I find that many parents are at a loss on how to pray with their children. Our goal should not be simply intercessory prayer—to pray for our children. Instead it is to help pray with them and help them connect to the Lord.
Here are four ways to pray with your child:
I have memorized this prayer in Ephesians 3:16-19:
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
I paraphrase it somewhat, but the idea is to pray that my children would be firmly grounded and rooted in God’s love and that He would strengthen them in their innermost being. What a beautiful vision of what we want for our children—that every deficit and void would be filled with God’s deep love. Make no mistake, there will be voids! Thankfully, though, we serve a God who stands in the gap where we have failed.
“God, I pray that You would ground and root Elly deep in your love. Fill every void and deficit. We thank You for the gift of her life and the plans You have for her. Help her to know You and to know who You’ve created her to be.”
Get to the Root
There’s a great phrase in 1 Timothy 1:5: catharsis cardia, a “purging heart.” At the end of the day, as you put your children to bed, you can guide them through a prayer of “releasing and replacing.” Here, it’s okay for your children to engage their imaginations as they pray. One of the main goals of prayer is to get to a place of utter receptivity before the Lord. We do this a couple ways with our kids. We tell them to imagine their hearts as a garden and to ask Jesus to show them how it’s doing. We ask, “Are there any weeds that need to be uprooted?” and say, “Ask Jesus to show you the condition of your heart.” Our kids have seen tornadoes, dead trees, snakes, etc. These have represented fears, worry, rejection, and pride. Once they see something that needs to be dealt with, we ask Jesus to get rid of it and put something good in its place. It’s absolutely amazing to see how well kids connect to the Lord through prayer.
Release and Fill
I need to say a couple more things about the process of “releasing and replacing.” It’s important to model and teach healthy forgiveness. Each day, you can guide your children through the process of repenting and forgiving. Let them pray in their own words. “God, I pray that you would forgive me for…” After they’re done, remind them that God forgives our sins and ask them, “Can you receive God’s forgiveness?” Then allow them to pray in their own words something like this: “God, I forgive ________for __________.” You will need to give more guidance at the beginning, but they will catch on pretty quickly. “Help me to see them the way you see them.” If they need to forgive someone for something pretty serious, you can put your hand on their heart and pray, “God, please heal their heart and fill the void that has been left here.” We will ask them to imagine the pain going to the cross of Jesus and have them ask Jesus to give them a picture or word. Again, you’ll be amazed how well your kids will connect to the Lord.
Truth and Lies
Many times our children are buying into a lie that they are not even aware of. For instance, one of our daughters was struggling with self-confidence and becoming too self-absorbed. As we started to pray one night, I asked her to ask Jesus what lie she was believing about herself. Once she was able to see the lie, she was able to ask the Lord to help her see herself as He did. As you can imagine, it completely contradicted the thoughts that were leading to depression and insignificance. Her face lit up as she received God’s gift of identity. We want to make sure we cut all lies off at the pass and allow God to replace them with His truth. Life and death, blessing and cursing are always before us. We need to be attentive to our kids’ hearts and help them connect to the Lord, who is our giver, sustainer, and redeemer of life!
Any recommendations or questions about praying with children?