Teaching Children to Pray
Sharon Ellard made a statement that has changed the way I teach children. She said, “If we taught children to swim the same way we teach them the Bible, they would all drown.” Knowing “how” to swim is not enough. They must get in the water. They have to experience it for themselves. The same holds true for prayer. It not enough for you to believe in prayer. It is not enough for the children to know all the mechanics of prayer- they need to do it. They need to pray.
Children Can Pray, Too!
- Expose your children to an environment that will lead them into relationship or friendship with Jesus.
- Have a regular time of prayer in your children’s church that is more than a courtesy prayer used to start and end children’s church.
- Prayer should be upward, outward and inward.
- Upward by giving them opportunity and teaching them to worship.
- Outward by giving them opportunity to pray for each others. Political leaders, you as their pastor, missionaries and the needs of people around them.
- Inward. Give them opportunity to respond to God after the message.By praying God what are you saying to me? Is their sin in my heart?
Don’t just talk about prayer. Do it!
Children can pray too!
Prayer is the most powerful force available to mankind. It is the key to the vast storehouse of all God’s provision. It is the communication vehicle to the very throne of the Creator of this universe. Prayer connects us to God.
Prayer takes the youngest child or the oldest adult into the presence of Almighty God.God’s presence has not always been available to everyone. In the Old Testament, God’s presence rested over the Ark of the Covenant. The priest was only allowed to enter once a year. A heavy veil separated the priest and all Israel from the presence of God. When Jesus died on the cross that veil was torn, just like you fold a piece of paper and tear it down the crease. That veil was torn in half. It wasn’t torn from the bottom, like a man grabbed it and ripped it. It was torn from the top to the bottom, like God reached down from Heaven, and ripped the veil in two. Then we could enter His presence. Jesus’ atonement on the cross made a way for us to go into the presence of God.
Now the ball is in our court. Will we choose to come into His presence or will we fill our lives to the point there isn’t any time, energy, or desire to worship at His throne? I struggle with it daily. There are so many things I want to get done, so many demands on my time, but I have discovered two things:
1. I accomplish far more when I put Him first.
2. My walk with God is a relationship not a marathon.
Children have the same choice to make. There are so many things that fill their day, so many choices to make. We need to help them understand how much God loves them. We need to help them understand the power of prayer and how much God wants to be their best friend.
Take time to pray in children’s church.
I understand that teaching is a priority, but I also understand that taking time to pray should be a priority. It doesn’t have to be long. Let the children take turns leading in prayer. Also give them time to pray quietly at their seats. I am finding that children want to spend time with God privately. Give them opportunity to just talk to God in their own words. Teach on prayer in children’s church. You can’t expect them to hear about prayer once and become people of prayer. Take children to the scriptures to build their faith. Help them to base their request on scripture. Help them see that God is a loving father that wants to bless His children. Use the Lord’s Prayer as a pattern to teach them that prayer is more than a request list. Our Army of God unit spends 6 weeks teaching on prayer. Click here to see the children’s church curriculum on prayer.Teach them to listen for the still, small voice of God as they pray. Teach them to spend time thanking God as well as asking God. Teach them to pray for other’s needs in children’s church.The carnal man thinks first of himself and what he wants. Train children to have compassion and empathy for others. Demonstrate it yourself. When a child shares a need write it down. Ask them about the situation later. I do not let them publicly share private things. I encourage them to ask for prayer without exposing things that would embarrass their family. I sometimes forget a need when we go to pray as a group, so I have made it a practice and encourage my children to pray for the need silently as it is shared. That way I pray over every need. I also ask the Holy Spirit to remind me of things I should pray for during my prayer time. Share answers to prayer.Let the children give testimonies of answered prayer. When God meets needs on your prayer request list share it with your class. Take time to thank God together for answering prayer. The answers to prayer can be put on a “Praising Wall”, in emails or in your children’s church newsletter.
Worship should be a priority in children’s church.
A young father told his little son they were going to Jesus’ house.
“Why are we going there?” the child asked. “To see Jesus,” the father explained.
The little fellow’s eyes widened, “to see Jesus?”
“That’s right. We’re going to Jesus’ house to see Jesus. When the dad parked the car, the little fellow wiggled out of his seat and ran to the front door.
He burst through the door anxious to see Jesus. He ran down front calling, “Jesus, Jesus. Where are you?” Looking back at his dad, he explained, “I guess He’s not home.”
Cute story, but the reality is too close for comfort. How many children know about Jesus, but they do not have a living relationship with Him?
Children’s church is a place where children can get to know Jesus in a personal way at their level of understanding. Do the children in your children’s church leave thinking, “I guess He’s not home.”
Children need to experience the presence of God in children’s church. They can and they will when His presence is a priority. Scripture promises that He inhabits the praises of His people.
Click here for more ideas to help you teach children to pray.