Teaching Your Child to Pray: A Fun, Easy and Natural Way

Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. Proverbs 22:6

This is such a well known bible verse for parents, and what it says really does shape us (talking about all Christian parents here) as Christian parents. It's one of those verses that we know, that we quote and we supposedly live by, but have we really thought about what it means? How do we use this verse in our day to day with our children? I for one, being a mother for only a year and eight months, haven't really given it a lot of thought.

Before Emily was even a mustard seed in my tummy, I know that I wanted my child to grow up in a healthy church environment, close to family. It was so important to me that we even moved churches to be with family. It was my understanding that this would ensure that she was brought up well, knowing Jesus and living a good 'Christian' life.

But when that didn't quite work out according to plan, and we found ourself apart from church and family, I think I realised that the responsibility lies at home. With me, and with my husband. We are responsible for teaching her about the love of Jesus, and how He is a part of our everyday. It's not the responsibility of our church leaders.

Thankfully we are part of a wonderful church, with amazing children's ministry. But Emily didn't learn to pray at church, she learnt at home, with her family ❤ And so now I feel the weight of this verse, with a little more experience and understanding. I understand our responsibility even more and can see how the path we start Emily on, starting at the tender age of just 20 months will impact her adult life.

My baby has started her prayer journey, and I pray that she never stops journeying!

How We Taught Our Toddler to Pray

Honestly, I didn't think we would be doing this until much later in life. But Emily is SUCH a chatter box and is picking up everything so, so quickly. She's started singing along to songs she knows very well and putting together little sentences, so one day we thought we could start adding a little prayer time to our evening routine.

On day one, we simply encouraged Emily to repeat some sentences after us. We had a simple prayer which went like this:

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank you for mummy, thank you for daddy.
Jesus' name, Amen!

She so enjoyed the activity of repeating everything we had said, so every night we would add a little more!

Not too long later, she would ask to pray spontaneously at random times in the say or would say little prayers to herself. She started deciding on her own what she wanted to say 'thank you' for until she was just pretty much praying all by herself.

Now, I know that this may just be a little game to her at this age, or something similar to singing 'Old MacDonald' to herself. But I've got to believe there is a little something more special there for her, and I am sure Jesus loves every time she prays just the same!

A few days ago, whilst I was taking some time in the morning, after breakfast, to read my bible and pray, Emily decided she wanted to join me and we had a little pray together. Emily said her prayer all by herself and it went a little like this:

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank you for mummy, thank you for breakfast, thank you for bunnies, thank you for drawing...
Jesus' name, Amen!

The Teaspoon Prayer

If you have ever followed a recipe, you will recognise the short hand for tea spoon - tsp.

When I was child, I remember being taught at school how to pray (I am sure I was also taught at home before that, but I can't remember that far back!) And the way we were taught to think of it was like a teaspoon! Or, rather tsp. Thank you - Sorry - Please

We were taught to start with gratitude, then to say sorry or repent, and then to ask God for what you needed. This has stayed with me all my life, and I still tend to pray in that way even now as an adult. So this is probably why I subconsciously started with 'thank you' when I taught Emily.

As she grows in understanding, we will add new elements to prayer time. I think next, we will pray for other people:

Please help daddy to have a nice day

Please help mummy to sleep well

Please help Daniel at school

And when we feel she understands what 'sorry' means we can start to add elements of that. I know it's not the same order, but I think understanding is more important. And when she is old enough, I am sure I will teach her the concept of tsp!

Prayer Songs

One of the things that definitely got us on track to praying with Emily was a song we learn't at Playgroup. It's a Christian playgroup and every time, they say a prayer.

Before the prayer, they do a cute little song that get's the children in the zone and is based on this simple children's song, except the words are something like:

Open, Close them

Open, Close them
Give a little clap!

Open, Close them

Open, Close them
Put them in your lap!

Roll them, Roll them

Roll them, Roll them
Roll them round this way!

Wave them, Wave them

Wave them, Wave them
Fold your hands to pray!

Emily knew all the actions to this and LOVED IT! So we started doing it at home and Sam and I would just say a little prayer. I think it really did set the stage for praying and was just good fun. It really engaged Emily and got her listening and sitting still. So maybe find some great little songs like this to get you started!

So now we have a praying toddler, who goes through stages of loving it and not being interested. Her attention span is not huge, and her moods and whims are totally in control! But I feel like this is a wonderful start. Now she knows she can pray, she knows there is someone there to talk to! It is something we will nurture and encourage as she grows up, and I believe it is the start of a beautiful relationship with Jesus ❤

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