How can we learn to pray? Instruction helps, but example is the key. We learn to pray by hearing other people’s prayers. The same goes for the children we are charged with the responsibility of leading. Earlier this month we shared the P-R-A-Y acrostic as a method to encourage your children to pray.
P- Praise “Dear God, I praise you because you are___________!”
R- Repent “I am sorry for ___________! Please forgive me.”
A- Ask “Please be with __________!” or “Please help ___________!”
Y- Thank YOU! “Thank-you, God, for _________!”
Scripture supports the idea of learning to pray. The disciples said in Luke 11:1b, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John also taught his disciple. Jesus then proceeded to teach them the Lord’s prayer. This model prayer includes several elements.
The A-C-T-S model involves four steps: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. Most young children won’t understand what each letter of the ACTS acronym means, so instead, use it as a guide to take them through the prayer time as follows, pausing after each step for a minute or so to allow time for prayer
Adoration: To avoid praising God each day in a way that would get rote or mechanical, spend some time brainstorming things about God that were good, powerful, loving, awesome, holy. Find some of the names for God found in the Bible: Rock, Shepherd, Jesus, and King of Kings, Father.
Confession: You may have to remind them, as this doesn’t always come easy. For example: “What about hitting your sister today?” Then on to the next child, “Remember how you threw that fit and got in trouble this morning?” “What about those mean words you said to your brother?” Once reminded, they willing confess their sins to God and even excited that they had something for this part of prayer. They just needed some training and direction.
Thanksgiving: This step comes most naturally when children pray. My children are always grateful for a “wonderful day.” But now we encourage them to be more specific. What are we thankful for? Yes, we had trips to the park, friends over, and new toys to thank God for; however, we also talk about some basic things that we often take for granted: freedom to worship, our own copy of God’s Word, clean water, food, eyes to see, legs to run. They don’t always remember these blessings in day-to-day life when surrounded by ads and commercials tempting them to want more.
Supplication: We can ask for things we need or want, but we also want to pray for others.
Another method to teach your child is the Five Finger Prayer model.
Thumbs represent: PRAISE GOD
Pointer fingers represents: CONFESS YOUR SINS
Middle fingers represents: THANK GOD
Ring fingers represent: PRAY FOR OTHERS
Pinky fingers represent: PRAY FOR YOURSELF
Regardless of which model you use we encourage you to start right now! Pray together. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just talk to God! He promises that He’s listening!
How do you carve out time for your family to pray together?