Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
~ Colossians 4:2
Prayer isn’t just important, it’s vital. Our day should begin, end, continue in, overflow with, and be steeped in prayer. As parents, and homeschoolers, it is just as essential to teach our children the beauty of constant communication with God.
Being with our children a great deal of the time, we have so many wonderful opportunities to encourage our children in prayer. By not only praying with them, but teaching them how to pray, we help remove any fear over praying in groups or praying out loud. We teach them the true meaning and value of prayer itself.
How now do we pray?
Constantly – Prayer should not be constrained to mealtimes, during ‘Bible’ time, or before bed. We need to be in prayer at all times, lifting even the smallest things before the Lord. We pray if our children get hurt, if we’re having a hard morning, if we’re trying to make wise decisions, if we’re feeling emotional, if we’re rejoicing over a blessing, and so much more. Prayer is a constant.
Artfully or Authentically? – We need to teach our children to use their own words, and not to obsess over choosing the ‘right words’ to pray. God is interested in our hearts (which He already sees, nothing is hidden from Him). He doesn’t need fancy words, just a humble heart. Now, if you happen to have an extensive vocabulary and using lovely words is natural for you, that’s wonderful! However, children need to understand this is not essential to prayer. God loves to hear even the most simple of words from His children.
Honestly – Sometimes children believe they need to hide what they truly feel; what a great moment to clarify this with our children. (For example: “I’m Angry!” or “I’m Hurt!”) These thoughts are okay to express in prayer and should be allowed. God already knows what they’re feeling, why shouldn’t we be open and honest about it before Christ. What a wonderful opportunity to give our feelings over to the Lord and ask Him to remove them.
Formula vs. From the Heart – There is no right or wrong prayer; no formula by which we are required to pray. There are times all we can pray is “HELP!” God is not looking for a rote prayer, said only from tradition, but honest communication from our hearts. Does this mean repeating a particular prayer over and over is wrong? Not if our heart is truly in it!
Prayer can be intimidating for some, especially young children. It might help to start off with a few guidelines in mind, just to help get them going. A few great examples might be to use ACTS or to use Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13).
- Acknowledge all the Lord is doing and how wonderful He is.
- Confess your sins and ask the Lord to forgive you.
- Thank the Lord for all He is doing in your life.
- Supplication. Ask the Lord to meet your need.
Again, we do not demand our children use these guidelines within every prayer. The act of prayer should come from our heart and be humble communication with Christ. However, especially with young children, it helps to give them a few ideas on what they could pray for and offer helpful suggestions until they feel more comfortable with open prayer.
No matter how we choose to instill the habit of prayer in our children, may I encourage each of us to take this seriously. There is nothing more important we could be teaching our children than to walk justly with God.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
~ Matthew 6:9-13
Time to Chime In: How do you encourage your children to pray?