That shiny purple birthstone, set in a ring to fit my six-year-old finger, was my most prized possession. That’s why I dreaded telling my mom I had lost it. Cartwheels in the grass had given way to utter panic as I realized the ring wasn’t on my finger anymore. After I confessed what had happened, my mother uttered four words that impacted my spiritual journey for the rest of my life: “Let’s pray about it.”
“When you pray, I want you to share everything with Me: your joys and heartaches, your struggles and triumphs, your worries and questions. I am you best Friend—pour out your heart to Me.”
Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions for Kids,
My husband and I often talk about the goals and desires we have for our kids. Like everyone around us, we’re neck-deep in sports and academics and service. But when it’s all said and done, our primary goal is that all four of our kids know God.
And certainly, prayer is the pathway to knowing God.
So how do we lead our kids to spend time with God? Here are six tips to help your kids develop of habit of talking with Him:
1. Encourage them to find a hideout.
Whether it’s behind a curtain, in a guest room closet or a special nook, have your kids spend five minutes in their special place every day, just talking to God. Teach them to pull away from the distractions around them and simply be with Jesus.
2. Incorporate prayer into things you’re already doing.
Pray when you and your kids are alone together, like when you drive to soccer practice, eat dinner, tuck them into bed or take a walk.
3. Pray spontaneously.
In my family growing up, stopping to pray for something never felt awkward or uncomfortable because my parents modeled this for us often. Show your kids that there’s never a wrong time to talk to God.
4. Pray together as a family.
Sometimes before everyone heads to bed, our family sits in a circle and we each share a prayer request for the week. Then we’ll say, “Everyone pray for the person on your right.” Not only are the kids praying for their siblings, they’re hearing their siblings pray over them.
5. Teach your kids to talk to God when you’re not around.
When one of your kids is struggling or going through a rough patch at school, remind them to talk to God about it throughout the day. Then, show them how to recognize Him! You might say, “When you have that feeling deep inside that everything is going to be okay, that’s the Holy Spirit giving you peace!” Another idea: We often tell our kids as we’re leaving their bedrooms at night, “Let your last thoughts and words be to Jesus!”
6. Get help!
In Luke 11, we find Jesus once again praying in an isolated place. Upon returning to his disciples, one of them said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” While it’s true that prayer is simply talking to God, we see from this passage that prayer is also learned. Purchase a book or prayer guide for kids that can help them navigate the principles of prayer found in Scripture.
I wrote I Can Learn to Pray to help kids know God more. In this 52-week devotional, we dive into Wow prayers, I’m Sorry prayers, Thank you prayers and Help prayers. We learn what it means to “be still” and listen to God, and we examine the prayers Jesus prayed in the gospels. Kids are given simple assignments throughout the week, in hopes of providing multiple opportunities for them to connect with God through prayer.
The day I lost my birthstone ring, I walked back to the yard where I’d frantically searched for it. And right there, my mom and I knelt down as I offered up a prayer. Decades later, I remember opening my eyes with the sunlight on my back and instantly seeing that purple stone shimmering at my feet. And through the rest of my childhood years I knew this truth: This great big God—Maker of heaven and earth—Keeper of the stars —He sees me. He cares about what I care about, and He hears me when I call.
And that is the faith of a child.
My mom didn’t have to unpack theology on prayer or tell me exactly what to say to God. She merely said, “Let’s pray.” It was prayer made simple. And for the first time in my life, I tangibly felt the love of God and began my lifelong journey of knowing Him.
Holly Shivers is the author of I Can Learn the Bible and I Can Learn to Pray. Holly has served as a staff wife for over a decade at Prestonwood Baptist Church, where she stays involved in women’s and children’s ministries. She received her Master’s degree in counseling and enjoys contributing to various writing projects and ministry blogs, but is most passionate about writing to kids. Some of her favorite things are Dr. Pepper, rainy days, family time, and especially those Dallas Cowboys! Holly lives in Texas with her husband and four kids.