Teaching Kids to Pray


Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. Jeremiah 29:12




Rote Prayer:

 Now I lay me down to sleep,                                                                                          I pray the Lord my soul to keep.                                                                                      If I should die before I wake,                                                                                          I pray the Lord my soul to take.                                                                                      God bless Mommy, Daddy, Sue, Steve, Becky, Ginny, Beth, and Jason. Amen

As children, my Mom prayed this prayer with us every night.

At dinner, our grace went like this:

God is great, great is good and we thank Him for this food. Amen.

The faster we said it, the sooner we could eat. Rote prayers. Every day.

As I look back at my own family’s prayers, I can see that I had no idea what it meant that “God is good” or “God is great.” And, I was even more unclear on, “if I should die before I wake.”

As a child, it never occurred to me to ask questions, though  I did often wonder if I would die overnight. I had little or no understanding of Christ, the gift of salvation, judgment, or the goodness of God.

These rote prayers and Sunday School attendance were our only “spiritual” instruction.

Model Prayer 

As an adult, a Christian friend said she taught her children to think about their day and thank God for the things He had provided for them, for the joys He had given, and for the relationships with friends or family they had experienced during the day.

I learned too late in life to teach my children to pray but I am praying for the next generation (mine and every other Christian’s) to have a better understanding. There are things Christian parents can do to teach their children to pray.

  • Be thankful to God, and be willing to say so aloud, in prayer, in front of our children. Express thanksgiving for answered prayers, the joy He brings to your family, and the gifts you have because He has provided for you and your family.
  • Sit down for a family meal and thank God together, taking turns so each one gets to think about how good God was on his/her day to pray.
  • Be thankful for Christ and the forgiveness of sin because of His sacrifice. This points to the fact that we are all sinners, and in need of Christ’s atoning work.
  • Confess and apologize when we are wrong to (or in front of) our children. If we aren’t perfect, they will see they aren’t either.
  • Call sin, sin. It is not a mistake. It is not an accident. It is something we all do that grieves God.
  • Model forgiveness.
  • Point out the goodness of God, His mercy, and forgiveness when there is repentance.
  • Call blessings a blessing from God.
  • Be intentional. Teach kids about God’s love, His law, His justice, and His grace.

When you and I pray, do our children hear rote (meaningless) prayers that teach them nothing of God’s greatness and goodness? Or, do they hear sincere gratitude and understanding of the Great God to whom we pray?

It is just as important to know the One we pray to, as it is to know what to pray to Him about.