As we gathered together in our bed, I decided to try this one approach to praying with kids, and my children have really enjoyed it. There are many ways to talk with God. I like to encourage my kids that they can talk to Him about anything at anytime. As we are closing out the day, we spend a bit more intentional talking to God – our Creator, our Rock and our Savior – together. If you want a more specific activity to do with younger kids, here is a prayer sheet you can do together that follows a similar approach.
Teaching kids to pray is one of the best legacies we can leave. Prayer is powerful. As we go about our day in prayer, we can do it in a variety of ways. We can be very intentional, setting aside specific time. Starting a prayer journal can be powerful. Praying scripture is another option. Some find much solace in the words of written liturgy. Popcorn prayers can be sent up throughout the day. It doesn’t need to be formal. Just meet God where you are at and talk to Him honestly about life.
That said, there can be a more directed prayer time that helps with focus and is more comprehensive, which is what I want to share with you today.
Our night time routine with the kids has been pretty regulated, but our prayers were simple prayers. We just said the words that were on our hearts, which is great. There is time for that.
The bedtime routine looked like this: brush teeth, potty, drink of water, tuck each child in bed and do a book (if time allowed), prayers, procrastination, procrastination, procrastination. You can read more about that struggle with procrastination here and one of our solutions here.
Due to the end part of that routine, which wasn’t so sweet, we decided to try something different. Some nights, rather than tucking everyone in bed individually, we all piled into our bed to say prayers. We were doing it like normal – parents would pray and kids would add anything they’d like. Sometimes we’d take prayer requests at the beginning and then mom or dad would pray over it all.
One Approach to Praying with Kids
One night, however, I chimed in with a new approach for us. Have you heard about the five things to include in prayers? I’ll lay it out below:
- Praise – Praise God for who He is and all He is doing. “Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! While I live I will praise the Lord; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.” ~ Psalm 146:1-2
- Thanksgiving – Thank God for all He has given – His provisions, His creation, His Presence, His Spirit and the Fruits of the Spirit. “…giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…” ~ Ephesians 5:20
- Intercession – This is a fancy word that means praying for others. Who do we know that needs God and needs His help right now? “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” ~ 1 Timothy 2:1-2
- Confession – God wants us to live in the light – with Him and with others. Confession is a time to name our sins and ask for forgiveness. It’s important for your kids to see what is on your heart and your willingness to be real and vulnerable about your sin (within age-appropriate reason). It’s also important for you to hear what is on their heart. I have had kids confess to stealing candy, treating their siblings poorly, yelling at us and more. It’s powerful to hear them remorseful and know that they are forgiven. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” ~ 1 John 1:9
- Petition – This is a time to make our own requests known to the Lord. It can be for something physical like provision and meeting our daily needs. It can also be something spiritual, like one of the fruits of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, thankfulness, gentleness and self control. I’m often paying for more patience…just sayin’. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” ~ Philippians 4:6
What does this look like as a family? One of the parents guides this time. We says something like, “Lord, we praise you so much for all you have done and who you are.” Then, we call on the kids by name to add their praise. We praise God because He is just, holy, loving, grace-filled, powerful, knowledgeable, creative and forgiving – just to name a few.
After a time of praise, we move on through the other 4 categories of prayer. Each of my kids have been eager to participate and ask for this method of prayer every night since beginning.
Before, we would have a hit or a miss as to whether our kids wanted to pray out loud. It has been very encouraging that with guided prayer they not only want to pray, but feel more direction and focus in our time talking to the Lord.
After prayer, we give our hugs and kisses and send the kids off to their rooms. We give them 5 minutes to pick out clothes for the next day and get settled. Then, it is lights out.
There are still times we go into the kids’ rooms and spend time with them individually. It can be sweet one on one time. However, I’ve loved this family time, gathered in our bed, praying with intention together. This one approach to praying with kids has been meaningful for each one of us.