Raising a child in a church community does not ensure their heart will be captured for Christ.
Oftentimes between work and busy schedules, parents send their children to children’s church, church camp, and youth events thinking these church functions will be enough for their kids to “turn out okay” or “win victoriously.” As vital as those events are in helping kids learn the importance of church community and building a firm Biblical foundation, nothing compares to kids having a real relationship with Jesus Christ.
Prayer habits that last a lifetime are most often formed in early childhood.
As a parent, years of hopeful effort and prayer are devoted to your child’s wellbeing, safety, and spirituality. Raising a child to pray, love and pursue the heart of the Lord can be one of the greatest joys a parent can hope to experience. Prayer is the key to a child getting to know God, trusting Him and learning to hear His voice clearly. Prayer is fundamental to a child forming a real relationship with Christ which will sustain them into adulthood.
As a children’s pastor, I have seen kids grow up in the church and begin to make their own choices. Some of those choices I secretly applauded, inside knowing their relationship with Jesus took root! While at the same time, I have seen other kids struggle through adolescence and maturity continuing to make poor choices and in turn suffer greatly. The heartbreaking truth is some kids know a lot about Jesus but never truly got to know Jesus.
I have been asked many times, “How do I teach my child to pray?” Instead of answering, I now ask the question, “Do you example and practice a life of prayer in your home with your child?”
Children are always listening and watching.
Between the baby stage to about 10 years old, a child looks up to a parent or guardian as if they are their hero. At those ages, we have their full attention. Chances are small habits and/or tendencies are probably being magnified and quite often mimicked by them. In the area of spirituality kids have a sense as to whether or not their parents attend church with happy spirits, pray before a meal, cultivate the fruits of the Spirit, treat others with kindness, or talk to God. If they aren’t listening or watching us pray, there may be no tangible example for them to follow. What an incredible influence we as parents have on our kids. Kids can learn how to not only be with God but to actually have a conversation with Him! They can discover early how to talk to God just like they talk to Mommy or Daddy or even a close friend. The key is to help kids understand how God’s presence is always surrounding them and they can trust Him to be there for them every second.
Teaching our kids to pray is simply being intentional about modeling for our kids an easy comfortable way to simply talk to God.
Here are a few ways we can teach our children the importance of prayer as they begin to cultivate their very own personal relationship with God.
PRAYER IS NOT BORING
Find new ways, places and times to pray.
TO LISTEN FOR GOD
Ask them often to listen for God’s voice. “What did God say?”
TO CAST THEIR CARE
Pray for them out loud when they are scared, worried, hurt or crying.
PRAY FOR OTHERS
Pray for neighbors, teachers, friends and family at every turn.
After great food, fun or activities, take time to thank God through prayer. Surrounding the table before a meal, setting aside time to talk to God, praying as you tuck them into bed – there are countless opportunities on a daily basis to create habitual gratefulness and prayer times.
TO ASK GOD TO FORGIVE THEIR MISTAKES
Use their mistakes as opportunities to teach them how to ask God for forgiveness.
TEACH THEM HOW TO PRAY
Create short sentences kids can say easily about wisdom, God’s love, thankfulness, hope, fears and other topics which are will help them gain perspective as to the character of God and his faithfulness. Then pray through these short sentences together helping them to learn how to pray. One great place to start is opening the Bible and reading the Lord’s Prayer.
GOD CARES ABOUT EVERY LITTLE AND BIG THING
Make prayers relevant to kid’s lives. If they stub their toe or spill their milk show them God cares.