Prayer is a vital part of the Christian life. It draws us closer to God and reminds us of our dependence on Him. Yet prayer doesn’t come naturally to everyone. As parents we have a wonderful opportunity to guide our children toward a meaningful prayer life. Here are a few ways we can do that with intention.
Model it. Our children learn from what we do, not just what we say. So let’s model for them a life blessed by prayer. Pray together as a family at meals and bedtime, on the drive to school or as any need arises. Let your kids hear you asking others how you can pray for them—then allow them to join you when you follow through. Being a praying parent is the first step to raising a praying child.
Look for needs. The key to praying for others is to be aware of their needs. Prayer requests are all around us. We just need to open our eyes and see them! For example, if a classmate is crying, pray for her heart. If a church family is leaving on a mission trip, pray for their safety. If a friend is freaking out over her upcoming math test, pray that God would give her peace. By all means, ask people how you can pray for them—but remember we don’t need to be asked in order to pray.
Pray for “enemies.” Does your daughter struggle with a mean girl at school? Maybe she has a challenging relationship with a coach or sibling. Encourage your daughter to pray for the difficult people in her life. She can ask God to bless them and heal them from their heartache—which is likely the root of their mean behavior in the first place. Teach your daughter that we are called to pray for the kind and unkind alike. And God will bless us for our obedience.
Journal. If your daughter enjoys taking notes, give her a special journal for recording prayer requests. This will help her keep track of the many people she’s praying for, as well as provide a record of God’s answers to those prayers.
Create a schedule. Some families find it helps to develop a schedule for praying for others. For example, Monday—pray for family members. Tuesday—pray for friends. Wednesday—pray for teachers, pastors and youth group leaders. Thursday—pray for people who don’t know Jesus. And so on.
Pray with her. Finally, ask your daughter if you can join her in praying for other people. Ask her to share the needs she has identified, talk about them, and put your hearts together to lift those needs up to the Lord. She will gain confidence knowing you support her prayer life not just in theory but also in practice.
“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.” (1 Timothy 2:1)