One mom I know asked me how she could be more creative with her prayers. What did that mean? After more conversation, she admitted that she felt like she was saying the same “good luck chant” every day before her kids went to school. I encouraged her to just speak from her heart, and over time she began to understand what that meant.
I don’t think God expects us to be creative with our prayers. I think He expects us to be transparent, submissive, and utterly honest. When it’s time to pray with your family, sometimes it’s the kids who are reluctant to pray. Sometimes it’s Mom or Dad. Either way, small steps with an encouraging attitude can set your kids on the path to being comfortable in their own (praying) skin.
If at all possible, start praying aloud with your kids when they are babies. By the time they are older, it will be part of your everyday life. My girls have been praying since they could speak. But what if your kids are already older and you don’t know where to start? If you or they are uncomfortable, awkwardness can overwhelm you just enough to make you give up. I know this from working with kids of all ages over the years.
At dinnertime, have everyone in the family go around and have everyone say thank you to God for one thing. Start and set an example like, “Thank you God for my family.” Sometimes reluctant pray-ers feel intimidated and don’t know how to start. This is an easy thing to expand on. Once you’ve done this for a few days and everyone is comfortable with the routine, add a sentence on. By starting with thanksgiving, you are teaching your kids to thank God before presenting requests.
Next, Add a praise
Once you are all comfortable thanking God for things, you can suggest that you each praise God for who He is. Again, start off with an example. I praise you God, for being loving and merciful. And I thank you for my family and this good dinner.
Keep it simple! While you can certainly show an example of more heartfelt prayers at other times of the day, remember this is to encourage reluctant pray-ers. During this group prayer time keeping it simple means your kids will be less intimidated.
Then, add requests
Once you’ve gotten thanksgiving and praise down, start your prayer time and ask if anyone has a request you can pray for. Again, model a simple prayer and go on with your thanks and praises. The next night, ask again for requests and this time ask if anyone else would like to pray for whatever request was given.
This might all seem ridiculously drawn out, but it’s worth it. These tips also work well when it’s the parents who are uncomfortable praying. Learn as a family!
Things to keep in mind:
- Keep a positive and encouraging attitude. Don’t critique prayers!
- Move on to the next step only when everyone is ready.
- Don’t force your kids to perform in front of others. You might be proud that your little prayer warrior is coming along, but wait until you’re sure they’re ready before you put them on the spot to pray at the next family reunion. Better yet, ask them privately first. (I learned this the hard way!)
- Keep it informal. Keep it simple. Keep it real.
- Don’t offer a choice. Instead of saying, “Would you like to go around and thank God for one thing?” Say, “Tonight we’re each going to thank God for one thing. I’ll start and we’ll go around the table.” Then close your eyes and start.
Do you have any tips for prayer time with kids? I’d love to hear them!
photo from photoxpress