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"Dear parents, teach your children to pray. Pray with them." - Pope Francis
It is important for every child to learn how to pray. Even though you may not think you are qualified to be an authority, as parent or guardian, you are your child's primary teacher! What they learn from you is what they will remember the most as they are growing in their faith. Children mainly learn to pray by watching and copying their parents, siblings, relatives, and others in church.
"Teaching Your Child to Pray"
There is no wrong way to pray.
The focus isn't so much “saying our prayers” as it is “talking with Jesus.” So beyond memorizing prayers, let your child know that they can speak to Jesus as a friend. Let them know that they can tell him anything: silly things that happened that day, things they are scared of, what they hope for, people they are worried about, etc. Jesus is interested in all of them. (Just as he is interested in anything you want to tell him.)
Invite your child to pray with you, but let them know he or she can pray whenever they want to by themselves. You might suggest they pray quietly in their minds after you tuck them in bed at night, after they wake up in the morning, while they are walking to or from school alone, or riding to soccer practice, etc.
Don't ask your child to do something which you aren't doing yourself.
You don't have to make a big show of it, but even occasionally mentioning something you have prayed for is a great way to witness to them. For example, when they have finished telling you about something good that happened to them at school you might be able to say “Wonderful! I prayed last night that you would have a good school day today!”
If you know they are worried or scared about something, you can offer to pray for them or with them about it. Saying something as simple as “Jesus, help Jane to be brave at the dentist tomorrow even though she is scared about getting her tooth pulled out” can be consoling for her.
Types of Prayer
Click the buttons below to learn how to use these different kinds of prayer in your home.
Regular household prayer is a great model.
Try praying before meals, in times of crisis, at bedtime, in the car, with the Bible, or after a good thing happens. Let them see that praying can be natural and informal – it doesn't have to be intimidating and they don't have to worry about doing it “the right way.”
Jesus knows the good intentions in our heart and hears us regardless of how sophisticated our words are. Weave prayer into your daily life.
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