Prayer is one of the cornerstones of the Christian beliefs. It allows us to share time with God, hear from Him, and to express to Him where we are in life. A prayer can hold vigil for a loved one who is suffering, a cry of hope for a friend who feels lost, and a way to find God amongst the messiness of life. As adults it can be hard to put into words how best to pray, which will make it that much harder to relay to a child. Below we hope you will be encouraged in ways you can help your child pray.
Monkey see, monkey do, right? Modeling how to pray is very important for your child. Many people are visual learners and for those that are, it is a priceless example. First, show them that finding a quiet place helps with hearing from God and being able to best express how you are feeling to God. Show them how to quiet their minds and hearts. Instruct them to get comfortable by sitting or kneeling. You can guide them in some simple steps for how to talk to God by using CHAT. Confession, Honor, Ask and Thanks. These are important high lights to hit. To confess anything on our hearts that may be making it heavy; Honor Him by declaring how great He is; Ask if there is something you need help within your heart, mind, body, or environment, and then thank Him for His greatness, glory and faithfulness. It is important that at some point we develop these helpful habits, so it is better to start young. These words are a jumping off point to our deepest thoughts and desires. Things start to surface that maybe we could reflect on and change. This allows time for God to remind us of His promises and His love for us. Something that is beginning to lose ground, but I think is important is bowing your head and closing your eyes. If your head is bowed, at least if your eyes pop open for a second you won’t get distracted by the things that you see. The more we train ourselves with this posture, the easier it is to commit to. If you find it hard to quiet your mind, take a few minutes to prep by listening to some praise and worship music. This takes your mind and focuses it on Him, preparing your mind to focus on Him in prayer. Remind the child not to get caught up in saying the “perfect words”, that talking to God is just like having a regular conversation. Teach them “how to” not “what to” pray. It’s important to let their hearts speak to God, not just a checklist of things to pray for. These are all great ways to pray and practice some simple steps to help if you are unsure of what to say.
When to say it, when to go to God is something that many people vary on. Not many are consistent with prayers to God, and so we need to explore a little of when to pray. Some people only pray at meals. This IS an important time to pray, to take time to thank Him for your day and His provisions. Also, when we are sick and hurting is an important time to pray too! God hears our cries for comfort and relief! It’s vital to not develop a habit of only praying when you need something or are in a desperate situation. God seeks to be with us every minute of each day, just let Him in! When you are proud of an accomplishment, when the teacher or boss gives you kudos, when you are overtaken by the beauty you see, these are all times to take a second, seek God, thank Him for the things He has done. He has never left your side and knows every spoken and unspoken need and desire. Teach them to take a moment out of their day when they are free to stop and pray. They can meditate on God and see how He transforms the rest of their day!
Why is prayer so important? It can take a day that feels hopeless and pave a way to a solution. It allows you to take the bottled-up things you hide and bare all of yourself to someone who won’t walk away. It is an opportunity to allow God to love on you, to feel just a fraction of His care for you. It can start the day off right, in His presence which helps to elevate your day. It often happens that if you start your day with God, things will come and go but our patience and joy increase substantially.
All of this to say, it’s important to pray. It is important to teach our children the value of prayer and how to go to God. Take a moment today to let Him know how much you love Him and take a moment to teach a child how to do the same. The value in prayer is that the power resides within us, we just have to unlock it! We can teach a child that anytime is a good prayer time, and that God is always there to listen!