Simple and Effective Ways to Teach Children to Pray

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Our job as Christian Mamas is to teach our little ones to carry their hearts to Jesus in prayer, but we can’t do it for them. These 9 tips are to help you help your child fall in love with praying. And you too, my friend, because we all need a deeper walk with Jesus.

We care a lot about the health of our children. We encourage them to eat well, invest in vitamins or supplements to fill in the gaps, and make sure they get plenty of sleep and time outdoors. Of course, physical health is important, but it is their spiritual health that matters most.

I do Bible studies with my kids daily. We memorize Scripture and go to church each time the doors are open. My oldest has made our faith his own and amazes us with his understanding. So imagine my surprise when I realized my son was no longer “into” praying. 

The importance of prayer cannot be overstated in our relationship with Christ. How successful would your marriage be if you and your spouse never spoke? Our relationship with Jesus is the same way.

We can’t truly know Him and be in communion with Him unless we are communicating with Him. 

Knowing all of this, I knew I had to somehow capture the heart of my son and help point him to a deeper prayer life.

But I didn’t know how.

My kids could talk the warts off of a bullfrog, but how do you get them to turn their thoughts into prayers and share them with the God who created them? 

Nothing- absolutely nothing- matters more than the relationship our children have with Jesus. 

So how are we teaching them to pray? 

Disclaimer: This blog contains Affiliate links. As a partner with NotConsusmed Ministries, I earn a small commission off of every purchase made through the links in this site. This is at no additional cost to you, but helps support our family!

a little girl praying beside the bed, how to teach  children to pray, child praying

Teach them diligently

Okay, I know your plate is full.

Between dishes, laundry, dinners, and errands you are swamped! Add in homeschooling and teaching to read or multiply fractions- and who has time for it all?

Won’t they learn this in Sunday School anyway? 

I don’t want to knock Sunday school, but the reality is that 30 minutes one day a week is not enough to encourage your children to develop an intimate relationship with Jesus. 

In Deuteronomy 6:7, we are instructed to teach our children [the Word of God] diligently, “when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise”.   

Teaching our children about God- His character, His word, and how to converse and commune with Him is of the utmost importance.

We are told to teach them diligently– when we are at home and when we are out and about. As we get ready for bed, when we wake in the morning- up, down, in, and around, we are called to teach them diligently!

As a Christian parent, we know this is our job, but we often feel we aren’t equipped well enough to handle it. 

Good news: you aren’t enough! 

Why is that good?

Because Christ’s strength is perfected in our weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9) We have the Holy Spirit here to guide us, teach us, and grow us alongside our children. Our job as parents is to teach them, pray with and for them, and allow God to work. We water, but it is God who gives the increase. 

Remember God doesn’t need your perfection. He doesn’t need you to feed the 5,000. He simply needs you to bring your basket and trust Him!

With that in mind, here are 9 simple and effective ways to teach your children to pray. 

Check out our full library of Biblical Motherhood content here!

9 Simple and Effective Ways to Teach Your Children to Pray 

1. Model It

A couple of years ago my husband went to a Men’s Meeting at a friend’s church. After breakfast the next day he pulled me aside and said, “I’ve been praying that Isaiah would start wanting to pray.” He paused and tears pooled in the corners of his eyes, “Last night, God showed me that I can’t expect something from him, that I am not modeling for him myself.” 

Those words have been planted in my heart ever since. 

It is so simple, but it is so true. 

If we want our children to be readers, we have to become readers. 

If we want our children to be kind, we have to model kindness to them. 

And if we want our children to be prayer warriors, they need to see and hear us praying. 

At the time I had a habit of shutting the door when I went in to pray. I wiped away the tears and collected myself before letting my little ones in until my husband shared that with me. 

So, I started to leave the door open.

I began to pray in the van just as I would if I were alone. I let them see the tears, the truth, and hear what it sounded like when Mama revealed her whole heart to God. 

And so did my husband. 

2. Do A Prayer Centered Bible Study

This is such an amazing and effective way to naturally encourage prayer with your little ones. 

Amid this struggle with our son, I woke one morning to the idea that we should do a Bible study. (That idea was from the Holy Spirit, no doubt!)

I immediately got online and did some digging. We have loved NotConsumed Bible Studies in the past so I decided to see what they had to offer- and I was not disappointed! 

Their “In the Garden” Bible Study is perfect for teaching children all about prayer. Not only why we should pray but all about the amazing privilege that prayer is! 

This particular study is full of memorization cards, stickers, thoughtful lessons, and most importantly a biblical approach to teaching our children to pray! 

Check out the In the Garden Bible Study here for yourself!  

two children doing a prayer Bible study, NotConsumed Bible study on prayer

3. Pray for Them

Let’s not forget the power of prayer ourselves!

Prayer changes things.

It changes hearts. Perspectives. Desires. 

If we believe prayer can change the course of disease, a broken life, or addiction- why in the world would we think it can’t change our children’s hearts? 

In fact, this may be one of the single best ways to change their hearts towards prayer! 

Pray for your little ones, Mama. 

Pray for their hearts and their relationship with God. 

Jesus loves us and He loves them. There is no greater use of your time than to spend it on your knees praying for your children to truly know Jesus! 

Laundry can wait. Dishes can wait. The to-do list can take a trip through the shredder because this is the most important work of our lives! 

4. Make Prayer Time Enjoyable

When we want to teach our children to love reading, we sprawl out across the floor with beautiful and intriguing stories. We sip hot chocolate or read under canopies and pillow forts. We make sure they associate books with a pleasurable experience, not a punishment or a chore. 

Prayer should be the same way. 

Gather around the table or even in the front yard.

Ask who has anything they want to pray for or who they think could use God’s touch today.

Maybe you talk about the prayer requests made in church or a loved one who needs prayer.

Ask them what they are thankful for and remind them to always turn back and say “Thank you God.” (You can use the parable of the 10 lepers to teach that as well! (Luke 17:11-19)

Make this time fun and something they look forward to. Tell them stories from your own life- things you have prayed for and how God answered. If we want our children to love praying, we need to show them prayer is a beautiful and enjoyable thing.

5. Avoid Correcting or Criticing 

As Mamas we can often fall into teaching mode. That’s not a bad thing, we are of course called to teach our children. But we are also fellow pilgrims with our children on this side of Heaven.

The most important thing is that they learn to take everything to Jesus, and sometimes that means taking things we aren’t so sure should go.

I was filling in for the teacher in our smallest class at church one night. My nephew sat at the end of the table and when I asked who wanted to lead us in prayer- his hand shot up. He bowed his curly little head and began like normal. 

He thanked Jesus for the day, for the food, and all of a sudden he starts telling this wild story about a turkey in the woods. If you have ever heard a hunter spin a tale about what they saw in the woods- this was the same thing. His eyes shot open, staring widely at his lap, and he rambled on and on and on about this turkey. 

I stifled a laugh and tried to keep my eyes shut. 

Suddenly he stopped. 

“Amen?” I asked. 

“Oh yeah- Amen!”

We may be tempted in these moments to ask our little ones to stay on point or not wander off into crazy tales. But I bet Jesus loved that prayer.

Truly, I do. 

You can almost hear the disciples saying, “No, no Jesus is too busy for this silly turkey story.” But Jesus says, Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

Prayer isn’t about how elegant and graceful we can sound. It isn’t about being a great conversationalist or sounding godly to anyone who may be listening. In fact, the Bible actually warns against this: 

“And when you pray, you shall not be like the [b]hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men.” [7] “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.“Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” 

Matthew 6:7-8

There is no certain ‘right way’ to pray. Simple prayers move mountains. A quick prayer can calm a storm. It isn’t about using the ‘right words’ or ‘big words’ or impressing those listening nearby.

Our children don’t need us to correct them or give them the words. They need us to model a relationship with our Savior and a heart that desires to tell Him everything- even though He already knows it! 

6. Get Them Around People Who Pray 

Ken Coleman penned a book called, The Proximity Principle. The idea behind this book is to surround yourself with people like whom you want to become. 

So if you want to be successful in business, surround yourself with people who are successful businessmen. 

If you want to be a great Mother, invite older, wiser Mothers into your life who can offer advice or help along the way. 

And if you want your child to have a beautiful prayer life, surround them with people who pray. 

Surround them with people who are always eager to testify of the goodness of God. Those who speak about Jesus in personal and knowledgeable ways. 

If your child finds a best friend or a mentor to look up to who speaks highly of and enjoys praying, they will start to develop that as well!

(*This also should speak to the influence people have over our children and making sure they are surrounded by uplifting and good people!)

7. Sing it, Say it, Act it Out!

This is more for our little bitty prayer warriors who are just starting to learn to pray. 

Before my older children said their own prayers around the dinner table, they sang them. 

Singing, repeating, rhyming, or doing the motions to a prayer is a great way to intrigue our smallest little learners. My three-year-olds usually know the Lord’s prayer by heart simply from hearing it repeated so many times in church! (Children are far better at memorizing than adults are.)

The habit of prayer begins at an early age with simple bedtime prayers or offering thanks before meals. Even saying “Thank you Jesus for our bite-bites” is forming a habit of prayer!

Here is a simple prayer your children can learn to sing! Learn them too and join in on the fun Mama!

8. Memorize Scripture 

Memorizing Scripture is a great way to teach our little ones not only how to pray but also why we should pray! 

I want my children to learn to think Biblically about everything. The only way they can do that is to know what the Bible says. 

When we discipline rather than saying “Because I said so,” or “I’m your Mother so you must listen to me,” we can give Biblical reasons for why!

One of the first Scriptures my children memorized in homeschool was Ephesians 6:1-3: 

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”

Ephesians 6:1-3

When we are struggling to listen and obey, I ask them to tell me this verse, and it almost always helps them to slow down and think about their actions. 

The Bible has a lot to say about prayer and memorizing some of these verses may help them to dive deeper into their prayer life and relationship with Jesus! 

Here are just a few examples!

Matthew 6:9-13 (The Lord’s Prayer)

 Philippians 4:6-7

James 5:13-18

Check out these adorable Prayer Scripture cards from NotConsumed! There are 52 cards that your family can memorize and apply to your life each week. They also double as postcards that can be shared with family and friends to let them know you are praying for them!

a little girl reading scripture on a card, NotConsumed prayer cards

 9. Reward Them for Praying

I am a big fan of rewards in my own life. I often encourage myself that if I will just organize this closet or clean out the fridge then I can have a cup of coffee. It is a small thing, but it motivates me. 

Listen, I know that praying is a reward in itself! But if it helps them to pray more, then why not reward them? 

It may simply be by praising them, especially if words of affirmation are your child’s love language. 

It may be by reading them an extra book or giving them a fistful of chocolate chips. (Choppa chips, as my two-year-old says.) 

You know your children best so you know the best way to reward them!

Make a family prayer time where you discuss world events, big emotions. or prayer requests. Jot them down on a sticky note or poster board and pray as a family! Invite your little ones to lead or to pray first and then reward and encourage them for praying in their own words!

Our Conversations with Our Children Matter!

If we want our children to have a life of prayer and a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father- and I would imagine if you have read this far then you certainly do-then our conversations with them matter! 

It comes as no surprise to us that many project their relationship with their parents or other extended family members onto God. This makes sense in a lot of ways. If you felt that your parents never listened to you, wouldn’t that make you feel that God wasn’t listening also? 

Or if your parents deemed conversations with you unfruitful or uninteresting, wouldn’t that mark how you view yourself in conversations? Including conversations with God?

How we talk to and interact with our children matters. 

How we cultivate and teach their tender hearts can help make them more receptive or less receptive to God. 

Mamas, listen to them.

We are called to model their child-like faith.

We are called to teach them, but I find all the time that they are teaching me also. 

It is a great privilege to be able to converse with the Holy and righteous God, And it is an honor to be able to teach our young children about the practice of prayer. 

Keep a prayer journal. Write down how God answers. There are millions of different kinds of prayers and there are millions of creative ways to teach your child to have a full, rich, and all-consuming prayer life.

Let God lead you, and remember all you have to do is bring your basket. All we need is our daily bread- our portion for that day and God will supply the rest. He knows what we have need of before we even ask. He knows our hearts. And He is for us and not against us. Lean on Him and teach your children to also. 

After all, this world needs a generation of prayer warriors!

Happy Praying! 

Happy Aiming! 

-Ashley

Hey Mamas, are you aiming to raise little ones who love Jesus with all their hearts for all their lives? Then, let’s do Motherhood together! Subscribe and get our free Bible study ebook on Proverbs 31 sent directly to your inbox!

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