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A Plan for Prayer: Discipling our Kids to Pray

A Plan for Prayer: Discipling our Kids to Pray

by Karen Brown on October 22, 2021

We all know we’re supposed to pray for our kids. We know we’re to pray near them, with them, and over their whole lives. We hear these prepositions of prayer often, and we pay attention because we want to raise godly, prayerful adults with vibrant, Kingdom-building faith. Please, God.

But how can rushed, un-holy dinner prayers: God is great-za, God is neat-za, let us thank Him for this pizza…

And bedtime prayers that are clearly designed to stall for time: And God, please also bless the squirrels who live at grandma’s farm, all the aliens in outer space, my new sandbox, and Jake at State Farm… 

… How can these common, childhood moments be part of a theology of prayer that’s true and transformative over time?

In Family Ministries, we are confident in our God who uses incomplete and immature, but honest prayers for His glory and our good. In this God-confidence, we have laid out a discipleship plan for prayer that celebrates and challenges every developmental stage and grows us all:

EARLY CHILDHOOD: The prayer goal for this stage is EXPOSURE. Our youngest kids are noticing that we pray when we are happy, sad, scared, in need, all alone, and together in worship. They are learning that some prayers are short, simple, and said aloud with eyes wide open, while others are longer, whispered, and on our knees. When they are allowed to watch, our youngest kids can learn about a big God who is big enough to be everywhere and always listening. Please help us welcome them, Lord. 

ELEMENTARY: The prayer goal for this stage is EXPERIENCE. Our elementary kids are tired of watching and want to have a turn. They are excited about their new learning and can’t wait to prove to themselves, and to us, that can participate. You’ll hear their voices reciting the Lord’s Prayer and adding to the long-running list of prayer requests. When such prayer practice is allowed and encouraged, our elementary kids can learn about a God who delights in the details of their lives and cares for their every need. Please give us patience, God. 

MIDDLE SCHOOL: The prayer goal for this stage is ENGAGE. Middle school students are tired of playing and want something real. They crave truth and certainty in every area of their lives: about the world, about themselves, and about God. In big or small ways, they will often pick apart and shake down the parts of their lives that they sense are important: faith, family, friends, school – to see what each is really made of. And when we can resist the panic, push through the awkward, and keep praying with them, for them, around them, and over them, our middle schoolers will see us grow right alongside them. If hard questions are encouraged, failure is allowed, and truth is upheld, even the most unfriendly pickers and shakers can re-discover a personal, loving God.  Please give us courage, God. 

HIGH SCHOOL: The prayer goal for this stage is EXPRESS. Our hope is that sometime before our kids graduate from high school, they will be able to take the faith they have been exposed to, experienced, and personally engaged – and express it. When we invite our older students to turn outward in prayers for others whether across the lunch table or across the world, we are helping them discover their humble place in God’s Kingdom. When we affirm their voice in our prayers for our neighbors, we are sending them out to a watching world with courage and compassion.  Please let us get out of their way, God. 

It’s a good plan for prayer. But the best part is that it’s not the plan that makes it good at all. It’s the God who loves us and our kids more than our efforts and failures. It’s the God who takes our best laid plans and rearranges them so we can’t possibly take credit for His work. May our kids know a God that’s way bigger than our plans for their lives. 

Pray with me? 

Tags: prayer, kids, students, parents, family ministry

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