Guess what? Your kids already have a relationship with God. You, as mom, have many tools to help that relationship grow, including daily prayer with your kids. Prayer time with your kids is so important. Not only does it foster a closeness to God, but it establishes a pattern of prayer that becomes natural as your children grow into adulthood.
You may be thinking: “I’m not even sure how to pray myself, much less teach my kids.”
I’m here to the rescue with a simple 4-step prayer formula that I’ve found super successful and very easy! Not only that, these steps are a great foundation for teaching your kids to pray on their own.
Keep in mind that ANY effort towards prayer is both worthy and admirable. Anything is better than nothing!
First, be aware that any Christian denomination can tailor this formula to suit their needs. Second, remember to keep it pretty short and sweet. We want this to be a routine, but not a punishing one. Here is my formula:
I like to begin with a Scripture verse. For your littlest children, Psalm 100 is always an excellent choice.
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!Psalm 100: 2
Ask the kids, “what did you hear?” or “what did you notice?”
Simply acknowledge their response. There are no right or wrong answers here.
For my older kids, (ages 9 and up) I like to read the Gospel. I have my own daily prayer habit of reading the Catholic mass readings, through the publication Magnificat. So I simply read the gospel reading of the day to my kiddos, or sometimes one of the other readings. Then we take a moment to reflect with the same questions, “what did you hear?” or “what did you notice?”
Don’t forget that the Bible is the living word of God. All you need to do is crack it open and let the Holy Spirit help you choose a verse.
It can be helpful to allow your child to chose a prayer card to discuss or place in your prayer space. Have a box or basket of prayer cards available for this. Even if your child isn’t reading yet, prayer cards can be used to build the child’s faith vocabulary and prayer language. Keep it simple for the littlest kids. Some options:
An excellent resource for creating your own prayer cards can be found here.
I mentioned Psalm 100 earlier and, yay, I created a printable prayer card for you!
Or click here to download a printable Prayer Card of Psalm 100!
2. Memory Prayer
Now we come to Memory Prayer. This is where we begin to help our kids memorize standard prayers of our faith. Once again we can look to our Bible and pray what Jesus gave us: the Our Father. Or perhaps you have a favorite memory verse you’d like your kids to learn. The point is, pick anything and in a few days (or weeks) your kids will likely have it memorized.
Our family is Catholic so sometimes we’ll pray a decade of the rosary. During Lent, for example, we often pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. We also pray an Act of Spiritual Communion and sometimes a Holy Spirit prayer. It sounds like a lot, but we’re honestly done in 10 minutes! I keep little cards with these prayers along with each child’s rosary in small individual pouches, so it’s quick and easy to get ready to roll on these prayers.
3. Intentions and Praise
Now it’s time for a little freestyle prayer. Don’t be afraid, this is easier than you think! Go around the table ask for kids’ prayer intentions. See if anyone has something they’d like to pray about or that they want to thank God for in praise. Some simple prompts are:
“Who would you like to prayer for today?”
“What would you like to say to God?”
“What showed you God’s goodness today?”
I don’t force this. Anyone is free to respond or not respond. I feel like it’s important to give time and space for each child’s confidence to naturally evolve here.
4. Spiritual Extras
Last but not least: Spiritual Extras! This category is not a typically “everyday” one for us. However, I think it’s important to keep in mind opportunities to present and discuss any upcoming seasonal events (i.e. Easter or Christmas) and/or any faith-based traditions specific to your family. As Catholics, I will occasionally discuss the saint of the day or parts of the mass.
Making It a Habit
I’ll leave you with a few last words about how to make prayer time a habit by considering timing and location ahead of time. I have 4 kids of varying ages and schedules so a morning prayer time never was workable. And now that I’m in my 40’s, I’m legit too tired at night to enforce much of anything after 7pm. (Which is why my husband handles bedtime!)
So, for a time, 3pm-4pm worked perfectly for us. We already always had a snack around 3pm or so, and never underestimate the power of food as an incentive to kids! Now that our kids are getting older and more involved in after school activities, 7pm is the right time for us. You can be flexible with this, and don’t get too concerned if you must skip a day here and there. Habits are still being created!
In terms of location, it is helpful to have a routine gathering space. Whatever is comfortable for your family will work! You may also consider creating a family prayer space or home altar area. This could be simply a small table anywhere in the house. The kids can gather around it, seated on the floor. Ours is right next to the dining table, so we sit there. Some items you might consider for your prayer space:
- Bible stand
- Sacred art
- Prayer cards (with stand)
- Religious statues
- Prayer table cloth (decorative or liturgical colors/seasonal themes)
Do you have any questions for me about praying with your kids or teaching kids to pray? I’d love to hear from you below in the comments!
Mom, need more ideas for adding prayer into your busy day? Check out 10 Easy Way for Moms to Pray Intentionally, with free printable guide sheet!