“Momma, momma, huwwy! We need to pway!” My toddler ran to me the very moment he heard the siren from a fire truck speeding past our house down the nearby highway. I scooped my little guy into my arms and held him close. Together, we talked to Jesus, asking for help and protection on behalf of the people who may be hurting or in danger.
Just as my husband and I sought to teach our children that prayer can and should be our first response in every situation, you, too, can lead your growing children to pray, helping them see the need for it and the power of God in and through it. You can remind them that their loving heavenly Father’s eyes are always upon them, and that He hears and answers every prayer. They can draw near to His throne of grace with confidence (Hebrews 4:16) because of Christ’s sacrifice for them at the cross!
Here are 12 ideas to help you along the way:
- From your children’s earliest toddler years, you can teach them to stop and pray for others when they hear sirens or when they witness any other potentially scary situation.
- Encourage your growing child, and praise her for her humble words given to God in prayer. No matter how long or short her prayer, it is a beautiful offering to Him.
- Teach your child how he can “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), offering pop-up prayers in the middle of the day and developing an attitude of constant prayer and dependence on God.
- Pray for and with your child on the spot as a crisis or need arrives: when she walks through the door in tears, when you learn of another family’s illness or accident, or when another person suddenly comes to mind.
- Develop a prayer habit for your family at regular times in your daily routine, such as mealtime, devotion time, and bedtime, if possible.
- Sing the doxology or a table prayer set to music, and encourage your children to sing with no inhibitions as they offer praise and thanks to the Lord.
- Pray with them about big and small things, revealing that it all matters to God. He is a God of details and desires that we bring them all to Him.
- Encourage your children to be honest and forthright in their prayers. God knows every hair on their heads, so He surely knows everything on their hearts. They can pray about anything, even those things that they can’t talk to you about.
- Tell your child that however his heavenly Father answers his prayers—yes, no, or wait—he can expect God to change and grow him as a result of his prayers.
- Present your child with a journal, and encourage her to record her prayers and others’ prayer requests. Encourage her to look back to her past journal entries, recognizing God’s provision and answers along the way.
- Model prayer as you teach it to your precious children. Pray openly and honestly. Let them hear you confess your sins and praise your Savior. Let them listen as you thank Him for the many blessings of the day and as you hold them up in prayer.
- Pray the Scriptures for and with your children, inserting their names into them. Here’s a great place to start: “It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you [ child’s name ] may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9–11).