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Every Sunday she stared out the window with longing as she watched her next-door neighbors leave all dressed up in their Sunday best for church. She longed for the love, peace, laughter, and stability that the family exuded. And she promised herself that one day when she had a family of her own she would do the same.


Years later, all grown up with three kids of her own, she desperately wonders how to teach her kids to pray when she isn’t comfortable with the practice of praying, herself. She has this vision of three clean little children, all kneeling to pray, but reality overwhelms her like an ice-cold bucket of water.


Her kids are rolling all over the couch, laughing and irritating each other, and prayer seems to have quickly spiraled into a gross-out contest.  After several attempts at praying, which resulted in several children being sent to their room for misbehavior, she is left feeling like a failure.


Here are three steps that you can do today with your kids that that don’t require a seminary degree:


1. Kids Pray: Journey Together

2. Kids Pray: Simply

3. Kids Pray: And Respond

1. Kids Pray: Journey Together 


In our society, we have been taught to believe that as parents, we have to have all the answers.

Our child’s spiritual journey can sometimes feel like we are driving on a busy highway, desperately trying to interpret the Holy Spirit’s directions while our child is sprawled out on the backseat.


Talk about pressure! However, God created children not as people that need to be filled up with facts, but as spiritual beings.


Catherine Stonehouse in her book, Listening to Children On The Spiritual Journey says this, “Often adults have assumed that they could give children their understanding of God by just telling them what God is like… We cannot literally transmit to them what we know. As they are ready, children construct or form their understandings for themselves, with the gracious presence, encouragement, and guidance of God’s Spirit.”


The Holy Spirit does the heavy lifting! Yay! Right now, he is inviting your child into a deeper relationship with Jesus. Our role, as parents, is in accompanying our children on their spiritual journeys. We do that by helping our kids recognize and respond to the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.


One of the most powerful tools at our disposal is our own relationship with Jesus. As you grow in your walk with God, that passion and love for Jesus naturally flow out into every aspect of your life. When your children experience the power of your own authentic relationship with God the longings of their hearts are stirred.


Pat Lynch, in Awakening the Giant, says it this way: “Notice that not once did Jesus make his disciples pray. He just kept on praying until they could contain their hunger no longer and asked Him to teach them how to pray.


You don’t have to have all the answers or get it “right” when it comes to teaching your kids how to pray. Your role is to help your child look out the window and notice all the amazing landmarks along the way.



2. Kids Pray: Simply 


So how do we partner with what the Holy Spirit is doing in the lives of our children? One way is by offering different tools or resources for their journey. Prayer is simply talking with God.  Over time, prayer becomes a way of life, a way of being present to God 24/7.


Jesus walks us through how to pray in Matthew 6:6-13 as he says these powerful words.

Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.”


-Jesus encourages us to find a place where we are free of distractions, where we can be vulnerable, honest, and quiet before God. 


“The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense.”


-He shares with us that God doesn’t play games. That we don’t need to teach our children special language, a specific tone of voice, or posture to be seen as holy or to somehow trick God into answering our prayers.


“This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:”


-Jesus also reminds us that our prayers are received on a foundation that is based on a love relationship with God. 


“Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are. Set the world right; Do what’s best—as above, so below. Keep us alive with three square meals. Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. You’re in charge! You can do anything you want! You’re ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes.”


-Jesus models simply talking with God about your needs, asking for forgiveness, praying for protection, and praising him.


The Lord’s Prayer or Psalm 23 are wonderful tools to teach our kids how to pray. Simply. No flowery language or long prayers needed.


 3. Kids Pray: And Respond

When we teach our kids to pray, the most amazing gift that we can give our kids is the gift of space. I tell my kids that we are creating “elbow room for the Holy Spirit”. We can get so focused on making sure we include prayer in our everyday lives that we forget that prayer is an active, not passive activity.

Silence at the end (or throughout) prayer forces us to slow down, even for a couple of seconds and to listen and respond to God’s voice. We are reminded that prayer is a conversation between us and God, not an endless monologue.

pray for your child
Silence has been a powerful tool in my own life, and in the lives of my children and the students, I have worked with over the years.  The very act of slowing down long enough to hear God’s voice can be used so powerfully by the Holy Spirit. It reminds your child that we serve a talking God, who is very present in our lives. It also encourages children, by helping them move from acquiring more head knowledge about God to an actual experience of God.


So practically, what does this look like?  Here are just some of the ideas to teach your kids how to pray:


  1. Start off by focusing on your own relationship with God. Your desire for Jesus sparks a hunger for him in the lives of your children.


  1. Read and wonder together about the Lord’s prayer or Psalm 23. Use it as your family prayer for a week or more.


  1. Practice the habit of prayer by praying for skinned knees, fights, delightful or beautiful moments, hurt feelings, nightmares, or fears. Focus on including him all throughout the day. These don’t have to be long prayers (we are talking 30 seconds).


  1. At the end of family prayers, start by incorporating 30 seconds of silence. Let your children know what to expect before you pray. For instance, “We are going to spend some time in prayer. Prayer is a conversation between you and God. At the end of your prayer, we are going to be quiet for a little bit and practice listening to God’s voice. I will make sure to close in prayer when the time is up.”


I will leave you with this, as parents, “We are responding to the child’s silent request: ‘Help me come closer to God by myself.” Sofia Cavalletti, Christian Educator



If you want to know how to get started in living a deep life with God; grab our Deeper Life Beginners Guide (below). And join our community of moms who are hungry for more Jesus in their lives and in the lives of their families. 





What about you? What is your #1 issue when it comes to teaching your kids to pray?   Leave a comment, and don’t forget to follow Most Important Work on Pinterest!   


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Alexis is the creator of Most Important Work. She has served on staff for 13 years at a local church as a children’s, youth, and now Family Life Pastor. Alexis is very passionate about helping moms and churches nurture a love of Jesus in their children through creativity, curiosity, and consistency.
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