Raising Prayerful Children

Raising Prayerful Children

I used to get up early to enjoy my bible reading time – alone. No kids. No distractions. And I love it…until my oldest was at the age when I wanted him to start his own Bible reading time.

When I began talking to him about it, he was very resistant. I thought it was just because he’s not a fan of reading, but the more we talked, the truth finally came out. He said, “Dad, why do I have to do this when you never do?” WHAT?! I was appalled. I couldn’t believe he would say such a thing. I read my Bible every morning, how did he not know that? Then I realized…he never saw me read my Bible.

I was so set on having my “me” time that I didn’t realize my example of trying to model the Christian life wasn’t being seen. That’s when I decided I needed to model the habits and behavior I wanted to see in my own children.

When I looked at the hard truth, my prayer life needed changing too.

I am not a fan of speaking in public, especially when it means I’m vulnerable. And yes, that includes my family. I don’t mind talking to them in conversation or correcting my children, of course, but speaking in front of them like for a speech – no way. That even includes prayers.

Here are a few tips I thought of that can help plant the seed of prayer in our children’s hearts.

1. Model it.

I put this first because I really don’t know that any of my other tips will matter without it. 

And that’s exactly what we MUST do if we hope to have our children learn to love prayer.

I have heard so. many. moms. say that they don’t love to pray out loud. It’s too personal. They’re afraid of being judged, or stumbling over their words, and sounding stupid. But I say that, as with all things, practice makes progress. When we want to make something happen in our lives, we prioritize it, get better at it, do it even when we don’t feel like it, or when we feel we might fail. We have to start somewhere, so I’m just going to start this whole article by lovingly asking you to get over your fear of praying out loud. Your kids NEED you to model this sacred, holy conversation we get to have with the Creator of life. It will help them know Him better, and if we’re not teaching them to know Him this intimately, they’re missing out. Most of parenting is living out our active faith in front of our kids.

2. Create rhythms of prayer in your home.

Over breakfast, in the school drop-off line, before bed. I set my alarm for 4:12PM every day and pray when it goes off. If my family is with me at 4:12, they pray, too. Whatever works for you. Think outside the box!

3. Most young kids won’t have a vibrant prayer life unless they have a special gift from God.

I’ve known one such child in my lifetime. One. It’s much more likely that the children you have under your roof will grow and mature into a vibrant prayer life in direct proportion to the growth of their faith than just have one when they’re young.

4. Expect seasons where they pray more and seasons where they pray less.

Just as there are rhythms of the day, there are rhythms of life. In the seasons of less, pray with them and for them so they don’t forget. This is a way you can carry them, like Jesus carries and holds on to us, in the times when their faith is weak.

5. When they get a bit older, ask them to lead in prayer.

I often defer to my boys to pray over things. My goal is to slowly coax them into leadership and help them feel as comfortable as possible praying out loud. I actually started this when they were very little. Don’t underestimate the power of connecting them with something bigger than them before they can truly understand it. I always wanted to bring them into my relationship with God as much as possible, again, as a way to model my experience and give them a taste of it for their own. It doesn’t mean they inherit my salvation—we must each have our eyes opened to our need for God individually—but if deep dependence upon God is something they see every day, in theory, it’ll be easier to understand that worldview.

6. When there’s a need, stop and pray about it immediately..out loud.

As I thought about these tips it occurred to me that my own prayer life deepened naturally when I began to need something from God. 

We’ve tried hard as a family to make prayer our natural response to most everything, but it started with my very first point above, which included getting over any fear of messing up. The very safest place to learn to pray out loud is with a group of little ones because they don’t know any better! And if you have tweens or teens, honesty is the best policy. Confess to them you’re learning along with them, and be vulnerable enough to ask them to give you grace as you do. You’d be surprised what honesty and vulnerability will get you with this age group!

I hope these tips are helpful as you think about any changes you might want to make that will help your kids learn to value the praying life. I’d love for you to consider bookmarking this article and coming back often because I’ll share more as I learn more! Also, if you have tipsor resources I haven’t mentioned here that you’ve seen work in your home, please share them in the comments so we can all benefit!

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