Teaching Kids to Pray Series: Modeling Prayer
Children are like sponges; they soak in all the things they see around them and those things affect them. We’ve all seen children imitate. Little girls put on their mother’s shoes, little boys use their daddy’s tools, and sometimes vice versa. From very early on babies start mimicking smiles and facial expressions. Children may not understand all they are doing or imitating at the time, they just do it. The older the child gets however, the more they associate actions, facial expressions, and words with responses. Some of those responses are good, while others are not.
We are teaching children all the time, regardless if we mean to on purpose. When children watch people around them respond to others with anger they may respond the same way to a sibling who has their book. If they hear an adult tell a white lie to get them out of a situation, they will learn that lying is ok. If they hear a parent talk about prayer but never pray, they will learn that prayer is really not important at all, and integrity and honesty is only something you appear to show in public. The saying is true, “Actions speak louder than words.”
Let children and youth see and hear you pray. You can pray first, and have them pray after you. It will not hurt anything if they repeat the same type of prayer you pray, as we learned in our previous lesson in this series. You don’t have to be skilled or professional yourself. They don’t need a college professor model, they need simplicity that they can replicate.
Let them see you pray as often as possible, including at home, church, in a vehicle, in a class, or any other place. If God is everywhere then they need to know that they can talk to Him everywhere. Although having designated prayer areas can be good to help build a habit of prayer, it shouldn’t be confined. God wants us to experience Him everywhere, anywhere, and at any time.
The more they see prayer modeled, the more natural it will become to them. Prayer is not just something that we do, or a meeting that we go to; prayer should be a part of the life we live all day long.
World Network of Prayer – Kids & Youth Prayer Coordinator
Check back soon with us on our next topic in this series: Being Simple