Today we are going to chat about prayer and kids. I think this is dicey because anytime we talk about faith and children, there can be the perception that the information-giver (in this case, me) is extra pious, or thinks herself extra pious. So, in order to combat any of that nonsense I offer the following:
- Direct quote from my five-year-old last week: “Mom, if you love us why do you use a mean voice sometimes?”
- Sometimes, I don’t like my kids behavior. And, sometimes I kinda’ don’t like them. (Insert obligatory “but I always love them.”)
- I suffered from post-partum depression largely because my hyper-independent 32-year-old self was shell-shocked by the work of motherhood.
- I am not a “natural” at being a Mom. Sure would love to be, but that’s not who I am. I love my kids so much, but I have to work pretty hard at it.
Okay, now that we’ve established my Mom-halo is as off-kilter and tattered as everyone else’s, I’m going to offer you some “types” of prayer for these precious kiddos of ours. Each of these yields it’s own valuable fruit, for us and for them, and sets us up to support our kids in different ways. Here we go.
5 Types of Prayer for Our Children
Praying About Our Kids: Praying about our kids is exactly what it sounds like. It’s your personal prayer life that may have started before they were born and continues now as they encounter struggles, disappointments, hopes, and dreams. It is the intercession we offer as we think about them in the middle of the night, as they walk away to school, and when they try new things. It calls to God on their behalf to love, protect, change, and guide them — and us.
Praying in Front of Our Kids: This is “example” praying. The prayer is sincere, but, it also serves as a way to help kids understand what prayer sounds like. As a person who did not hear personal prayer until I was sixteen, I remember learning “how” to pray by listening to other people talk to God. This is where kids learn that prayer is not just for dinner and bedtime “with eyes closed and heads bowed.” Prayer is for everywhere, anytime. So, when we bust out praise for the beautiful tree or a prayer for the accident we just passed, they learn they can too.
Praying With Our Kids: This is a newer one for me, brought about by a recent playdate. My five-year-old was looking forward to a one-on-one with her bestie. When we arrived, said bestie was with another friend, inciting great disappointment. I tried all my best psycholology about including new friends, which failed. She was “too scared.” I took a risk and asked if I could pray for her. I held those sweet little hands next to the monkey bars and asked God if He would be with her as she went to be with new people. A short time later she courageously marched over. While this will certainly not always work, we must remember it is our job to work ourselves out of a job. I sure as heck want her relying on Jesus more than me as she gets older, so we may as well practice now.
Kids Independent Prayer: This one creates safe spaces for kids to practice prayer because, like anything else, that’s how they get comfortable with it. Both public and private, it’s a no pressure situation, but an oft-invited one. Privately they are encouraged to “check in with Jesus” in the mornings. We don’t check on them, we just encourage a morning moment. Dinner is floated as “who wants to pray tonight” with enough silence to allow them to jump in if they want to. My son’s job is to pray as we leave on trips. He has full reign to decline but the predictability of this “role” has given him a safe space to practice praying outloud (when we aren’t looking at him) and he has come to own it over the years. The goal is to create low-stakes opportunities they will capitalize on when they feel ready.
Praying Their Requests: Last one, short and sweet. This is when we start asking them how we can pray for them. It’s a way to show we care about what they care about, rather than deciding for ourselves what is important. And, whatever they tell us to pray for is a valuable window into what worries, fears, hopes, and dreams they have. It’s a cool way to get to know your kid’s inner world, and pray for them in ways that matter to them.
Well, there you go folks. From an imperfect Mom who prays for God to “fill in the gaps” of the stuff I mess up, these are the tips that are working best for us. I hope adding one or two of these angles into your own prayer adventure with your kids is a great blessing. Happy praying!