Katherine Ash
Praying With Children

Praying With Children
This week is the week of prayer, and what a great time we’ve had! Meeting together to worship, thank God for His goodness to us, and lift a whole range of situations to Him in prayer. God has been speaking to us individually, in groups and corporately and I am really looking forward to a summary of all of those things at the end of the week.

But, as I was praying the other day, I was challenged about how we share this week of prayer and encourage our children to take part. Perhaps we should think about including a family prayer meeting into the week, but that is something to think about for the future. But, I thought that I’d share my provocation, to make sure that we are including all of our church family, including the children. I have borrowed a few ideas about ways that you could include your children in what is happening. From experience, I know that God breaks in when children are released to pray. There is something about the faith that they have, the certainty that God will show up, and I find that it increases my faith.

We pray with our 2 year old regularly. She loves to pray and I love hearing her sitting in the car seat talking to Jesus, and thanking Him. When we specifically suggest things for her to pray for, I love hearing what she has heard, and the way she turns these things into her requests to God. Recently, we were praying for her cousins who are going through a tough time, and I was so encouraged by the way that she prayed, her faith that God will break into the situation, and the love that was in the prayers that she prayed. But, praying is not always easy with children, and we have certainly been learning about ways to engage with our daughter and with God.

So, whether you are praying as a family daily, or like us a few times per week, or feel like you need some ideas of things that you could try, then I have some suggestions. These may help in your own prayer life, they may be more of a distraction, but my encouragement to you is try them out and see how they work.

  • Get used to thanking God together – we have a pen board in our kitchen which every now and then we’ll use to write down all the things we are thankful for. Some of these are simple things (the cat, shoes etc), some are the huge things of life, lots are somewhere between. We’ve found this is a great prayer starter and we often will pray for the things we’re writing down as we go!
  • Gratefulness Jar – this year we plan to sit down weekly and write down some things we’re grateful for that week on bits of paper and pop them in a jar. The plan is at the end of the year we’ll sit down together and read through the things we’re grateful for and it will remind us of the many things God has done in and through us during the year!
  • Creating paper chains: Children often like to do practical things while thinking and praying, so why not start with some different coloured paper in strips, write a prayer on one side, or say out loud what it represents, and then connect them together. You can give each of the different colours a theme, or just enjoy the mayhem!
  • Play dough: why not model something which represents what you are praying for
  • When praying for healing, perhaps use some plasters and write some names on them, stick them on a sheet of paper
  • Use some cut outs of people, and get colouring/ decorating them. Guide your children to trying to be specific about a particular person, and as you go, encourage them to pray.

As always, a couple of helpful resources here for you:

Praying For Friends
Using Prayer Stations with Children
Creative Prayer Ideas
Paper Chain Prayer Idea
Prayer Ideas

Prayer shouldn’t just be for the adults – it should be something we encourage everyone in our community to participate in. We won’t all pray in the same way with the same kinds of words, for some it may seem simplistic but Jesus commanded his disciples to let the little children come to him and he specifically said “do not hinder them, because God’s kingdom belongs to such as these.” Matt 19:14

For most of us our desire for our children is to become followers of Christ. This shouldn’t just happen by osmosis, it shouldn’t be something that simply happens…in fact in reality it should be something we spend time focussing on within our families and our church community. 

What is Prayer?
Put simply prayer is being with and having a conversation with God. We want our children to learn early on that they can talk to their Heavenly Father just like they can with their parents or friends. They should also know that God is there and attentive at all times listening to what they have to say to Him. That He loves it when we spend time talking to Him – it doesn’t matter where we are, at home, in the care, at the park…

Remember one of the best ways for us to get to know God, and not just to know about Him, is to spend time with Him in prayer.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on how you pray with your children. Whether things that worked well or didn’t work so well. It would be great to hear your stories!