With the launch party of my debut children’s book about prayer last weekend (The Bubble Who Would Not POP!), children and prayer have been on my mind all week. I think raising a man or woman of prayer is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child. I’m still working on it with my kiddos, but a few principles came to mind that I thought I might share with you.
If we can imprint these fundamental truths about prayer onto our children, it is a great start to equipping them for a life of prayer.
Truth #1 – God ALWAYS hears your prayer.
This principle is my favorite and something I address in my book. Isaiah 65:24 says, “Before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.” Isn’t that just the coolest?! If you want your child to grow into a person of prayer, this is step one . . . the most basic belief necessary to pray. God hears your prayer. Period.
In all of my favorite biblical stories about prayer, the heroes and heroines have one thing in common. When they pray, God hears them. Now, his answer might not be what they want . . . or they may have to wait to see how God is working. But, no matter the result, God hears them.
Truth #2 — You can talk to God about ANYTHING.
Remember in Genesis right after Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit? Scripture says God was walking in the garden in the cool of the day and called out for Adam. Looks to me like God would often hang out with his creations. God wants a relationship with us . . . and that means talking. Children should know that God wants time with them through prayer. If they see God as a loving Heavenly Father who wants to hear from them about what is going on in their lives, they will be open later to spending time in prayer about bigger issues.
Truth #3 — Timing is everything.
This is a hard one. I’m an adult and I like to see immediate results . . . so how can we blame children for wanting everything now? But to maintain a faithful life of prayer and faith, we must understand that God has a plan and an answer for our prayers in his own timing. And His timing is actually the best. Sharing Bible stories that emphasize that point can help children understand this principle. For example, God could have answered Daniel’s prayer for safety BEFORE he went into the lions’ den. But, what kind of awesome miracle would that have been? Waiting to give Daniel protection once he was among the lions made a memorable testament to God’s power for generations to follow. Our job is to keep praying and be patient. God will take care of the rest.
Truth #4 — Go for it!
Teaching children to be bold in prayer can be difficult in today’s culture where we are cautioned against going to the extreme on anything. But the truth is that God’s power has not diminished since Biblical times . . . maybe our faith has. I certainly don’t have the faith power I should, but I sure like to read about those who were giants of faith and bold in their prayers. Hannah prayed for a child when it seemed to be hopeless. Peter and John saw a crippled man walk and run after praying for him. Elijah prayed down fire from heaven . . . what?! If God can work these miracles through prayer, he can certainly meet our needs and give us peace, protection and guidance if we ask for it.
Truth #5 — God wants what’s best for you.
God loves you and your sweet baby. No question about that. And we all want what is best for those we love, right? If children understand that, they can be confident in their life and future. God knows the big picture and he can be trusted to work it all out for the best. When we pray, we can trust God to answer in his own timing and in our best interest. Consider the story of Joseph. No doubt, he wondered what was going on when his brothers turned on him, when he was sold into slavery, and when he was thrown into jail. But God had a greater plan, not just for Joseph but for his people. God loves your special child more than we can understand (John 3:16). If we weave this principle into the fabric of their faith, they will be OK no matter what the future holds.