Teach Me to Pray!
Prayer is communication with God. It is an essential element in the life of a Christian; an indicator of the depth of relationship with our Creator. The disciples’ desire to deepen their relationship with Jesus was apparent when they asked Jesus, “Teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). They had watched daily as Jesus spoke to the Father. They longed to develop the same intimate relationship with the Creator that Christ had with God. Jesus presented them with a model that we call “The Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:5-13; Luke 11:1-13).
Why do children need to learn how to pray?
- God desires relationship with children. Children develop relationship with God through prayer.
- Prayer helps children experience the realness of God.
- When children experience the results of prayer, their trust in God grows.
- Child-like faith gets God’s attention.
- Prayer helps children recognize God’s works.
- Developing a lifestyle of consistent prayer at an early age will enable children to become less inhibited “prayers” as adults.
- Prayer teaches children how to be honest with God.
“If children learn how to pray when they are very young, the chances that they will develop a good, strong lifestyle of regular prayer will be much better than if they are not taught to pray until they are older.” Kim Butts, Teaching Children to Pray.
How do we teach children to pray?
- Teach them by being an example. Children are watching when adults speak to God. The cliché, “Actions speak louder than words” is especially true when teaching children how to pray. Children’s ministers who model an effective and consistent prayer life provide children with the examples they need to develop their own personal lives of prayer.
- Keep prayer language simple. Children are listening when adults speak to God. Using simple, understandable words in our prayers help children learn that prayer is not just for adults. They will comprehend that prayer is personal, and that God will listen even when they don’t use the same “big” words adults sometimes use.
- Use Christ’s model. Matthew 6 presents Christ’s model for prayer. Children should be told that Christ provided this as an example for prayer. Each section of the prayer can be discussed to help children understand the elements of prayer.
- Use a conversational model. Show children that we can talk to God just like we talk to one another. Use a telephone to show children how to have a conversation with God.
- Teach children a prayer pattern they can follow rather than memorizing written prayers. In the book Let Prayer Change Your Life, by Becky Tirabassi, a model for prayer is presented based on the acronym P.A.R.T.:
- P – Praise
- A – Admit
- R – Request
- T – Thanks
- Pray freely. Children need to learn that the patterns are simply examples to help them develop a prayer lifestyle. They should learn that it is absolutely desirable for them to have the liberty to express themselves freely to God in prayer. Tell children that we can pray at any time and in any position. We can use any words that express our love for God, our sorrow for sins, our needs, the needs of others, and our thanks for His work in our lives. In Matthew 6:5-8, Jesus clearly states the Father’s desire that prayer is a personal conversation with Him.
- Teach children that prayer also involves listening. Conversations occur when two people speak to each other. It is important that we teach children to listen carefully so that they can recognize God’s voice speaking to them. God will speak to our children through His word (the Bible), through His Holy Spirit, and through Spirit-filled people. The children must learn that when they pray God may bring scriptures to their minds…this is God speaking. The Holy Spirit may give them thoughts…this is God speaking. Spirit-filled people may minister to, encourage, or guide the children…this is God speaking.
Ideas You Can Use!
Questions About Prayer
If you are working with older children, introduce a study of prayer by asking them to share their unanswered questions about prayer. Write each question on a chart. Make these questions a part of each lesson on prayer. To involve the students, ask them to form teams of two or three. Each team selects a prayer question and searches out an answer. The answer should be supported by a Bible verse. Each week a team may share their answer to one of the prayer questions.
Pray the Scripture
The book of Psalms offers many verses that can be used as prayers of praise to God. For example, Psalm 8:1 (NKJV) offers this praise prayer: “O Lord, our Lord. How excellent is Your name in all the heavens.” (Adapted from PrayKids! Magazine, Vol. 1, No. 1, Copyright 2000 The Navigators.)
Ask the children to pray aloud with you. Speak the prayer in short phrases and ask children to repeat each phrase after you.
Invite the children to share their requests for prayer and write each request on a chart. Write ALL requests no matter how “silly” they may seem. Remember a “silly” request is very important to a child. Lead the children in prayer by encouraging them to read and speak each request to God.
Give children a notebook with a page for each day of the week. Divide each page into four sections. Label each section with a letter of the P.A.R.T. pattern. Children should write their praises in the “P” section, confessions in the “A – Admit” section, requests in the “R” section, and thanks in the “T” section. After writing, children should speak the prayer they have written. Remind the children to place a date at the top of the page. Encourage them to review the prayers at the end of each week, month, and year and record when and how specific requests were answered by God.
The Lord’s Prayer in Body Language
To help the children remember the sections of the Lord’s prayer and use it in their personal prayer times, let them work together to develop a body posture or movement for each section. For example, the posture for the phrase “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name” could be head bowed and hands folded.
Teaching Them to Be Intercessors
To intercede means to plead on another’s behalf. When children pray intercessory prayers, they lay aside their own needs and focus on the needs of others. Teach intercessory prayer by-
- Introducing children to intercessors in the Bible such as Abraham who interceded for Lot.
- Open their minds to the needs of others.
- A world map displayed in the room. The world map can be used to help the children focus on prayers for nations who are experiencing natural disasters, war, economic problems, famine, etc.
- Photos of missionaries supported by your local congregation.
- Specific needs of individuals the children know.
- Challenge them to pray “flash” prayers. When a child sees someone in need on the street or in a public place, he can quickly say a prayers to God on behalf of that person. For example, if the child passes someone who seems to be very tired, the child can pray, “Dear Jesus, that woman looks very ties. Please give her body rest.”
- Ask them to select a prayer partner and commit to praying for their partner’s needs everyday.
Teaching Your Child How to Pray by Rick Osborne. Available from Amazon.
Ignite your child’s heart to pray with the practical suggestions in this book. It offers great suggestions on how to teach prayer to your kids in a way they can understand and inspires parents to become prayer mentors for their children. It’s a great way to pass on your faith to your family.
PrayKids! The mission of this quarterly magazine is “to encourage a passion for Christ through prayer” in 8 to 12-yr-olds. Each issue includes a theme, a prayer story, a bible-based story, a lesson on praying scripture, a missions focus, and much more. Must be ordered in multiples of ten.
Published by The Navigators
3820 N. 30th St.,
Colorado Springs, CO 80904.
Originally printed as the Volume 5, Issue 11 of the CM Newsletter, November 2001, Contributing Editor: Michael Lawson