Over the next few weeks on Growing Faith, we’ll be sharing a series on prayer. Prayer for our families, prayer with families, and prayer with children (mainly 0-12s). The series will look at:
- Praying with babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers
- Praying with more competent readers
- Praying as a family
- Resources for prayer
Today, let’s start with some basics.
1. Pray for your children
I am sure you pray for your children. In fact, you have probably discovered, like Paul Miller in A Praying Life that, “It didn’t take me long to realise I did my best parenting by prayer. I began to speak less to the kids and more to God.” (p59).
Sometimes though we can forget this basic step – to pray for our children.
Years ago I read Praying the Scriptures for your Children by Jodie Berndt and it transformed my prayer life. Now, I use Bible-based prayers for all my praying and I have detailed categories for prayer (faith, character, safety, relationships and the future) that have broadened the scope and depth of my prayers for others.
I know some parents pray daily for each of their children. That is great and is a wonderful discipline. For myself, I have a five day cycle that works through us all. It keeps me a bit fresher for each and is more detailed for that person on that day.
I don’t think you have to follow a set strategy or format, just make sure you are praying for your family members.
Prayer for our children acknowledges God is in control, that we cannot change the hearts of anyone and that we call on Him to do His work in our loved ones.
2. Pray with your children
One of the most important things in praying with children is showing that it’s normal. Anyone can do it, anytime.
We don’t need a special time, a special situation, special words or a special voice to pray. We just need to turn to God and trust in Him.
So we can pray anytime, which may include:
- At the beginning of the day
- At bedtime
- Before meals – thanking God for the food
- When we have fears / bad dreams – asking God to take them away
- For our special events – starting school or pre-school, birthdays, etc.
- For world events – elections, natural disasters, wars, etc.
- About issues – problems with friends, when people are sick
- About character development – eg. needing help to be kind, gentle, compassionate
- For forgiveness - when we’ve done the wrong thing
- For emergencies – eg. for emergency vehicles with their sirens on
I’m sure you can think of other times and situations when you would pray with your children.
3. How do we pray with children?
Pray in an age-appropriate way and in words they understand. As they get older, the language we use will progress, showing them how prayer can come clearly from the bible, and also be more detailed and more varied.
So with a 2 year old you might pray, “Thank you God for my sister and that you love her”.
With a 6 year old, you might pray, “Thank you God for my sister, thank you that you love her and sent Jesus to save her. Help her to love you more each day.”
With a 10 year old, you might pray, “Thank you for my sister and the fun we have together. Help her to always know she belongs to you, and please make your word a lamp to her feet and light to her path. I am sorry for the times when I am not kind to her, please forgive me and help me to be kind”.
Over the next few posts, I’ll share some ideas about prayer with various ages of young children, starting with the youngest – babies, toddlers & pre-schoolers. This is a rather personal series - it is really a collection of the things that have worked for us as a family. It would be great if Growing Faith readers could also share ideas that have worked for them.
Wendy Lin lives in Adelaide and her blog is musingsinadelaide.blogspot.com.au.