Raising Praying Kids
Kids can have the most honest and sincere prayer requests.
Some of funny…Lord, please help my brother to stop wetting the bed…because I share a bed with him.
Some are more serious…Lord, please help my daddy to stop coming home drunk.
As a mom, I want to teach my son how to pray. And not just at meal times and bed times, although those important times. But I want to equip my son to live a praying life. I want to teach him how to have a powerful prayer life.
So, what’s my role? Well, first, it’s NOT the church’s role to teach my son how to pray. The church may help, but they only have access to my son for about 3 hours each week. It’s MY role and responsibility to train my son how to pray.
In our day and time, we have to have a warship mentality versus a cruise ship mentally when raising our kids. Christianity is a war ship, not a cruise ship. But often in the church (globally) we are raising our kids to have a cruise ship mentality. On the cruise ship, I’m here to be entertained. On a war ship, I’m here to fight. I’m fighting against the culture and the enemy of our souls. On a cruise ship, I look to the captain as the entertainment director. On a war ship, I look to God the captain as the general of the army. It’s a different mindset. The cruise ship docks during war time while the battleship sails during war time. When we abdicate our roles as parents who are raising children who can engage the culture and be thriving and vibrant in their spiritual walk, we are creating this cruise ship mentality and we can never fulfill the Great Commission with that kind of perspective.
Maybe we haven’t modeled the best prayer life for our kids. We’ve messed up. So what do we do? We ask God for forgiveness and ask God for forgiveness and then we learn how to pray with our kids. Children don’t want perfect parents; they want real, authentic parents. Likewise, parents don’t want perfect children; they want real, authentic children. When children stumble when they pray, we don’t correct them. We learn together. Don’t make fun of their prayers for their favorite cartoon characters. We congratulate them on any progress they make.
Developing your prayer life is like developing muscles. It takes time. You start off slow and take baby steps. Over time, through maturity, they will develop amazing praying muscles.
Remember: parents stand tallest before their children when their on their knees.
There are three things parents can do to establish the habit of a vibrant prayer life for your children: the place to pray, the time to pray, and the agenda to pray. First, show them how to have a private place to pray. This doesn’t have to be a special chair. Look at Susanna Wesley…she would flip her apron over her head so her children (John and Charles are included in her 19 children) knew she was praying and not to interrupt her. Second, set a formalized time of prayer. Maybe before school for five minutes or when they come home before they start homework or sometime when it’s a formal meeting with God. This shows the how important the discipline of prayer is. The amount of time is based on their age. It maybe quick like the Lord’s Prayer when you’re first starting. Then you branch out and pray for specific things like Mom and Dad. Third, set an agenda of prayer. An agenda is specific topics that are important to us and to others. When it comes the agenda of prayer, there are practical ways to make prayer engaging based on the age of the child. For example, one day your child can start with the tallest person in the family and pray for each person down to the shortest. Then next day, they can start with the shortest and work their way up to the tallest.
Using the Five Fingers Of Prayer can also be a great strategy. The thumb represents those who are closest to us. Are they hurting? Are they having a tough time? Pray for them. The pointing finger is for someone in our lives who gives us instruction, such as a teacher or a coach or a Sunday school teacher. Pray for that individual. The middle finger is for someone who takes a leadership role in our life. Pray for the president of the parents’ workplace, the principal at the school, the pastor at church, the president of the country. The ring finger stands for a family member. The pinky means you pray for someone who is close to you, like a good friend or a buddy or someone else in your life that you’re concerned about. When you go through this five-finger method, your child can hold their fingers up and they wiggle them and make it fun and engaging. You make it enjoyable and you go through this every day. We need to engage our children in ways they can understand. As they mature and grow, we can pull away these “silly” methods and go onto larger methods like using a prayer journal as a way to connect with prayer and styles of prayer. But the five-finger method opens our kids up the style, habit, and discipline of prayer.
There is POWER in teaching our kids how to prayer and to have a disciplined prayer life. It will have an impact on them, on you, and on the world around them. It will help them to develop of love of prayer in your kids.