Praying With Children —

Praying with children in our homes and in our churches is a special gift. It can be joyful and even funny at times. About a year ago, a mom told me about her and her husband’s experience praying with their children. This particular family is from Brazil and they regularly pray around their dinner table in Portuguese. One evening, as they bowed their heads, their four-year-old son spoke up and said, “Wait, I want to pray in English like we do at church.” He had learned the foundations of praying and was excited to pray the way he had learned at church.

No matter how young our children are, they are listening when we pray. They are soaking it up and learning. How we pray with children changes as they get older and grow in their own faith. We pray with them starting at infancy as they sleep in our arms or in their bed, as they cry, as they coo and giggle. As they grow, we pray with them as they take their first steps and when they scrape their knees. From day one, they have heard us pray with them and for them. They’ve heard their names in prayers countless times. Then, they begin to pray with us.

I will never forget the day I heard from my backseat on our way to school, “Mom, can I pray for our day?” Periodically, I had prayed on the way to school for the kids, their teachers, and their friends. That day, we had been running late, and I was in a “rushed mom” state. However, my six-year-old found comfort and hope in praying on the way to school. It calmed me instantly and allowed me to enjoy those few minutes with my children. Praying at the beginning of the day, whether it is a busy hectic day or a calm casual day, changes our perspective and attitudes. We put our faith, hope, and trust in the Lord for that day. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God (Phil. 4:6).

When we pray with children, they sometimes are nervous to pray because they don’t think they’ll say the right thing. Remind them, God wants to hear from us. As a parent, I ask my kids every day, “How was your day?” Sometimes, I already know the answer because I spent the entire day with them on a field trip, traveling, volunteering at school, or hanging out at home. Even in those times when I already know the answer, I still want to hear from my children and listen to them tell me about their day. Here’s the difference, God always knows what is happening in our lives, and yet He still always wants to hear from His children…us.

One way that has helped kids who are reluctant to pray is having them repeat after us. Keep it simple, reminding the kids that praying is more than just asking God for things. Here are four simple samples:

  • Praise Him for who He is.
  • Confess to God our need for Him.
  • Thank Him for all He has done for us.
  • Ask for what we need.

More than once I have had a child volunteer to pray at the beginning of our Sunday school hour and then freeze when they get to the front of the room. Simply bending my knee and whispering in their ear to repeat after me is all they need. Sometimes they will continue to repeat after me and sometimes they will take off on their own.

At times, it can be easy to pray with our kids and at other times, it can feel hard. The important thing is to pray with them. There are some children who are the first ones to volunteer to pray and there are others who avoid eye contact to the point of hiding under their seat in the hopes that you don’t see them. No matter their reluctancy or excitement, meet them where they are and where they are comfortable.

Praying with children is always a blessing and a moment to connect with both them and God. Remember just as much as we love hearing our children talk to us about anything on their minds, God loves listening to us talk to Him so much more.

“I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because He inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call on Him as long as I live.” – Psalm 116:1-2

Resources for praying with children:

  • A Neglected Grace, by Jason Helopoulos
  • What Every Child Should Know About Prayer, by Nancy Guthrie

Tammy Hall serves as the Director of Children’s Ministries at Valley Presbyterian Church in Madison, Alabama. The Lord has given her a heart and desire to partner with parents in the discipleship of their children. She loves to build relationships and minister to the children and parents of Valley. Tammy and her husband, Tim, have been married for almost 25 years and have two boys; Gavin is 15 years old and Porter is 12 years old.