What is the first bedtime prayer for kids that comes to your mind? As a ministry that has been learning, writing, and teaching on prayer for a while now.
We have always contended that the way that we teach prayer to our children isn’t quite right. It focuses more on the memorisation of the words instead of meaning the words that they say.
To mean these words, they’d have to understand them. Perhaps it is the idea of having to explain the vastness of our God to minds that are so young that makes it difficult.
Yet, prayer in its purest form is filled with simplicity. After all, Jesus asked that we would let the children come to him. Instead, we often stand in their way with these memorisations.
14 But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”Matthew 19:14 New King James Version (NKJV)
How can we make bedtime prayer for kids simple, yet deliberate? The answer is more straightforward than you may imagine. Equip the children with the building blocks of prayer so that they can personalise it. You want your children to own the words that they say to the Lord. This is how you build a personal relationship with God.
As long as they are saying your words, there is no ownership on their part.
1. What are you thankful for?
Get your child to get into the habit of counting their blessings. This is a lesson that will last them a lifetime. Their gratitude would then form their prayer.
Psalm 100:4 King James Version (KJV)
4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
Let the words be their own. You can make this very practical by working with your children to write down things that you are grateful for. What are you grateful for as a family? What are you grateful for as the father or mother of the house? Doing this together not only builds a culture of gratitude but it also gets your child’s mind going.
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for mum, dad, grandma, my friends, my teachers, my pet, my lovely home, and my dog. Watch over them for me. Amen
2. What do you hope for tomorrow?
Teach your child to make the Lord the foundation of everything that they will ever build. In this way, they will always pin the future in the capable hands of the Lord. We know from Proverbs 3:4-6 that those that lean on the Lord and not on their own understanding are led by him. He directs their paths. That is a position in which we should all aspire to be.
We also know that no matter what we plan, it is all pointless if it is not founded on the Lord. He should be the anchor of each day, each plan and subsequent execution. Impress this on your child from a young age.
Proverbs 3:5-6 New King James Version (NKJV)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall [a]direct your paths.
Psalm 127 King James Version (KJV)
127 Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.
Again, let the words be theirs.
Dear God, I hope to have a lovely day tomorrow. I pray that you guide me to play safely, and to learn safely. Thank you for watching over me. Amen
3. The Less fortunate
The poor will always be among us. Prayer is a great place to start building on empathy in your child. Ask them to pray for those that have less than they do. That God would provide for them.
Proverbs 19:16-18 New King James Version (NKJV)
16 He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul,
But he who [a]is careless of his ways will die.
17 He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord,
And He will pay back what he has given.
18 Chasten your son while there is hope,
And do not set your heart [b]on his destruction.
You can tie this to their blessing. Let the child consider who has less blessings than they do. Point out the homeless and other disenfranchised persons they will come across.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for all that I have. I pray for those that don’t have as much as I do. I ask that you would teach us to be kind to them. Provide for their needs, Lord. Amen
The value of sleep is one that is often understated. There are multitudes that don’t get to sleep in the pleasant environments that some of us do. Teach your child to recognise that.
It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep.
Isaiah 48:22 New King James Version (NKJV)
22 “There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.”
Remind your child that sleep and peace are a gift from the Lord above.
Dear God, I pray for a wonderful, peaceful sleep with no nightmares. I will not be afraid because you are always with me. Thank you for giving me rest, and refilling my body with energy for tomorrow. In Jesus’ name. Amen
The Bible teaches us to train a child in a way that he should go and he will stay on that path. Prayer is one of the most important things that you could possibly teach them. This is the one skill that will keep them at peace with the world, and even with you when things are not well.
We cannot overstress the importance of ownership. Prayer is not a recipe to be passed down from generation to generation. It is more of a skillset that can be passed down. Once they learn it, they can use it at will. Our role as their parents is to ensure that they have this skill.
If you have any interesting techniques that you have used to teach prayer to your children, we would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below.