Inviting Children Into Prayer

Prayer. One word that encompasses many opportunities for those who are in Christ. It’s an action, a command, our part in a relationship with our Savior,  and a calling we, both as parents and as adults within the covenant family, are responsible to bring our children into. Where do we even begin? We recount the events from Mark 10:13-16. Chances are that if you have been called to children’s ministry in your own church, you have read this account numerous times, finding solace and hope and encouragement to keep on serving in this particular ministry.

Some of the adults were there to test Jesus, to trip Him up about all kinds of things. Then there were parents and families crowding around, wanting Jesus to just touch their child. They had likely heard of His healing the lame and blind, speaking with authority truths about God. I can only imagine, parents wanting to throw their children in front of this One, sent from God Himself. As a mom to three little boys myself, I can honestly say I would be star-struck, I would not know what to do, coming face to face with the man whose name and actions and words were on everyone’s lips.

Suddenly, His disciples shut it down. They shooed the children away. “Jesus is too busy!” Rebuke. Sharp disapproval. Criticism. I imagine what their faces must have looked like in their frustration and impatience. Were they red, furrowed brows, hands up, firm, loud voices? Another wave of strong emotions come to me, again, thinking as a momma.

But then, Jesus saw them. The ESV Bible says He was indignant, showing anger due to injustice. He speaks spoke to His disciples and commanded that they “Let the little children come to Me; do not hinder them (v. 14).” He went on to tell them that the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Verse 15 tells us that unless we, too, receive the kingdom of God like a child, we will not enter it. After saying this, Jesus took the children in His arms, and He blessed them.

What a surge of momma feelings I get reading Mark 10:16. Jesus was not too busy for the children. In fact, He rebuked the ones who believed this. Not only did He command that the children be let into His presence, but He blessed them. How have I, like the disciples in my own busyness, subconsciously decided Jesus is too busy to care about the little things—my children included. I wonder how often I have prayed more simply or have not taken the time to pray with and for and over my sons, situations, and in thanksgiving, during hard moments, and countless others. In Romans 12, verse 12 reminds us to “rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

How can we merge these scriptures from Mark and Romans together and apply them to prayer within our homes, throughout our ministries? It sounds trite to say something like, “just do it,” but the reality is that we must start somewhere. The following ideas are shared as a fellow sinner saved by grace, who has zero of her ducks in a row, but with her eyes firmly fixed on her Savior, constantly grateful for His mercy and kindness and Spirit whose leading is a treasure to her soul.

  • In our family, we have begun to pray out loud for hard things, good things, and everything in between. I want my sons to learn that Jesus is not too busy for their quarrels over simple things like who gets the “coolest” Hot Wheels car to race on the track, just as He is not too busy to be praised for the weather clearing on a treacherous drive. Jesus is not too busy to hear our prayers, and further, we are commanded to pray without ceasing, especially when we feel anxious or the cares of this life feel too heavy for us to bear on our own (1 Thess. 5:16-17, Phil. 4:6-7).
  • In our children’s ministry this past school year, we have been intentionally making time for prayer. If time allows, we take prayer requests from each student. Nothing is too small or insignificant to pray over. If a child wants to pray over their loose tooth, when the teacher prays out loud, she might say something like, “Lord, we thank you so much that our friend Jude is here today. We pray for his loose tooth and that he would not be anxious in the waiting for it to fall out. We pray that he would find comfort in You as he waits patiently, and that You would keep him from pain during the process of his adult tooth coming in. Grant Jude listening ears to hear Your Word today, plant it deep within his heart that he may come back to it time and time again. Amen.” As a child, to hear a trusted adult pray over your cares, pray for your heart, and pray that the Lord would be close to you is such a powerful thing. By the end of the year, the children are asking to pray for one another. It may be as simple as reading the requests from the white board, sort of monotone, but they are learning to pray for one another.
  • Talk to your Session about children and families participating in Prayer Meetings. Just as in your family, there might be things that we don’t want to give our children to bear. I think of Corrie ten Boom’s illustration from her father regarding carrying a heavy suitcase for her because she is not yet able to bear it on her own. Likewise, we want to disciple our children and teach them to pray but with respect to their age and development. How sweet for our children to pray over a newborn baby in the NICU, then singing praise to God when that baby gets to go home! How wonderful to invite children to pray for the new pastor of the church after a yearlong search, then to meet the man whom God has chosen to preach and teach and to shepherd this church! What a blessing for a child to hear the Elders and adults pray over the boiler, ministries, new roof, sick congregants, prayers for mercy or healing or help! What could hearing such prayers lead them to pray for? How could inviting them to pray alongside us potentially shape the next generation of believers, church leadership, and more? Let us not be too busy to bring our children with us to the feet of Jesus in prayer!


  • Pray With Me by Erica Renaud
  • God I Need to Talk to You About…(various titles) by Susan K. Leigh and Dan Carr
  • Prayers of a Parent…(various titles) by Kathleen Nielson
  • Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever [particularly the point made in chapter 6: A Biblical Understanding of the Practice of Prayer]
Brigitte Bailey lives in Southeastern Michigan with her husband and their three sons. They enjoy homeschooling, have two malamute dogs, and are nature lovers! She currently oversees Children’s Ministry for children in Kindergarten through fifth grade at her church. Her passion is to make the Word of God accessible to each member of the family by encouraging parents and the covenant family to come alongside each child for the glory of God! Psalm 30 has been her anthem as she battles chronic illness, hoping to encourage others to look to Christ, through Whom we can do all things, along the way!