In Matthew’s Gospel, he records Jesus teaching his disciples how to pray (Matthew 6:7-13) using contrasts. Instead of praying repetitious and memorized phrases, he teaches them to pray from the heart. He says, “Pray like this:” And then he teaches them the Lord’s Prayer, or the Model Prayer.
When you teach your children to pray, invite them to pray with you. Give them the opportunity to hear you pray from your heart. Here are five prayer principles to help you:
Teach your children to talk with God as though they were talking with you. Be conversational and open with the Father. Take time to listen as God speaks to you.
Pray With A Mature Heart
Children are smart and they hear the things you say. And they remember them! A mature prayer is not one that reflects terse and general prayers like, “bless mom and dad and the kids.” A mature prayer reflects specific and expectant prayers, something like, “Father, will you please help daddy get well from his cold? He feels so bad right now, and we need him to be well.” When children begin praying, they will offer a childlike prayer. But they need to hear you pray a specific prayer from a maturing relationship.
Many families find bedtime to work well for prayer time. Others pray at breakfast or supper. Whatever time you choose for your family prayer time, be consistent. Guard and protect your prayer time. Remember, you are teaching your children to build a relationship with the Creator of the universe! A growing and maturing relationship cannot be built without heartfelt communication. It’s up to you to be consistent.
If you find your child repeating the same prayer over and over, teach them how to pray God’s Word back to Him. Choose a Psalm of praise or prayer and read it aloud as your prayer.
Stop And Drop
Another teaching time with prayer is what I call the “stop and drop” prayer. In other words, when someone asks you pray for them, stop and drop (literally or figuratively) and pray right then and there. Don’t wait until later. If something is so important that your friend asks you to pray, then pray now if possible. Let your child experience this and be a part of it. This teaches your child that God hears and responds to prayer, and that you are praying like you mean it.
Teach them to spend time alone with God. As they grow older into the teen years, encourage them to develop their own private prayer life. But don’t abandon the family prayer time, even if it is a brief time around the table or in the family room once per week.
What can your share about teaching your children to pray?