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How to Teach Children to Pray

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples."

Luke 11:1 (NIV)

If you know my family, you know that we are people of prayer. I think that the fact that we grew up in war contributed to our dependence on God, but the most important factor that contributed to our prayer life was that our parents taught us to pray when we were very young. One of the best memories I have of my childhood is our time of prayer as a family. Both mom and dad would kneel with my brothers and me to pray.

Someone recently asked me, how do I teach my children to pray? I told her that we teach children to pray the same way we teach them everything. We let them see us do it, we tell them how to do it, we do it with them, and we watch them do it. This is how Jesus taught his disciples to pray. The gospels tell that Jesus went to quiet places to pray with his disciples, he told them how to pray, and in the bible, we see him praying with them.

Children do what they see us do, therefore if parents want their children to pray, they must pray in front of them. Parents need to show their children that talking to God is fun and easy. No child will want to do something that seems difficult, complicated, or boring. Please do not make prayer something religious or obligatory. Prayer should be the most natural thing to do at home.

Do not teach children to repeat prayers. That will limit their interaction with God. Teach them to talk to God as who He is, their loving Heavenly Father who is always happy to talk to them. Also, teach children to expect God to answer their prayers. Why pray if God does not answer our prayers?

It will take time and you will have to commit to praying with your children daily, but speaking from experience, I tell you that the image of praying with my parents still inspires me to pray today. The time our parents spent praying with us, is something my brothers and I will be thankful for until the last day of our lives.

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