My son Bradley was tucked away in the corner, Bible open, laptop out, typing feverishly—at least as feverishly as a nine-year-old can. I asked him what he was doing and he told me he was writing his own prayer.
He was taking passages he liked from the Psalms and weaving them together into a prayer all his own.
My son got the idea from watching my husband. When Luke prays with the kids, he often pulls out his Bible and personalizes the words of Scripture into a prayer which inspired my son to do the same.
A lot of parents pray with their kids, but how do we get our kids to really take ownership of their prayer habits?
It should go without saying we need to model prayer for our kids, but assuming we have made private prayer a priority for ourselves, and assuming we pray regularly with our kids, how do we help them put feet to their own prayers?
1. Set Up a Prayer Corner
Set aside an area of your home you designate as your son’s special prayer “corner.” Tell him this will be his special place to pray, where he can pray without interruption. This is wise for a number of reasons:
- Kids are concrete, and it is easy for prayer to feel “abstract.” Giving them a physical location will help them make prayer a priority.
- The corner will be a constant physical reminder of the importance your family places on prayer.
- Finding an out-of-the-way place to pray will help our easily-distracted sons to focus.
We are called to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17), but for our boys to learn to pray all of the time everywhere, they must first learn to pray some of the time somewhere.
2. Allow Him to Personalize His Prayer Corner
Suggest items he can put in in his prayer corner and then work with him to make it a special place. Give him some concrete ideas, but allow him to decide how it “looks”—you want him to own this project as much as possible. Take him shopping at the store or online to pick out the stuff he wants in his prayer corner you don’t own yet.
- His own Bible.
- A bulletin board for him to tack up things he’s praying for or Bible verses he is learning.
- A CD player for him to play Christian music he likes.
- An age-appropriate devotional.
- Pictures your son draws or colors that remind him of God.
- Photos of his friends and family he wants to pray for.
- Maps of the world to remind him to pray for other countries.
- A journal he can write in.
Allow him to choose how the prayer corner is laid out. Does he want a beanbag chair on the floor? Great. Does he want decorate the wall with Christian artwork of his making? Give him some sticky tack. Don’t take the fun out of it by being too restrictive. Just help him to create an undistracting environment: it should not be a place where his toys are within reach.
3. Teach Them to Follow Jesus’ Example
Jesus gave His disciples what is commonly called “The Lord’s Prayer” to teach them to pray (Matt. 6:9-13). While many kids have been taught to recite it, it just as important they understand what it means.
There are six petitions in the Lord’s Prayer, and we should take time to teach our kids about each one. The six petitions can be remembered using the acronym P.R.A.Y.E.R.
Praise – “Hallowed by thy name.” Praise God for who He is, and ask Him to make His name holy in the world.
Remake – “Thy kingdom come.” Ask God to remake this world into a place where people He is honored as the king.
Attitude – “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Ask God to change people’s attitudes so they obey Him.
Yummy – “Give us this day our daily bread.” Ask God to give you and your family the things you need and enjoy.
Expose Sin – “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” Ask God to expose and forgive your sin.
Rescue – “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Ask God to rescue you from your sinful tendencies.
Download the P.R.A.Y.E.R. Model poster to put in your home, perhaps in your son’s prayer corner.
Audio Devotions For Pre-Readers
Devotions and Bibles For Readers
- Bible Reading Plan for Kids
- God’s Mighty Acts in Creation
- God’s Mighty Acts in Salvation
- Day by Day Begin to Read Bible (we use this Bible with our kids when they first begin to read independently)
- Day by Day Kid’s Bible: The Bible for Young Readers (we use this Bible with our kids once they’re more confident readers)
Resources for Parents and Families
- 10 Strategies for Creating a More Meaningful Prayer Life
- 6 Essential Steps to Teaching Your Kids to Pray Biblically
- Praying with Paul: A Family Prayer Guide (can be used with families or individually with older kids and adults)
- Why Do We Say Amen? 4 Truths to Teach Your Children