*This is a guest article*
Introducing prayer into the lives of your children has many benefits. It teaches thankfulness and empathy with others in the wider world. Prayer opens children up to the miraculous power of God. It provides comfort and reassurance when times are dark and a valuable support which can be taken on into adult life.
Prayers should not be long and complicated. Prayers can be taken direct from the Bible, homemade or written by others. Prayers that rhyme are easier for small children to learn.
The Power of Collective Prayer
Prayer can reach those who are distant from us and experiencing difficulty. Many charities working in the developing world help children through direct fundraising and sponsorship. Child sponsorship involves more than just financial support, such as following the prayer requests of the children and praying with them. Take a look at Compassion’s free prayer journal templates and start a journey with your children to learn more about the power of prayer.
1. Prayers from the Bible
Taking passages from the Bible teaches children that the Bible is always there for guidance and inspiration. Simple lines from scripture can provide support in many situations. For courage in life’s challenges, use these words from Joshua 1:9, “ Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismay, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
2. Prayers before meals
A prayer before food teaches children to be thankful for God’s bounty and to think of those across the world who do not have enough to eat. Eating together is part of our common humanity.
“God is great and God is good,
And we thank God for our food;
By God’s hand, we must be fed,
Give us Lord our daily bread.”
3. Prayers at bedtime
When the busy day is done, spend a few minutes with your children before lights out thanking God for the wonders of life and remembering those who are less fortunate. Bedtime prayers are shown in studies to reduce stress and help encourage peaceful sleep. Here is a favourite which many adults will remember saying when they were children:-
“Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord, my soul, to keep
May God guard me through the night,
And wake me with the morning light.”
4. Prayers in times of worry and uncertainty
Most adults know that life presents many challenges and part of growing up is learning how to manage difficult times. Faith is a huge support and children will quickly learn to rely on the power of prayer to help them through tough times. This may be a new school or an argument with a friend or a house move or the loss of a treasured pet. Through the power of prayer, children can learn that God will care for them. The way forward may not be easy or obvious but God’s support is there for those who seek it.
“I hear no voice, I feel no touch,
I see no glory bright;
But yet I know that God is near,
In darkness as in light.
God watches ever by my side,
And hears my whispered prayer
A God of love for a little child
Both night and day does care.”
5. Prayers for others
Including others in our prayers is crucial to our shared humanity and developing empathy and compassion in children. Most children include family and friends in their prayers anyway but this particular prayer can be extended to incorporate almost anyone.
“Thank you for mummy
Thank you for dad
Thank you for Jesus
Who makes me glad
Thank you for rain
And for sunshine above
But I thank you most
For your wonderful love
Always keep prayers simple for children. Say them out loud together and remember, you can sing a prayer, it’s called a hymn – prayers do not have to be spoken. Encourage your children to write their own special prayers and keep them in their prayer journal. Designate times of the day to pray such as bedtime and mealtimes but always encourage your children to be spontaneous in prayer too.
Thank you for reading.