Scripture commands us to raise our children in the Lord and to teach His commandments. Prayer is an important part of our spiritual growth and teaching kids about prayer in a way that they understand and can continue for the rest of their lives is something you will not regret.
In many ways it is the basis of our faith, our connection to the God of the universe, our effort to return to the way we were created when Adam “walked with God”. Let’s explore why prayer is important, how to teach kids about prayer, and later a review on an excellent resource, “Jesus Listens”.
Why is Prayer Important?
So, why is prayer important? As I stated above, it is our connection to God. Jesus showed us by example the importance of it. Check out these verses.
And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. (Matthew 14:23)
Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. (Luke 6:12)
Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. (Mark 1:35)
Is there a right or wrong way to pray?
I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to pray. We see a variety of prayers throughout scripture which shows that prayer is very personal giving way to our own style and whatever it is our heart is feeling. Being honest with prayers and not falling into a repetition are two things you do want to consider.
This is Hannah’s prayer of thanksgiving:
“My heart rejoices in the Lord; My horn is exalted in the Lord. I smile at my enemies, Because I rejoice in Your salvation. No one is holy like the Lord, For there is none besides You, Nor is there any rock like our God. (1 Samuel 2:1-2)
David’s prayers are always honest and full of emotion. Because of this, I often feel he is one of the most relatable men in scripture. When I don’t have my own words, David’s always express what is in my heart.
Lord, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me. Many are they who say of me, “There is no help for him in God.” Selah
But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head. I cried to the Lord with my voice, And He heard me from His holy hill. Selah (Psalm 3:1-4)
When asked about prayer, Jesus responded that we should pray like this:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. (Matthew 6:9-13)
Keep in mind this is only an example and not intended to replace our own words. When we pray, we should glorify God and humbly make our requests known.
Teaching the Importance of Prayer to Our Kids
As we raise our children to be strong men and women of faith, let’s embrace the importance of teaching our kids about prayer and set them on the path of a life long conversation with their maker!
I think the most important belief to impress on our children is that God hears us, wants to communicate with us, and longs to have a personal relationship with us. Praying gives us strength, peace, encourages a heart of thanksgiving, and helps us to understand that we are not alone in this life. God is with us, walking beside us to help us every step of the way.
We feel closest to God when we pray. This closeness provides strength for everything your child will face now and in the future.
Teaching Kids About Prayer
Ok, now onto how to teach kids to pray and my review of “Jesus Listens”.
Teaching How to Pray
So, how do you go about teaching your kids how to pray?
One of the best ways I know how to go about teaching my kids how to pray is by example. We pray before meals, at bedtime, as well as at the beginning of our school day or before embarking on a long trip. This teaches them that praying throughout the day is a good habit to get into.
It is easy to get into a prayer rut and falling into a pattern of saying basicly the same thing over and over. This becomes mindless and not at all what we are going for so I make an effort to vary the content of my prayers. They still contain words of thanks, requests specific to our situation (keep us safe as we sleep or help us to have good attitudes today) as well as words of praise.
Showing our kids that prayer is personal and communicative and doesn’t have to be eloquent or grand is one of the most important examples you can set. We want our kids to be comfortable going to God with anything.
Which is why I love the book “Jesus Listens”. It teaches by example how easy it is to come to God with everything, good and bad and “everyday”.
Jesus Listens (A Review)
I was asked by Tommy Nelson Publishers to write a review of Sarah Young’s new book “Jesus Listens” and I can honestly say that I am in love with this devotional. It teaches kids exactly what the title implies, that Jesus listens when you talk to Him.
I’m not one for writing prayers for others as I feel prayers are very personal (I always skip over these when reading devotionals myself) but in the case of kids or new believers who are not yet comfortable with their own words, it is a great idea.
This is exactly how I felt with the daily prayers in “Jesus Listens”. These prayers teach kids that they can come to God with anything that is on their hearts. They can express their fears, frustration, good times, confusion, hurts, thankfulness, joy, and trials with God.
They learn that God is their best friend and always ready to guide and help them throughout their day. And just as the title says, they learn that God listens when they pray.
Each devotional begins with a Bible verse which is the base of the following prayer. They Bible verses flow into thoughts and feelings that are relevent to children 8-12 (though my 7 year old also listened and enjoyed the book).
The language is simple but not “baby-ish” and covers a multitude of common feelings and struggles that children this age go through. These feelings are addressed in a positive light and a feeling of confidence that God is with you is conveyed on every page.
Additional verses for further study are provided at the end. Whether you are looking for a family devotional to study with your kids or a resource to encourage young friends and family members to develop their own quiet time, this is an excellent book.
Things I really liked:
- The language is simple and yet age appropriate.
- Feelings and thoughts are mentioned that kids might not be able to find the words to express on their own.
- Topics are relevent.
- Bible verses provide a way for children to become familiar with many topics in scripture.
- The prayers bring the Bible verses to life and show kids how relatable and personal scripture is.
- The length is perfect to hold the attention of even the younger memebers of your family if you are using this as a family devotional.
- Written for both boys and girls.
- This is a 365 day devotional and really encourages kids or families to read it daily. In our busy society, God often falls to the wayside and this will help keep you on track.
- The content is spiritually acurate. I did not come across anything that I felt was questionable.
- These daily devotionals are an open door to further conversation as they touch on things we might not just bring up to our kids on our own.
A Little About Sarah Young
Sarah Young, author of the bestselling 365-day devotionals Jesus Calling and Jesus Always, has sold more than 40 million books worldwide. Jesus Calling has appeared on all major bestseller lists. Sarah’s writings include Jesus Calling, Jesus Listens, Jesus Always, Jesus Today, Jesus Lives, Dear Jesus, Jesus Calling for Little Ones, Jesus Calling Bible Storybook, Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions for Kids, Peace in His Presence, and more, each encouraging readers in their journeys toward intimacy with Christ. Sarah and her husband were missionaries in Japan and Australia for many years. They currently live in the United States. Sarah enjoys praying daily for readers of all her books.
Conclusion to Teaching Kids about Prayer
A couple of last thought on teaching kids about prayer. Paul instructs us to “pray without ceasing” and we can encourage that in both our own lives and in those of our children by making a point to meet with God multiple times throughout the day. Make prayer a habit in your quiet devotional times, at key moments thoughout your day, and during times of frustration or anxiety.
I remember one time when my boys were in the midst of an all out fight, I made everyone stop and we prayed. That completely broke the anger that was enveloping our home and brought peace back. Did they fight again later? Absolutely, but it impressed upon me the importance of praying without ceasing.
I also want to encourage you to teach your kids to pray for others. Praying for others can restore friendships, help others through their own struggles, and form strong bonds. Jesus instructs us to pray for those who use spitefully use you and persecute you.
As children learn about friendships, they will discover that many people have situations and struggles that they cannot see and by learning to pray for those kids that are difficult or mean, it will help them to react in a positive way and deal with the hurt by bringing it to God.
I hope this discussion on teaching kids about prayer was helpful and that you will check out Sarah Young’s latest book “Jesus Listens” as I am sure it will bless a young person in your life.
For further study on prayer, check out these posts!