getting kids to pray

We have not always been the best at praying with our kids.  I know we’re very bad parents.  Aaron and I have never been big on praying before we eat our meals.  It seems so forced and we’ve kinda avoided it during our married life.  BUT now that we have kids I want them to see us praying more often.  I also want to have them praying more.  I also want them to see an ongoing conversation with God that we are able to have.  Praying with them at night is a good thing and I LOVE this time together.

So, all that to say we’ve been praying more around here.  We pray before our meals and just recently quit asking WHO would like to pray and instead just TELLING someone to pray.  That makes all the difference in the world.  We’ve been talking lots about how God hears us all the time and is ready to listen whenever we want to talk.

I have one child that wants to pray and one that hates it. Deacon says the sweetest prayers that could melt your heart.  He’s a heart breaker and his prayers are no different!  My favorite line that he prays all the time is “God thank you for letting us be thankful”.  Oh my goodness I smile every single time he says that.  It also never fails that when Aaron’s out of town he prays that God helps daddy to not fall off the stage.  🙂  How cute!  I don’t think Aaron’s ever fallen off the stage, and it could be merely by the prayers of his 3 year old!

Cayden does not like to pray.  He never wants to.  He just goes through the motions.  He acts like he doesn’t know what to thank God for.  It DRIVES ME INSANE.  On one hand I want to scream that he can’t think of anything to be thankful for, but on the other hand I don’t want to scar him for life with making him pray when he doesn’t want to.

I had an idea the other day and so far it is working fabulous for our kids and especially the one that doesn’t enjoy prayer time.  I got an index card box and some index cards and I wrote on them people we would like to pray for.  I have added family members, friends that are adopting, missionaries, the kids teachers and our church.  We’ll continue to add stuff to the box as things arise.  This is awesome for us and for me as well.  It keeps these requests close to our hearts and keeps them rotating often.  It also allows me to tell someone that YES we’ll pray for you and truly mean it.  We may not pray every night for that person, but at least a few times a month their name will pass through our prayer nights!

Each night the kids pick a card from the front of the box and that’s their card to pray for that night.  It gets them excited and they can’t wait to see what card they are going to get.  I hope that this doesn’t wear off or become boring.  Until then this is our new system and a few days into it the kids are loving it and it’s going well.  This has helped Cayden and given him some direction during our prayer times at night.

Any other ideas you have for cultivating a love for prayer with your kids?

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9 responses to “getting kids to pray

  1. prayers4bfamily

    Sometimes nighttime prayers become a stall tactic with our 4yo son, Will. He has such sweet little prayers, but sometimes it’s just, “And thank you for my fan…and my clock…and my ummm… red walls…and…” You get the idea. I read somewhere to say one thing you are thankful for, one thing you are sorry for, and one thing you want God to help you with. We started doing that together, and he loves it. He’ll ask to pray that way in fact. So I usually start. I love for him to hear me repent. In fact, tonight, I told God I was sorry for my bad attitude, and Will said, “But you didn’t have a bad attitude, Mommy!” It was a great teaching time about how even Mommy gets frustrated and needs God to help me have a good attitude. When it was his turn, he thanked God for his trains, his mommy, daddy, and “baby brother,” and various other family members. Then he said, “I’m sorry for not taking a nap today. Please help me have a good day tomorrow. Help me not get frustrated. Help me have a good attitude and not a bad attitude. Amen.” I love to hear that come from his mouth.

    Love the index card idea!

  2. I kid you not, I just wrote down this idea on a scrap of paper during the sermon tonight at church (shame on me! I often drift off on tangents that way.) I’m thinking about having the kids decorate the cards with rubber stamping or something so they feel like they’ve contributed to the project. I also love the idea that the other commenter left. I’ve tried it with the kids, although not as consistently as I should. What I’ve discovered is that my kids really need work on repentance, lol! They often can’t think of “anything” they need to say sorry for (but I sure can!) It’s always an adventure, isn’t it?

  3. What I was trying to say was, GMTA (Great Minds Think Alike), ha!

  4. I love all these ideas! We started the mealtime prayer about 6 months ago. Jafta’s usual prayer is “thanks for everything amen let’s eat’. So yeah, we could use some help, too!

  5. We also have one who loves to pray and one who is more reluctant. Something that is working for us, is to ask the more reluctant one who he would like to help him say the prayer. For a while he had someone help him and then the whole “I’m a Big Boy and can do it by myself!” mentality kicked in and so now often once the question is asked he lets us know he can do it and all the balking stops and he offers beautiful prayers on his own. I like your file box system and may need to incorporate something like that as my boys prayers are more limited to their immediate concerns.

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. I think the box is a great idea!! If it helps any, Jared never seemed to get into the prayers either. He always wanted me to pray though. Maci on the other hand, would pray for her corn, potatoes, the forks that we ate them with and everything else she saw on the table. LONGGGGGG. Sweet though. But…Jared, after listening and participating the least, will pray no matter where he is and no matter who is listening! He spills his heart out to God. So…just keep praying, they are getting it! I wish I had thought of that idea when mine were little!

  7. I don’t have kids yet, but I *love* the box idea.

    I used to have a bulletin board in my room that I would put up pieces of paper with names, events, etc that I wanted to pray for (I always worried I’d forget to pray for someone or something that I’d said I would).

  8. I too hated mealtime prayers for their forced nature. But once Kenson came home, we knew we needed to get that in. So meal time prayers are generally thank you prayers. We haven’t started bedtime prayers yet because he’s so little and everything has been so new to him that we decided to wait but hopefully by the start of summer we’ll be up and going. But I love the idea of a prayer box similar to what you were thinking. I’m planning to start it by just having my husband and myself write down prayers and pulling them out at night out of a big special prayer box. The goal would be that as my kids got older, they would add to the box. I’m reading When Children Pray by Cheri Fuller right now. I haven’t gotten very far in it but something that has struck me already is that prayer should be our first reaction to a problem. I think teaching my kids to pray about problems as they happen is a powerful thing and I hope I’ll be able to do that. I also want to be able to teach my kids to pray a prayer of repentence for misbehavior. (Not in a punitive, wanna punish you and make you feel bad kind of way.) Just using prayer as a part of the teaching/learning process of parenting. Kenson is too little to really “get it” but I have found myself praying that kind of a prayer for him when he misbehaves and I’m feeling like nothing I’m doing is working. It seem slike I then pray that God would give me the wisdom to know what to do when he misbehaves so maybe that prayer ends up being more about me, I don’t know. Sorry so long…it’s a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot myself.

  9. Great idea Jamie! I too have laxed on praying before meals, but I want to incorporate your idea into our mealtimes – I think it will work well!.

    We do get our 4 year old son to pray at bedtime – he says, “Now I lay me down to sleep…” then at the end he says, “I’m thankful for God making you” (meaning me). It is so cute…then we go through a long list of names that we ask God to bless (include our pets and our friend’s pets). We are always out of breath at the end! My son is very ornery about going to church – he wants to be a farmer when he grows up, and says that when he has his farm he’ll be too busy plowing the fields to go to church! Uffda…he exasperates me sometimes! He’s too smart for his own good!

    Anyway, thanks again for the idea!

    ~Amy in Wisconsin

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