Pass It On – Raising Children Who Pray

pass-it-on-raising-children-who-pray This article was originally posted on The Disciple-Maker Blog

THE GREATEST LEGACY I can pass down to my children is a passion to know and follow our Lord Jesus Christ. In our family, I’ve found 10 practical ways to incorporate prayer in our daily life and routine. I hope you will find them to be helpful and encouraging in equipping your own children for a lifestyle of prayer.

  1.  Prayer in the morning.  Psalm 5:3 says, “In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice;  in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” Sometimes my children will come and snuggle in bed with me before we begin our day. During these treasured moments, I enjoy having the children join me in greeting the Lord in prayer and committing the day to Him.
  2.  Prayer at mealtime.  “Jesus took bread, [and] gave thanks” (Mk. 14:22). I encourage my children to thank the Lord for the life-sustaining food He provides for us. We usually hold hands when we pray at mealtime as a symbol of our need for each other, as well as our need for the Lord.
  3.  Prayer when leaving one another.  The writer of Hebrews left the persecuted Christians with this blessing: “May the God of peace . . . equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him,” (Heb. 13:20-21). Following this example from Scripture, I try to pray with my children before I drop them off for school in the morning. I pray aloud in the car, asking God to protect them, to give them a desire to learn, and to help them with anything else that may be concerning them, such as an upcoming test or a struggling friendship. When I forget, one of my children always reminds me. I believe they have come to rely on the peace and provision God gives while we’re apart.
  4.  Prayer after correction.  First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” When my children choose to behave in foolish ways that require discipline or consequences, I encourage them to seek the Lord in prayer with me afterward. I help them to pray words of confession and repentance, hoping to establish in their hearts the eternal importance of seeking His forgiveness on a regular basis.
  5.  Prayer in thanksgiving.  “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18). I encourage my children to name their blessings and offer thanks to God for them regularly. For example, one morning on the way to school we prayed about a struggle my oldest child was having with a boy in his class. When I picked my son up after school, he told me how the Lord had responded to our prayer. So on the way home, we thanked God for an answer that was both visible and faith-building.
  6.  Prayer during trials.  I treasure the invitation of Heb. 4:16: “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” One day when my son was a first grader, my carpool partner forgot to pick him up from school. I raced to the school and found my son frightened, yet self-controlled. I asked him what he did during the 20 minutes that he had been waiting alone in front of the school. He responded, “I prayed to Jesus, asking Him to send you to get me, and He answered my prayer.” God used that moment to encourage me to continue teaching my children to call upon Him in their times of need.
  7.  Prayer before reading God’s Word.  Jesus said in Jn. 14:26, “The Holy Spirit . . . will teach you all things.” I have taught my children that apart from the Holy Spirit we cannot fully comprehend God’s Word. Before we read the Bible together, we ask the Holy Spirit to teach us new things and to give us wisdom and understanding.
  8.  Prayer for others.  “Pray . . . with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Eph. 6:18). My children enjoy praying for family members, teachers, classmates, and friends who may need healing, protection, wisdom, or salvation. They seem to soak in the significance of God’s power when they know and love the ones for whom we pray.
  9.  Prayer for healing and restoration.  “The people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them” (Lk. 4:40). Following Jesus’ example, we often lay our hands upon loved ones who need God’s healing. One summer afternoon, my daughter ran screaming from our backyard with a huge splinter in the base of her thumbnail. My hands were unsteady as I attempted to remove the splinter, so I stopped, covered her thumb with my hand, and told God aloud that we needed Him. I asked Him to steady my hands, comfort my daughter, and help us to remove the splinter. When I removed my hand, the splinter was not only gone, but there was no trace of an opening in her skin and the swelling and redness had disappeared!
  10.  Prayer at night.  Jesus “spent the night praying to God” (Lk. 6:12), perhaps because it was the best way to reflect on the day and prepare for another one. I treasure the sweet conversations and prayer times I share with my children when I tuck them into bed at night. This is when they seem most ready to let me see what’s really in their hearts. So at bedtime I help them offer praises and thanksgiving to God, confess their sin, and lay their concerns before Him.

I pray, for both your children and mine, that the Lord will draw them near to Him and that they will experience an abiding relationship with Jesus Christ through unceasing prayer. There is no greater legacy we can give them than this.

—by Karen Hawkins

Used by permission of Pray! Copyright © May/June 2006, The Navigators. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved.