As a parent I’ve been instructed to train my children in the way they should go. Part of that training includes spiritual disciplines, one of which is prayer.
When the kids were quite young, I decided do my own “Bible class” and begin teaching my kids how to pray. I wanted them to surpass my childhood standard of:
Teach them to Pray
Thank you for this day. Thank you for this food. Bless it to our bodies. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
On our first night of “Bible class”, I read them the 23rd Psalm. They listened intently as I intoned each melodious phrase. Then I revealed that this was someone’s prayer. “Isn’t that beautiful? It almost sounds like poetry or a story, doesn’t it? God loves it when we talk to him like this in prayer–we can say anything we want any way we want to say it.”
I told the kids that starting that very night, I’d begin helping them learn to pray and talk to God like this. At bedtime, I started leading them through prompting prayers. I prompted, but then remained silent to let them fill in the blank.
Here is a sampling of leading phrases; for brevity’s sake I usually chose one sentence from each “section” to keep prayer time moving along. Scroll to the bottom of this post for a downloadable sheet with more prompting suggestions.
Teaching my kids to pray has also helped my own prayer life. Often while I’m leading my kids through their fill-in-the-blank prayers, I think of how I would/should fill in a blank, and end up in tears. And many times, the most intriguingly beautiful, simple, or astounding things come out of my children’s mouths.
When I listen to my daughter describe how wonderful God has made this planet, and how she can’t believe he thought up all those different, beautiful colors, it’s all I can do to stifle sobs of guilt as just a few moments earlier I was upset about the sticky green Jell-O on the floor of my kitchen.
When my little son asks “Dear God and Jesus” to help him be good, and he says it so simply and honestly sounds a tiny bit contrite and earnest, it gives me a jolt of hope like a lightning bolt that despite the happenstances of the day he left shredded behind us, maybe he truly does desire to behave better than he does.
When my daughter pleads with God to please help her not be so scared, I feel her pain and send up my fervent prayers for the same things for her as well. I love that she can be so transparent with God knowing He truly is listening and loving. And be still my heart, when she affirms a verse in her prayer, “help me not to fear because God is with me” (Isaiah 41:10a).
These sometimes-big prayers from my little people are truly sweet whisperings in God’s ears. And these prompting prayers are one way that I am helping my kids learn to connect to the God I so ardently desire for them to come to know better. We started this practice more than 5 years ago. And to this day, my kids still sometimes ask to be prompted as we pray together.
You can download a FREE printable version of the Prayer Guide HERE.
Jenna has been in love with words all her life—especially God’s Word that helped her realize her need for a Savior in the first grade. Triple-majoring in English, Secondary Education and Professional/Technical Writing with a Bible minor in her undergrad and pursuing a Master’s in Management, she has since managed to be a high school English teacher, Human Resources generalist, SAHM, pastor’s wife, PPD and adoption advocate, contract writer/editor, VP PTA Communications, and is currently helping elevate the message of OneHope around the world. She serves as a 2nd grade small group leader at Browns Bridge Church, is married to Dan and has 4 children ages 7, 8, 9 & 11.