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Parental Guidance Requested Lesson 2 - Praying with Our Children

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Release Date: 07/07/2020

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Key points from today:

  1. Model prayer for them
  2. Listen; ask open-ended questions, and use words to help them express their feelings and the situation.
  3. Pray in the moment
  4. Let them share their heart with you; don’t discount their feelings but affirm them
  5. Try conversational prayer
  6. Pray using Bible verses
  7. Minister to them through your prayer
  8. Use appropriate language, and show your true relationship with God.
  9. Make a prayer list that works for both of you, and keep track of answers
  10. Check your attitude

Treasury of Bedtime Prayers
Max and Denalyn Lucado


Prayer Inspiration for Children
Revelino and Ramata Guevara

Welcome to parental guidance requested from Books that Spark. These 12 mini-lessons are based on a workshop I offer for parents and teachers who want to make story time and discipleship come alive for their children. Today, we will be discussing, praying with your children. Today I want to talk about prayer and there are many books out there about how to pray for your children. However, what I want to talk about is praying with our children. It is important as we disciple them as we teach them and as we lead them, that we teach them how to pray and to pray with them and to model that for them. Therefore, number one in this process is to model prayer for them. To start with prayer before we pray with them. However, we will prepare our hearts as well. So that when we come to prayer, we have the right frame of mind that we have been in the presence of God; they can sense that when we pray with them. Therefore, that is the first place to start. Any time we're discipling anybody we need to start with our hearts and where are we are in our walk with God. For our discipleship to be effective, we need to be authentic, and we need to be living what we're teaching.

That is number one: to model prayer for them, let them see us pray, let them see that prayer is important to us. Then we should prepare our hearts, and ask God to give us wisdom, as we are teaching and discipling our kids.

Then second: we want to listen. Sometimes when a child starts to share something with us, we are tempted to want to hurry through. We are tempted to jump to conclusions of what we think they are saying when we need to listen and hear what they are actually saying. This is because sometimes it may be different from what we first thought they were saying.

So, we want to ask questions, especially open-ended questions so that they can express more clearly, what they want to pray about. If we are not quite understanding what the problem is, or what is really going on. If they are complaining about somebody and in reality, they have done something wrong. Alternatively, if something bad is happening and they are not expressing all of that, then we need to be sure that we understand and that we can find the underlying cause of whatever is going on and carry that to the Lord. What the real problem is as much as possible.

We also need to help them learn how to express their feelings. They may not have the words to tell us what is going on. What it is they are feeling. Therefore, if we can help them express their feelings, we do not want to put our feelings upon them. We do not want to, you know, jump to conclusions again, but maybe help them see what is going on.

For example, we could ask, are you saying you are angry, or are you saying your feelings are hurt? You sound angry, but it seems that you are hurt by what they did more than you feel angry. What do you think? Are you angrier, hurt, disappointed, or is something making you feel afraid? This is because sometimes our anger is masking a whole lot of other things going on. Therefore, maybe we can help them rather explore what their feelings are and what is going on so that we can truly pray for them.

Number three: pray at that moment. There are two reasons for this number one; we pray with them right then to show them we truly care about what they have just requested prayer for. We also will not forget to pray about it because we have just prayed with them. I hope that we will continue to pray about it, but at least we have prayed right then with them. Thirdly, it shows them that prayer is a priority. That it is more important than anything else we are doing. If we are in the middle of cooking dinner, we are in the middle of telling them it is time for bed. Prayer is more important than all those things. And so, in addition to making times for prayer, like before meals or at bedtime or during devotionals or Bible study or on Sundays, whenever else we have time that we pray. We want to make every prayer a priority. Therefore, if there is a request at the moment, we want to pray with them. We model that for our kids all the time, we have people come up and tell us something and want prayer for something and we say, well, can I pray for you now? Moreover, we will pray over the phone. We'll pray in person, but we always take that moment to pray right then because right then their heart is hurting, and they need to know that this has been lifted to God. Therefore, in addition to a showing, it is a priority in that, we want to make sure that we pray about it, but in that, we show them that prayer takes precedence over everything else. In addition, we value prayer very highly.

Number four: let them share their hearts with God, be patient, encourage them that they are just talking to God as they would talk to a friend. So, encourage them to voice their prayers as well and tell them just to share what they shared with us, but to share it with God. It demystifies prayer. I think that sometimes prayer can become a mystical experience. We become superstitious and we make prayer what it was never meant to be when we have that attitude. We are praying to our loving heavenly father. He is a person. He is real, and we are having a conversation with him and he is speaking back to our hearts as we pray; it needs to be real.

Moreover, it needs to be a safe place and not somewhere that we have to worry that we are saying things exactly right. God's will, will prevail. Therefore, we need to acknowledge that even though we may be asking for God to heal someone, ultimate true healing comes when we see him face to face and there is no more disease and no more pain and no more tears. The ultimate healing is what we call death here on earth. Therefore, we need to help our kids understand that as well, that we want God's will ultimately.

In addition, yes, we want grandma to be healed and for her to get out of the hospital or whatever, and to come home and us to have time with her. However, we know that ultimately, her days are numbered, and God knows what his plan is for anyone's life. Therefore, we put our requests in God's hands, trust him, and entrust them to him because we know he knows what is best.

There is a reality, realness, vulnerability, and authenticity in the way that we should be praying and teaching our kids to pray. Therefore, they are just sharing their hearts with God, but also in humility, knowing that he is God, we leave those things in his hands.

Number five: One of the things you may want to do with your child is to try conversational prayer. It is where you pray with your eyes open and it is like, you are still having a conversation with your child, but you are also including God in that conversation. Therefore, you may just with your eyes open and talking, say, “Jesus, you know that our hearts are hurting for Susie, and God we just want you to minister to her right now. Would you just reach down, touch her heart, and comfort her?” Then the other person may just jump in right after you and say, “Yes; help her to feel comforted and peaceful today, knowing that you are with her always.”

Therefore, you just talk back and forth, as you are having a conversation share and no one person is praying in another person listening. It has, it is a conversation and when someone says one sentence, then another person may say another, and it just becomes very conversational. With your eyes open, you are not tempted to go into the traditional type of prayer. You know, not that there is anything wrong with the traditional type of prayer. Do not get me wrong. I am not saying that. However, if you want to do a conversational prayer to show your child that we are just talking to God and having a conversation with him, this is one of the best ways I know to do that. It feels awkward at first, but then it becomes very comfortable, and I do not know, there is something dynamic about it and it can bless you and bless your child.

Then when you go back to the traditional way of praying with your head bowed, your eyes closed, your hands folded. You still have that understanding and that realization that this is a conversation with my heavenly father. Therefore, you do not forget that even though you may be more formal in the way you do it, it is not so structured. Therefore, you can have just a conversation.

Number six: pray by using verses. You will see many books about praying using Bible verses. I do not know of any that are specifically written for children, but I know of a wonderful book that uses Bible verses and I'm going to talk about that in just a minute. Nevertheless, we can use Bible verses to pray with our kids, but we need to be sure we are not taking them out of context and abusing those scriptures. We want to be sure that we are staying true to the meaning of the, and what the intent of the scripture is so we do not mislead our children.

One of the things I learned when I was training to be a chaplain is that we minister through prayer, and that's one of the reasons too, that we pray right away with someone who's requesting prayer. In addition, for our children, as we are praying for them, we can minister to them. You can also abuse people in prayer, and we need to be careful that we do not do that. This is because as parents, we are always aware of things that maybe God needs to work on in our kids, or maybe that God is working on in our kids' lives. However, do not bring that into the prayer with them, unless that is something that you are talking about. Like I had a friend who has a bad temper, she came to me, and we were talking about it. Therefore, of course, when we prayed, we prayed that God would help her with her bad temper because that is what we were talking about.

That is different. I am not talking about that. However, if my friend had come to me and we are talking about, we are discipling and I am teaching her about something, and we are talking about growing in the Lord and reading the word more. Then when it comes to prayer time and I am like, oh, and Lord help her with her bad temper. Then it becomes a place of me disciplining the person and that is not my role. So, when we are praying with our kids, we want to minister to them through our prayers, comfort them through our prayers. When you are praying, “Lord just give them peace, help them to know that you are always with them. Even when I cannot be in the room with them, you are with them in the room always. They never have to be afraid because you are always with them. When they go to bed at night, you are there. When they wake up in the morning, you are there. Moreover, we never have to wonder if you are there because we know you are there. We do not have to be afraid of anything because our great God is always with us.” Therefore, we are teaching the child through that prayer time that they do not have to be afraid that God is with them. In addition, they know that we believe that with all our hearts, it encourages them to believe the same thing. So that is a way to minister through prayer but to pray about things that they are not asking you to pray about and use it as a time to kind of jab them for where they need to change or grow, that is abusive in my opinion. That is not godly. If you need to pray for them about those things then pray when you are in your closet, when you are praying by yourself, and then lift that.

Of course, we want to pray for God to help our kids to see that they need to choose better friends or protect them from bullying and help them to stand up for themselves. Whatever we are praying about, we can do that in our private time. We do not need to beat them up with it.

Number eight: use appropriate language, show your true relationship with God. So, we do not want to pray King James English unless that is the way we talk all the time. Moreover, we want to be real again, authentic as we pray, prayer is a conversation with God. So use appropriate language for the age of your child. Just be aware of that. Then also show that you have a true with God that you are talking to someone real, this is not just a rote activity that you do because we have to pray before we eat.

So God thank you for the food and nourish our bodies and take out the calories and you know, whatever we pray before a meal, no, we're talking to God and we mean what we're saying. In addition, we are thinking about what we are saying. We can sometimes say, father too much, or oh, heavenly father, oh dear father. It is like; we are using filler in our prayer instead of just praying in authentic prayer. So, use appropriate language and show your real relationship with God.

Number nine: make a prayer list that works for both you and your child. Especially if a child is young, we may want to do a visual prayer list. It can almost resemble a vision board, but it is not a vision board. If you know about vision boards, they are new age and people try to manifest the things on the vision board, but to do something like that, that is a prayer board.

That is something that we do, things that you are praying about, that you put on the board that is visual, and then have a place where you can put when they are answered and how God answered that prayer request. So, make a prayer list that works for both of you. If it is a piece of paper, if it is in a journal, if it is on the wall, whatever works? You can do a list of names or you can do pictures, whatever is appropriate for your child's age. You want to do that so that it can be effective, but whatever you do, have a place where you show answered prayer. One of the things I did in my classroom years ago that was so effective (I do not even remember where I got the idea. It was not my idea. Someone else gave it to me. Another teacher I think had used this and I thought what a great idea), we kept a notebook with our prayer requests. It also had how they were answered. However, every time they were answered, we would make a paper chain link. Therefore, I started the paper chain in one corner of my classroom, and we would add the links for each answered prayer every day and loop it around the room. Well, of course, by the end of the year, we had chain completely going around our entire classroom because we had had so many answered prayers, and it became such a visual reminder of how real God is and that God is always at work. That was just so cool. Moreover, we would just write on each link. We would write about how the prayer was answered as well as the date. Then in the notebook, we could look more specifically, at what the request was. Nevertheless, it was just wonderful to have that visual in front of us.

Therefore, with our kids at home, we could do something like that. Whatever you would want to do that would remind your child this was an answered prayer or has the list and put the date with the answer so that you can go back and remember what it is. However, whatever it takes to show them that God is real, prayer is real, and prayer is powerful. We want them to understand that prayer is the greatest power they have because they are tapping into the almighty God who created the universe and who created them. So, find a creative way that will work for them, that will speak to them, and help them to remember that God is answering their prayers.

Number 10: check our attitude. Okay. We started with our practice of what we preach. We are ending with checking our attitude. That prayer is a privilege and not a chore.

If we have the attitude that this is just something we do, then our kids are not going to embrace prayer very much at all. We want to be sure that we are showing them what a privilege prayer is and that it is important to us. So, check our attitude. We always need to check our attitude. And one of the things I like to remind myself as I'm praying for my kids and I'm praying with my kids is, yes, they are at the center of my heart. I want what is best for them. I want them to be so in love with God and serve him with all their lives. But as much as I love my kids and as much as I want them to be close to God, he loves them more. Moreover, he wants them to be close to him even more than I do.

In addition, he has their absolute best at heart, and I love to remind myself of that and maybe that needs to go under number 10 with check our attitude about prayer. When we are entering into prayer with our kids and for our kids, we are touching the heart of God. It is where he is as well. His heart is for our children. His heart is for his people. Therefore, we are touching the heart of God, bringing our children into the throne room of God, and worshiping before him through prayer. It is an amazing honor and privilege and never looked at as a chore. In addition, if our kids see us acting like it is a chore and something we do not want to do, then we are teaching them the wrong thing. We need to spend more time on number one, praying, and getting our hearts right with God and making sure we are living out what we are teaching.

I want to share it with you. There are a few books out there that are very cute. One is by Max Lucado and it is called The Max Lucado Treasury of Bedtime Prayers: Prayers for Bedtime, and Every Time of Day. It is by Max and Denalyn Lucado, illustrated by Lisa Anderson and they are all original prayers, but they are poetic. They are full of rhymes, it is a very cute book, and I think it is sweet and the illustrations are beautiful. I think it would be a very nice book for a child. Especially if they are not sure how to pray, sometimes a rhyming prayer, being able to read rhyme, God is great. God is good. Let us thank him for our food. You know that is a good way to start with prayer. Therefore, there is certainly nothing wrong with these prayers, but they are more poems than prayers to me, but they are really pretty.

In addition, they deal with, you know, facing God in the morning and starting your day with prayer. Moreover, we want to honor God with what we do and what we say. It also deals with worship in this book. Therefore, it is a really sweet book. So that would be one book you could look at, but this other one is my favorite of all the books I found about children praying and teaching children to pray and I love this book. This book is written by a father and daughter. The father realized that the daughter was only praying rote prayers and not really learning how to pray authentically to a real God, but that she was just doing rote prayers and he realized this was his fault because he had not taught her any better. Therefore, he took it upon himself than to write this book, his daughter, and it is called Prayer Inspiration for Children.

So these are not meant to be prayers that we just pray in a rote way. They can be prayed. As they are written, they are beautifully written. They are meant to be an inspiration for us, with our children, for them to pray their prayers. This book was written by Revelino and Renata Guevara. Therefore, Revelino is the father, Renata is the daughter, and the illustrations are very cute, very sweet. Moreover, the prayers are beautifully written. Then each prayer has a verse to go with it. Therefore, before each prayer is a Bible verse, and then you have the prayers, there are five chapters. Therefore, it starts with the child learning to pray for themselves, to be grateful for whom God has made them. It starts with the verse from Psalms 139:14 “for I am fearfully and wonderfully made”. It has that verse.

Then it goes into thanking God, not only for creating them but also for giving them the freckles and the hair or whatever, the way he has made them look and accepting who they are physically as well as spiritually. There are other prayers for their achievements, for their ability to do well in school for the talents that God has given them. Second, one is a prayer for my parents. It starts with the Bible, says that we are to honor our parents so that we will live long. One of the ways of showing love and honor to our parents is by praying for them and in Joshua 24:15, but as for me in my house, we will serve Yahweh. Then there is the first prayer a Lord, my father. Thank you for my parents. You have given me a mother and a father to help me grow in your ways. I thank you that they love me and care for me and that they want the best for me; help me to be obedient to them. Let me show me my parents, how I love them through the things I do and say, heavenly father. I know that I do not obey what they say. Please forgive me and help me to be the best I can be. Oh, Lord. I pray for them that you will bless. Keep them in every way in Jesus' name. I pray. Amen.

How would you feel if your child was praying that for you every day? Would that not be wonderful? Then it goes on to pray for different areas in the parents' lives. The third is a prayer for teachers, and that includes praying for the school and that bullies’ hearts would be changed, protects us when we go to school, and help my school to teach your ways.


Then the next chapter is guiding our government leaders, our church leaders, and those who are in the protective services, our business leaders, and our community leaders. Then the final chapter is a prayer for the poor, the sick, the homeless, the addict, and the people in jail. Therefore, I love how this book is put together. I love that it takes a child from being grateful for who God has created them to be. God does not make mistakes that he created them exactly as he wanted them to be. It goes outside themselves to their family and then to their teachers, their school, to their community, then to those who are marginalized in our culture. Therefore, it almost teaches them ministry at the same time that it is teaching them a prayer. Your child will be blessed as they read these prayers and then create their prayers.


It will show them how to pray. Just like Jesus showed his disciples in the Lord's Prayer. In the model, it’s showing our kids how to pray for different things in their lives. Um, a way that honors God by acknowledging the verses in the Bible that go along with what we are praying and therefore also showing them that they can pray scripture. They can memorize scripture and it can influence their prayer time.


Thank you for joining us today. I hope you enjoyed this lesson. If you would like to learn more about parental guidance requested workshops for your church or your school, please go to my website and check it out for more information at terriehellardbrown.com

Your Host:

Terrie Hellard-Brown writes and speaks to help children and adults find God’s purpose and plan for their lives. She teaches workshops and writes devotional books, children’s stories, and Christian education materials. Her podcast, Books that Spark, reviews children’s books that spark imagination, emotion, and discussion. For more information, visit her website at terriehellardbrown.com