One of the greatest gifts that parents can give their children is to help them learn how to use prayers in their daily life. When children make a habit of praying, they experience the presence of a loving God in their life. Whenever they are fearful or gloomy, they know whom they can call to alleviate their worries. In times of doubt, they learn to seek the wisdom of God to help them carry on their journey in life. So as a parent, how do you inculcate the value and power of prayers to your children?
Be a Prayer Model.
Children learn by modeling, and you can set a good example of how to pray by saying a sincere prayer at many points in the day, such as before dinner and before bedtime. Speak slowly and let your child understand what you are praying for. Be clear on what the prayer is about so your child learns how to use different prayers for a variety of occasions or necessities. It may be about praying for someone who needs God, a financial situation, a conflict, or giving thanks to the blessings you have received.
Teach Different Types of Prayers.
You can simplify the different types of prayers into these five categories.
Say “Thank you” to God for being who He is. Praise Him for his power to help anyone in trouble, especially the whole family. Thank Him for everything He has created and trust His plans for you.
Give thanks to God for the blessings received and for always giving strength to the family. Thank Him for something that He has done for you today. Have your child specify what he is thanking for as a way of counting his blessings. Instead of, “Thank you for my family,” say “Thank you for my mommy who cooked my favorite meal tonight, my daddy for driving me to school every morning …”
3. Request for Others
Request for something but make it as specific as possible, depending on their age. Your child may pray for his friend who is failing a class, or pray for someone who is sick. Try to make the prayer requests new every time, but if there’s an ongoing need, it’s fine to keep praying for the same thing and add other requests too.
Ask your child if he has done something wrong today. He may be reluctant to do so but you can do the confession first to encourage him to speak up. Be specific and let them say what action they did that was wrong. For example, “Forgive me for being noisy today in class and making our teacher mad.”
5. Request for Yourself
This prayer can come last, because the other prayers help get our hearts in line with God. Then you’re in a better place to make your own requests. Your child may request for material things and think of God as Santa Claus. Encourage them to make the prayer more meaningful by praying about how to be a good son, sibling, or friend. Instead of “I want a new computer game”, they may pray for “God, please help me get along with my sister.”
When teaching your children how to pray, it is most important to let them know to treat prayers as if they are talking to God. They can talk to Him in any way and just to be themselves with God. Teach them that prayers can be done anywhere they are, even in the classroom or playground.
Mark 10:14 (NIV) – “Let the children come to me … for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”