My wife and I try hard to pray with our kids several times a day. We offer the usual blessing before each meal and end any disciplinary action in prayer. We also pray before we go down for nap and before bedtime. It has gotten to the point that if we forget, our kids get upset and remind us. Go kids!!
What we have a hard time with is to give our kids good examples when we pray. Let me explain that one a little. How may of you remember the little prayer below:
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray for God my soul to keep;
Or if I die before I wake,
I pray for God my soul to take.
Yeah, I was raised with that prayer from the 18th century The New England Primer as well. There are now over 15 verses and variation of that prayer. All of them have to do with the person praying. This isn’t bad, but prayer should be a conversation not a dictation. Are we inadvertently teaching our kids bad prayer habits? Well, I realized we were.
Most of our prayers have not changed. Our meals are still started by asking for God’s blessing and thanking Him for his previsions. When disciplined our kids still pray for forgiveness and strength to do what is right. However, at nap time and bedtime we have tried to introduce a few other elements. We don’t do all of them at every prayer but we try to always use at least one. So, here are a few ideas to help kids move beyond the selfish prayers we are all guilty of:
- Ask your child for one good thing that happened that day and thank God specifically for that.
- Ask your child for the name of a friend to pray for that day.
- If you know of a friend that is sick then pray for them as well.
- Pray for your child’s teachers and other authority figures.
- Ask your child what they studied or learned that day and use it in prayer.
- Use mini prayers with your kids to ask God for help throughout the day.
- Use the Joshua Project to find an unreached people group to learn about and pray for.
- Memorize and recite the Lord’s Prayer with your kids.
- Keep a prayer journal with your children and watch how God answers prayer. Don’t just pray about a subject and then forget about it.
There are lots of ways to expand our children’s understanding of pray. Remember, we are the example to our kids. They will learn to pray in the same way we model prayer to them. There is nothing wrong with praying for help, provisions, or a good night sleep. If this is all we are praying for though, we are missing a huge opportunity to share God with our kids. Do you have other ideas? How do you pray with your kids?