etc. Let your children choose someone they want to pray for. This will be great to do as a whole family and a good opportunity to model the kinds of things to ask for on behalf of these people, or it can also be done individually, encouraging older children to choose one person to pray for each day, or even to pray for a whole week.
- For older children, encourage them to keep a prayer journal so they can keep track of the things they prayed for. Every so often encourage them to look back over it and see how God has answered their prayers.
- Create a world mission prayer board: Have a map of the world displayed somewhere for your kids to see in the house. Mark the places of missionaries or organisations you support. You could make little cards with some information to pray about with a photo of them. This would be a great thing for your primary age children to help make as they learn more about the world and what people are doing in different places. Alternatively, you can point out relief projects you support or particular countries you want to pray for or note down things to pray for around the world based on the news reports.
- For some fun with the family, have a themed dinner in honour and support of the missionary you pray for - dress up according to the culture of those people, cook & eat their food, write a letter as a family to them for encouragement and spend a good chunk of time praying for them!
A way of life
It’s great to show your kids that we can pray anywhere, at anytime and God hears us. Some ways to model this as a family as you go about your life might be:
- To pray for rescue workers when you hear sirens go off or if you drive past an accident on the road.
- Ask God to be with us in the day ahead in the car on the way to school or before you leave the house together and ask that he help you live in a way that pleases him this day.
- Pray before meals and thank God for what he’s given you and for the people who made it.
- Pray with and for your kids if they’ve had a hard day at school or thank God for the good day they had.
- If you go for walks around the neighbourhood, pray as you go - thanking God of the things you see and asking God to save people and praying for the needs of your community.
- Pray with them when they go to sleep.
I hope these ideas help get you started or maybe give you a few extra ideas to work with. How do you encourage your kids to pray? Why not share those ideas with your friends?
Amy Brown loves Jesus, kids, friends and good coffee, and life is great whenever all those things combine! She currently lives in Newtown finishing off her studies at Moore Theological College, while also teaching young people about Jesus at St Swithun’s Anglican Church in Pymble.