“I’m not sure what I’m supposed to say.”
“I don’t think God really cares what’s going on in my life.”
“You don’t understand. My problem is just too big.”
“God would never be able to relate to what I’m going through.”
“I think there are certain verses I’m supposed to recite, I don’t know enough about God or the Bible to pray.”
These are just a few of the lines I’ve heard in conversations regarding prayer. It seems to be a theme – many adults and children believe there are expectations or rules when it comes to prayer, therefore, they are hesitant to pray at all. They are so consumed with following the rules or praying “right” that they aren’t sure if God will hear or answer them if they don’t.
So, here’s the question: “How do we teach kids to pray?” I think we start by throwing out the rulebook, and modeling meaningful, authentic prayer lives for kids. As with most spiritual disciplines, prayer is caught more than it’s taught. I’ve come to realize that small group leaders have an amazing opportunity to model prayer for children. We can show them at an early age that prayer is easy and that simple conversations with God are best. Prayers don’t have to involve fancy words or be a certain length, but are an opportunity to share with God whatever is on their heart at that moment.
Here are a couple of helpful tips for helping kids learn to pray:
- Encourage the children in your small group to talk to God just as they’d talk to anyone else, building on the truth that Jesus is their best friend, and they can trust Him no matter what. No prayer is too insignificant for God. God listens to all prayers. He is always there, willing and eager to listen to what we have to say. Anything is okay to talk to God about… even if that means singing their greatest rendition of the latest Justin Beiber song, just because they think He might want to hear. Let them know that they can pray anywhere – standing, kneeling, at the dinner table, on the playground after their feelings were hurt by a close friend – anywhere. God is always with them, and is always ready to listen.
- Make prayer a priority in your small group each week. It can be helpful to start a prayer journal for your small group. This gives you the opportunity to pray for your kids each week, and it also allows you to celebrate the prayers that have been answered. Celebrating answered prayer expands a child’s view of God and helps them to realize that God hears our prayers and He is BIG enough to handle whatever we are going through.
Prayer is foundational to having a meaningful relationship with God, and SGLs have the incredible opportunity to help create and expand a child’s view of God by modeling an authentic prayer life. So, throw out the rule book, and start simply talking to God!
What are some ways you have encouraged your few to pray?