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Teaching Children to Pray

Aug 18, 2007
There are few things in life as precious as the prayers of a young child. I love to hear our children pray, especially when they really express themselves well and have their thoughts on other people.

But I've noticed something about a child's prayers: They are great barometers of where your child's heart is before the Lord (Matthew 12:34 says, "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks"). While they won't expose everything in their heart, you can get a good idea of what the child is focused on simply by listening to what they pray.

For instance, most children are quick to ask God for something they want. That's easy. We all focus on ourselves far more than we should and we all know of things we want. And the fact that Jesus tells us to ask makes asking a natural thing to do. But if our prayers stop there, it should alert us to the fact that our children are too focused on themselves.

Perhaps the most difficult area for anyone to pray about is repentance. This is especially tough for children. We know that repentance is a key component of salvation. Unfortunately, the only time most children repent in their prayers is when they pray "the prayer" at the church alter. And that's usually after heavy discussion with the parents. But repentance is a daily need for all of us -- not a one-time event. If you don't teach your children to have a repentant heart -- and to express it regularly -- what are you telling them about salvation? Remember, prayer is a barometer of their heart. If they never express repentance in their prayers, what is that telling you about their heart?

Obviously, the goal of teaching children to pray can't be a simple "say these words" instruction. The overall training of your children must get them to put God as a priority in daily life. That involves humbling themselves before Him and acting in love for Him. It also requires doing the same thing toward others.

Of course, the best way to train them is to set the example. You can tell them how to pray all you want. And you can tell them every day how to live and set their priorities. But until you show them how to do it, they probably won't get it. If this isn't something you do well, then tell your children that all of you need to improve in this area and that all of you will work on it together.
About the Author
Steve Kroening writes for Success magazine and also publishes Wisdom's Edge. You can get Biblical tips on health, finance, relationships, parenting, and success, delivered to your email inbox every week. Simply visit http://www.wisdomsedge.com and sign up for this free e-zine.
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