Photo by Thomas Hawk via Flickr

As a Christian and parent of young children (one soon to be 6 year old and 3 year old twins), I feel challenged to teach my children to establish a habit of praying regularly.

I know that they are young, but as with good manners and eating habits, it’s never too early to start laying the foundations for later in life.

As such, here is the strategy that I’ve put in place to teach my kids how to pray.

Create a habit.  Every night when I tuck my kids into bed, I pray with each of them individually.  It’s nothing too extravagant, just a simple thank you to God for a great day and praying for His protection and guidance tomorrow, but it’s become a very special time.  It’s got to a point now, where if I forget or am in a hurry, they won’t let me leave the room until I’ve prayed with them. 

Encourage them to pray as well.  After I’ve prayed with each child, I ask them if they want to pray.  Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.  I don’t pressure them either way.  I don’t want prayer to become a chore or duty for them, so I don’t give them a hard time if they choose not to pray. 

If they choose to pray then I encourage their efforts.  They may pray for obscure things, they may be clumsy in their efforts, but they’re only kids and in my opinion at this stage of their lives it’s more important that they pray than that I get too caught up in what they say in their prayers.

Be spontaneous.  Whilst it’s important to get into the habit of prayer, it’s also important to help kids to understand that prayer isn’t a ritual, but a conversation with Jesus.  If we as a family have a reason to be grateful or to ask God for help with something, we try to stop for a moment and pray.

Role-model prayer yourself.  Research suggests that children are much more likely to have an active prayer life and remain connected to the church as adults if their parents actively role-model a personal prayer life. 

I spend time in prayer early in the morning and there was a time when I would become frustrated by the times when my kids would interrupt me.  After a while I realised that if I welcomed them in for a few moments rather than growl at them, they would feel included and then leave me in peace to complete my prayer-time.

That’s my strategy for teaching my children how to pray.  I think that all four aspects are important and if practiced regularly give you the opportunity to establish this important habit in your kid’s lives.

Do you have any helpful tips to add?

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