Prayer is one of the foundational spiritual practices of Christians. It’s our way of talking to God directly. Scripture is filled with descriptions of the purposes and benefits of a strong prayer life. In fact, we are commanded to “pray without ceasing”. That can sound a bit overwhelming to young people. You’ve probably helped your children establish good habits of praying at meals and bedtime, but teaching them how to pray throughout the day – as well as encouraging them to do it – can be a challenge.
Or perhaps, you know you should be praying for your children, but aren’t really sure what to pray about for them other than a few basics. How do these Christian parents who say they pray constantly for their children think of enough things to say to God every day?
Whether you want to strengthen your own prayer life or those of your children, there are some creative things you can do to spur your family to pray more often and in more depth. Here are a few of our favorite creative prayer ideas.
- Prayer rocks. Find large flat rocks your children can decorate. If there aren’t any in your yard, most craft stores sell them. Then have your children use markers to decorate them with the word “pray” and anything else they would like. Tell them to place the finished rock on their bed pillow. When they go to bed, the rock will remind them to pray. After praying, they should place the rock somewhere they will see it immediately upon waking the next morning. When they see the rock in the morning, it is a reminder to pray to start their day.
- Walking and driving prayers. These are prayers where you use the things you or your children see as they are walking around or driving with you in the car. For example, if your walk or drive takes you past their school, pray for the students and teachers and any specific needs of which you are aware involving people at the school.
- Chore gratitude prayers. We aren’t usually very grateful for our chores and your kids are no different. What if you used those chores as a way to carve out time to pray? Most chores don’t require a lot of thinking, so our brains are free to pray as we work. Encourage your children to thank God for each of the items they are cleaning. Or take it a step further and use items as symbols of things to pray about. For example, if they are folding laundry, their socks might remind them of missionaries who walk long distances to serve and teach others and they could pray for them. Or putting their sports uniform in the washer could remind them to pray for their coaches and teammates.
- Person of the week prayers. A friend of mine shared this idea. Each time period, she and her son picked a name out of a jar of names of people they know. They contact the person and let them know, they want to pray for them especially that week (or whatever). Ask if they have anything special they would like for you to pray about for them. If they can’t think of anything or don’t want to share private details, ask your children to pray for what they believe will help that person the most.
- Scripture prayers. When our daughter was in elementary school, I joined a group of other moms who focused on praying for their school. Many in the group would take specific Bible verses and pray them for their children. For example, if they chose the verses listing the fruit of the Spirit, they may ask God to help their children have those characteristics in abundance in their lives. Since many in the time of Jesus used various Psalms as prayers, there are many verses in the book of Psalms you can use to pray over your children.
- Color prayers. This is a favorite for Bible class teachers of young children. Cut out various squares of paper in different colors. As you pray as a family, each person draws out a slip of paper and prays for something of which the color reminds them. Young children will usually thank God for something they can think of that is the same color, like bananas if they choose yellow, and that’s fine. The object is to teach them to pray prayers that aren’t rote.
- Theme prayers. Why not choose a theme of the day or week to add to your family’s prayers? Maybe it’s making good choices, handling conflict in more godly ways, being a light in the world, etc. Encourage everyone in the family to pray about the topic to God in their private and family prayers.
- Breath prayers. I am not sure who originally coined the term, but it’s a great way to teach your kids to pray without ceasing. These prayers are usually only a sentence or a phrase prayed to God in the moment as something is happening. They are almost always silent prayers. Often these are prayed while waiting our turn to talk or do something. Less formal than many prayers, they are easy to do once you and your children get in the habit and they can encourage praying without ceasing.
Can you or your kids think of other creative ways to enhance your prayer life? Before long, you may find you all have started praying without ceasing and it has become as natural as breathing is to you!