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Teaching Children How to Pray | Simple and Heartfelt Strategies

Updated on December 4, 2013
Teaching prayer can provide immeasurable benefit to your child throughout his lifetime.
Teaching prayer can provide immeasurable benefit to your child throughout his lifetime. | Source

Common Childhood Prayers

Here are some basic prayers you can teach your child as they are learning to pray:

Prayer Is an Act Both Great and Small

Teaching your child to pray is a priority for many parents. Where doing this may seem intuitive for some, other people, I know, find it difficult to settle on the how-to. If one has fallen out of practice of religion, or if you have never really learned much about a particular faith yourself, it can be challenging to pass this lesson along with confidence.

I believe with all my being that prayer helps people deal with life in times of trouble, as well as fosters a feeling of security in that, with prayer, one is never alone. Teaching your child this basic undertaking exposes them to a powerful grace that can be greatly beneficial to them during their lifetime. To believe that there is a higher power looking out for you, and having a confidence that life transcends death, takes so much pressure off our human shoulders! It allows one a venue to love, appreciate, praise and know, God.

I have always been blessed with a natural gift of faith, yet it was undoubtedly first fostered by my parents and what they believed, passing this along to me. I would love to share with parents who are wondering how to approach the subject of prayer with their children, a point from which to begin if they are in need of a little practical advice.

Plant the seeds of faith for your child simply by conveying your own belief in God.
Plant the seeds of faith for your child simply by conveying your own belief in God. | Source

Plant the Seeds of Faith

No matter what belief you are, what religion, prayer is a universal practice that is open to everyone, and I believe, there really is, no wrong way to pray. In fact, I feel that every prayer in itself, is a perfect thing and this can be an encouragement for you as you embark on teaching prayer.

Loving God and trusting in God is the basis for praying. I, as a Catholic, believe in Jesus, the Son of God, and Mary, his mother and their power as constants in my life. I also believe in the saints and the communion of souls - including those loved ones and friends who have passed - and that they can intercede for us, making our prayers ever stronger, ever heard (see the video below on the pope’s teachings on this subject) by God. But even if your beliefs do not align exactly with mine, you can still teach your child that God is personally accessible and praying to God can enhance your life, provide security and give a springboard to jump from in the future when your child may wish to further explore his or her journey of faith.

If you introduce the existence of God to your child, they will have a basis for such grace in their lifetime, should they choose to embrace it. If you do not teach prayer or introduce God, they may have a more difficult time in finding it on their own. If you believe in God, it is only fitting that you would pass this belief on to your children, as you would pass any other important lessons about life. Children are extremely accepting of the beliefs their parents convey to them (as expressed in the article Culture Shapes Religious Beliefs, Psychology Today). This is the power you have as a parent, and some believe, your role in God’s plan.

Who Might We Pray To?

You might want to introduce your child to praying to:

  • God
  • Jesus
  • The Holy Spirit
  • Mary (The Mother of Jesus)
  • Saints (blessed souls in heaven)
  • Communion of Souls (souls that have died)
  • Their Guardian Angel

Utilize the Five Elements of Prayer

In Catholicism, there are really five basic elements of prayer, or five reasons that we might want to pray. In your pursuit of introducing prayer into your child’s life, you may want to touch upon these as a guide for your children as they begin their earliest prayers, and as they build a relationship with God. Even one minute spent on each is enough time!

Simply try addressing each of the following with your child, perhaps as part of a nightly ritual, naming them while you “say your prayers” out loud with your son or daughter, and share your day. They will love this time spent with you and as young children, they will be accepting of the belief in God that you convey just by experiencing this often-cherished practice of simply talking to God. Together:

  • pray for protection or help. Prayers of petition are when we ask for God’s protection or help. It is probably the most common type of prayer. This is when you ask God for protection in your own life or help with any worry that is on your mind. This teaches children that they are good, deserving of love from God, and important to God. It teaches your child that he or she can always go to God for help and that they are not alone in their problems. It will impact them for their life. You can introduce this by asking your child if they have any intentions for God or needs that they would like help with. You can together ask for God’s protection, for your child and your family, naming members

  • pray to praise God. You can pray to express your belief in the glory of God and to praise and glorify God for all his wonder. You can worship God by reveling in a beautiful day, that he created, or by praying the Our Father, in which you state, “hallowed be thy name.” It tells God that you trust in him and his power and glory. Basically, you are imparting that God is good and deserving of devotion.

  • pray for forgiveness. This is when you pray to God when you are sorry for actions that were less than kind or loving. You can pray to ask for forgiveness and healing. This shows children that they are good, that we all make mistakes and that we can move on from them. It teaches them to care about the way they choose to live and links morality to God and the concept of afterlife.

  • pray for others. This is when you ask God to bless those you love and to pray for those that need special help or intentions. This is a great reason to pray as it teaches children to be compassionate for others and fosters kindness in their soul and in their moral ethic. It helps them to feel that they can make a difference for people who are having trouble and, truthfully, through prayers, they can. You can ask your child who they would like to pray for simply by doing a round of “God bless…. (insert names of people your child would like to pray for).”

  • pray to thank. You can pray to thank God for blessings in your life or for answered prayers. You can thank God in advance for prayers of petition you have put forth. This conveys to your child that good things come from God, fostering trust and strengthening belief. At night before bed, your child can thank God for his mommy, his daddy, and those people and things that are blessings in his life, recognizing appreciation for what God has given us.

Simple Ways to Reinforce Prayer With your Child

Encourage Your Child to Pray

Put God to use! My religion teaches that God wants us to pray to him. He actually wants us to ask for things!!! There are so many places in the bible where we are shown that asking for help is what God wants from us (“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and the door will be opened to you,” Matthew 7:7). Instill this understanding in your children.

So often, I think people are worried that asking for help from God is selfish or that they are undeserving, or they feel guilty asking God for help, if they haven’t been close to God for a while. I feel the opposite. Trouble in life is an opportunity for you to get closer to God, again, through prayer.

Make Prayer a Dialogue

As a Catholic ccd teacher, I love to teach children that they can have an ongoing dialogue with God. They do not have to use lofty prayers or preset words to establish a relationship with the Lord. They can simply talk to God in their head. God can be a friend to your child. Prayer can be anything your child wishes it to be. I find this comforting, and so should you, as you introduce prayer to your child.

Attending church services with your child is a good way to reinforce that God is a priority in your life.
Attending church services with your child is a good way to reinforce that God is a priority in your life. | Source

Incorporate Prayer in Your Daily Life

All in all, teaching your children to pray is a great gift you can give to your child and yes, it may be something as parent, that you owe them if you wish to pass on your own ideas of faith. As established above, there are lasting benefits for your child in being introduced to the basics of a faith system.

You can incorporate prayer into your daily life to reinforce the importance of praying with you child, before bed, before meals and in the morning, as you start your day and on Sunday. If you have a special need or intention, ask your child to pray for you or others as part of your normal daily conversation. When you see an ambulance with sirens blaring while driving with your kids, call out “Pray for those people!” If you wish to further faith instruction for your child, consider signing them up to a local church’s religious education program. Look up churches in your area online. They are always very open to discussing their programs and often times, you do not have to be a practicing member of their church or even their religion to join. Classes usually last one hour and are once a week.

Also, take your child to a religious service on Sunday. Many children love doing this with their family. It shows your child that you are setting a priority for God in your life. I am always surprised to find that people are nervous to attend services if they are out of practice. There is no need to be! Parishes welcome attendees with open arms and without question. Good luck in this blessed endeavor. Love to you all.

Display small reminders of faith about your house.
Display small reminders of faith about your house. | Source

Praying to Saints and Communion of Souls for Intercession

What do you think?

I believe that teaching my child to pray is an important responsibility I have as a parent.

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    • amiebutchko profile image

      Amie Butchko 2 years ago from Warwick, NY

      Thank you, Thefedorows. I love coming across people who value prayer as I do! I know you'll be awesome teaching the faith someday! :) Thank you so much for the votes! You made my day.

    • thefedorows profile image

      thefedorows 2 years ago from the Midwest

      This is a well-written hub! I liked your personal reflections along with practical tips (like the 5 finger prayer--great idea). Voted beautiful, useful and thumbs up. It is refreshing to read your view on teaching our children to pray, it is something we look forward to being able to do someday!

    • amiebutchko profile image

      Amie Butchko 3 years ago from Warwick, NY

      I think that is awesome momsdoworkathome. I think it really makes for great memories and will impact them for a lifetime in such a positive way! Thanks for reading!

    • momsdoworkathome profile image

      Katina Davenport 3 years ago from Michigan

      We are not Catholic but my children know the Lord's Prayer from memory. We pray together every night and they enjoy it. Great article.

    • amiebutchko profile image

      Amie Butchko 3 years ago from Warwick, NY

      Thank you, InspiredHeart. It would seem we have a lot in common! Thank you so very much for reading my work. I can see I am in good company!

    • Inspired Heart profile image

      Yvette Stupart 3 years ago from Jamaica

      Thanks for your wonderful hub (well-written and informative). I love the ideas outlined for teaching children to pray, for example, incorporating prayer in all aspects of our daily life.

    • M K Paul profile image

      M K Paul 3 years ago from India

      It is nobel cause...Very nice article amie

    • amiebutchko profile image

      Amie Butchko 3 years ago from Warwick, NY

      Thank you, teaches 12345! It makes me happy to see so many people who hold prayer as a priority for kids. It is important and something that lasts a lifetime! Thanks so much for reading....

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      I can think of no greater legacy than to inspire prayer in your child. What a great topic and so well covered. Blessings!

    • rutley profile image

      rutley 3 years ago from South Jersey

      This was really good! Nice job! Happy Hubbing!

    • amiebutchko profile image

      Amie Butchko 3 years ago from Warwick, NY

      Thank you Dream On. Saying bedtime prayers when little is something that stays with you for the rest of your life, for sure, as a treasured memory. I appreciate your input and loved hearing about your quiet faith and its strength in your life.

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 3 years ago

      I first want to say I loved your hub. Prayer has been an important private time in my life. It brings me back to when I was a child and we learned to pray every night before bed. There were times when I forgot about praying and now I have done a full circle and do pray all the time. I keep it simple and like to think I am walking and talking to God. I pray for all the blessings I have received and how fortunate my life as been. As we grow older we have more experiences and knowledge and see both the good and bad in life. Unfortunately it does not come a little at a time. With the help of prayer in my life it has been my guiding light.Thank you for reminding me about the power of prayer.With God's love have a beautiful afternoon.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 3 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      I have a strong belief in the power of prayer in the family. We pray together daily as a family, and as soon as our children could kneel, we helped them to have their own private prayers. Children have a natural faith and we, as their parents, are in a great position to enhance it and be a part of it blessing their lives. I have witnessed my children's prayers being answered in marvelous ways. It is a great testimony to the loving kindness of our God.

    • Susan Recipes profile image

      Susan 3 years ago from India

      Great hub. Very useful. Thanks for sharing.

    • amiebutchko profile image

      Amie Butchko 3 years ago from Warwick, NY

      Thanks so much! Sometimes it is so easy to forget that kids don't just know what we know and think how we think. I have to remember to constantly talk about God so it will settle in!!!!

    • VVanNess profile image

      Victoria Van Ness 3 years ago from Prescott Valley

      Thank you for this amazing article! There aren't many honest resources available for Christian parents. :)

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