A research study done by Teleios Research reveals helpful insights about how young Christians pray. Thankfully, many of them (about 80%) pray almost daily. Much like you’d expect, they tend to pray for praise and gratitude, most pray at night, and while at home.
But the next generation is in constant need of instruction to guide their relationship with God. Failing to instill healthy prayer habits could see these statistics fall and fade away. As a church leader, it’s your opportunity and obligation to teach the children why and how to pray.
Remind Them of the Reasons to Pray
Why do we pray? There are countless reasons and everyone has their own. Over time, and through study and attending church, adults sometimes develop a format or list of prayer points they pray over. But children don’t always understand the purpose of prayer. Help them understand why prayer is important to spiritual growth by sharing a few reasons for praying.
- To better understand God
- To thank God for our many blessings
- To remind ourselves of God’s love for us
- To tell God how you’re feeling
- To help you deal with difficult circumstances
- To humble ourselves before God
- To show our faith in God’s power
Ask kids why they might say a prayer. Encourage them to make a list that they can revisit. Add a few of your own ideas to this list and share it with them. Prompt them to write down these ideas to consult any time before they pray.
Develop a Good Prayer Rhythm
When are the best times to pray? We can pray at any time and for any reason. But children (and most adults for that matter) don’t automatically think to pray in most circumstances. Give children suggestions of times to pray to guide them into conversations with God.
- The first thing when they wake up each morning
- Before each meal
- When they’re taking a bath or shower
- Walking into school or church
- While brushing their teeth
- Before going to bed each night
Helping children in your church’s ministry to develop prayer habits will increase how often they pray. Kids who learn to spend regular time in prayer from a young age have a healthier relationship with God as they grow.
Think Through Prayer Topics
What should we pray about? Grownups have serious and weighty topics to bring before God. Kids deal with serious things, too. But showing that they can pray about simpler and more daily things will help them to pray more often or earnestly. Kids can pray about any of these topics:
- Their parents
- Their siblings and family
- Their friends
- Their school and homework
- Their church
- Their pets
- Their hopes and dreams
- Their questions
Give children examples of what they can pray about. Prayers don’t need to be complicated or confusing. Praying about the simple things helps kids to open up to God about deeper concerns.
Teach Kids How To Pray
The word prayer immediately conjures a specific image in our minds: a person on their knees, eyes closed, with hands pressed together. That’s certainly the most traditional posture of prayer in Christianity, but not the only way to pray.
In fact, there’s no correct or incorrect way to pray. It certainly helps to close your eyes to remove distractions. And resting on your knees is an accurate representation of our humility before God. But we can pray while standing or with eyes open. In prayer, our hands can be together, in front of us with palms up, or even raised above our head.
There’s also no proper duration for a prayer. Kids’ minds tend to wander, so shorter prayers are better to start. Let them build up the habit and grow into longer prayers over time.
It’s good to let kids know that there is no right or wrong method of prayer. Ask them how they might like to pray. The goal is for them to be comfortable so they can let their minds focus on God.
Find Helpful Bible Verses
The Bible is a big book. It can be overwhelming for children. But praying from Scripture is one of the best ways to introduce them to God’s world. Carefully select some verses that kids in your church’s ministry will understand and be able to pray effectively. Some options include:
- Matthew 5:16
- Luke 2:52
- Psalm 36:7-8
- Philippians 4:19
- Psalm 127:3
- Isaiah 54:13
- Joshua 1:6
Focus on a few key Bible verses to introduce them to Scripture. Introducing specific biblical prayers like The Lord’s Prayer grows their knowledge of Scripture. Show kids how relevant the Bible can be to their own life. Encourage them to read from their Bible and pray over it.
Lead by Example with Your Prayers
Children aren’t the only ones who need prayer. As a church leader, you need your own fair share of prayer. Demonstrating healthy prayer habits in front of kids gives them an example to learn from. Here are some simple prayer steps you can set a good example for them:
- Gather kids around in small groups.
- Have everyone share one prayer request.
- Start by praying for one of the requests.
- Invite each of the kids to pray for their request.
- Make this optional, but encourage them to give it a try.
- Have them close their eyes to decrease anxiety.
- Schedule a moment of quiet prayer just between them and God.
Practice these prayer habits every week at your ministry. Build kids’ comfort with praying. Invite them to ask you questions about prayer individually. You could even invite them to pray for you and your church to show that everyone needs prayer.