Are you looking for creative ways to encourage your kids to pray? Here are some ideas that worked for other parents:
Extra! Extra! Pray All About It!
To help older children pray for what's happening in the world, we discuss one or two news stories a week and pray for the leaders who must respond. We ask God to bless those in power and guide them as they make these important decisions.
Every month, each member of our family secretly prayed for a friend, neighbor or relative. We wrote the names of these people on the bottom of our calendar. I added daily checkboxes for each of us to mark when we prayed for them. Not only did my children want to check off the boxes, but they also wanted everyone to succeed, so they would give reminders and offer to pray with another family member.
Praying an Adverb
My 9-year-old son didn't like to sit at his desk and study for a concentrated period of time. So I suggested he ask God for help with his schoolwork. Since he was studying grammar, I told him to pray using an adverb, tying the concept to what he was learning.
He knew what I meant. He prayed, "Help me to do my work willingly and calmly." This strategy helped him whenever he needed to focus on a task.
Maps & Snacks
I spread out a U.S. map during snack time and piled small treats, such as mini marshmallows, chocolate chips or blueberries, around a state. As my kids munched, I told them the name of the state, some general information and the names of its key leaders such as the governor and senators. Then we prayed for those leaders and the people who lived in that state.
At Your Fingertips
I wanted to help my preschool-aged boys learn how to pray for the leaders of our country, so I taught them to use five fingers to remember specific prayer items.
Thumb: Pray for our country.
Pointer: Pray for our nation's government.
long finger: Pray for our president and vice-president.
Ring finger: Pray for those who serve in our military.
Pinkie: Pray for local community leaders.
My young children pray best when I ask each of them to say a short prayer while we sit in a circle. I assign each a specific request, such as “Pray for the president” or “Pray for our police department.” Being around others and having something specific to pray about has developed some amazing prayers.
Praying for the Three P’s
On the wall in my Sunday school class, I displayed images of the president, our pastor and parents of children in the class. Each week, we offer short prayers for those in leadership over them.
Starting the Day Right
A friend told me that when her daughter was younger she used the time in the school drop-off line to pray with her about the day ahead. It was a great parenting tip!
Now my young daughter and I spend our mornings praying together as we wait in line. It has become a treasured time to speak blessings into my daughter's life and model daily prayer. If I forget to do this, my daughter immediately reminds me. "We have to pray," she says. "It's my favorite part of the day."
Using a school list, we write the names of our kids' teachers and classmates on separate note cards. Every night we draw a name and pray together for that person. We also pray that our kids will find a way to encourage that person the next day at school. If they are successful, they tell us what they did that night at dinner.
I help my child cut out photos or draw pictures of people she is praying for. Then she attaches them to a calendar in her bedroom. At bedtime, she looks at the calendar to be reminded of prayer needs.
Bark for Prayer
We never expected that adding a puppy to our family of eight would introduce an active way to pray. Now as we walk our dog each day, we often encounter other dogs, and whenever we do, we say a prayer for the dog owners. Our "bark-for-prayer" walks have given us a new way to connect with God and our neighbors.
Praying for Kids Around the World
November, the Christian community is called to remember and pray for the persecuted church. Yet it can be tough for children to grasp how difficult it is for some kids outside North America to profess their faith in Jesus. Consider these tools to help broaden their understanding:
Make it personal. Most children know of a bully in their school. Ask them to imagine what it would be like to be picked on by a bully because they love Jesus. What would they do? Would they have the courage to continue saying they love Jesus? What would help them be courageous?
Learn about others. Visit kidsofcourage.com and read the stories of children who have taken a stand for their faith. Then pray together for each child.
Reach out. If your church supports missionaries in foreign lands, choose a family and write notes of encouragement to them, affirming what they do, and commit to pray for them.
—Elsa Kok Colopy
Praying for Leaders
Political chatter is unavoidable during election years, even for kids. I wanted to teach my kids the importance of respecting and praying for all our leaders, so I gathered pencils, paper and a mason jar. As a family, we listed all the leaders we could think of — from teachers and coaches to presidents and queens. Once a week at dinner, we draw a name from the jar and talk briefly about that person's responsibilities. Then we ask God to give him or her wisdom to lead in ways that please Him. We don't have to agree with every leader's decisions, but the process reminds us to respect, and speak respectfully about, those in authority.
Train Your Child to Pray
My children enjoy praying — for new bicycles, good grades and vacations at Disneyland Resort. While I'm sure Christ delights in their heartfelt requests, I believe helping kids develop a broader prayer perspective is an important aspect of spiritual training. In hopes of fostering growth in this area, my family and I started praying regularly for our extended family members, using these child-friendly ideas:
Calendar connections. Create a yearlong calendar on your computer. List at least one family member's name or insert his photo on a given day of the week. Hang the calendar somewhere you and your children will be sure to see it, and pray together for that person on the specified dates.
Prayer pals. Draw names from a hat or assign each person a partner. On a regular basis, the prayer pals exchange letters or e-mails and make note of one another's prayer needs. Remember to include young children by encouraging them to voice their prayer needs while you transcribe their requests.
Texting tree. Using a contemporary twist on the old telephone tree, consider communicating prayer needs by texting.Send a text to your distribution list, and within seconds, the entire family receives your request.
Traveling prayer journal. While Facebook might enable you to communicate prayer requests with a few keystrokes, consider creating a prayer journal that could become a more permanent log of your family's prayer needs. First, list the addresses of your extended family. Then, modify a blank journal or notebook by inserting tab dividers every few pages, one tab for each family or individual on your list. While spending time with your spouse and kids, record your family's prayer requests in the first section and label the tab with your names. Send the journal to the first person or family on the list. Those relatives will know how to best pray for you and, in turn, can include any of their prayer needs before sending the log to the next family. Also make a note of answered prayers.