“In certain ways we are weak, but the Spirit is here to help us. For example, when we don’t know what to pray for, the Spirit prays for us in ways that cannot be put into words.”(CEV) Romans 8:26
Just as it’s challenging for parents, prayer can be challenging for kids too! Maybe you have times when you do not know what to pray for or find yourself at a loss for words. At times like these, be vulnerable with your kids and honest about your struggles. Here are some ideas that might help your kids be more comfortable praying:
Get “caught” praying. Sometimes kids don’t know how to pray because they don’t know what prayer looks like outside of church. Pray in places and at times when your kids can “catch” you praying. Say a prayer out loud for a friend after they text you with bad news. Say a quick prayer with your kids before they head to school. On a nature walk together, offer a short prayer thanking God for creation.
Teach easy-to-remember prayers. Check out the easy-to-remember prayer models in the Kids Corner series on the Lord's Prayer and the ACTS prayer model. Or maybe there is a prayer your kids learned in Sunday School.
Help them understand what they’re feeling. Sometimes, we do not know what to pray because we do not know what we feel. Help your kids process their emotions by asking questions like these:
“How are you feeling?”
“How do you feel about ___________?”
“It sounds like you feel ___________, is that how you are feeling?”
“When I feel ___________, I pray about it. Do you want to pray?”
Sometimes our children do not know what to pray because they haven’t really prayed much themselves. Give your kids a regular opportunity to pray. Take turns praying before a meal, at bedtime, or before school. No matter how long or short their prayer is, make sure you encourage them afterwards, “That was a really good prayer!”
Let Romans 8 comfort you. You won't always know what to pray for your kids. You might feel unsure about your words when you teach them about God. Remember that God knows the depth of your quick silent prayers. He knows the words your children need to hear. He also knows the words you need to hear and speaks comfort to you too.
Want to do a deep dive? Check out Family Fire's article When I Don't Know How to Pray