Children learn by observing the adults in their lives. Just as they learn to walk and talk by watching others walking and talking, kids learn to pray as they see the adults in their lives praying. Prayer looks different depending on the age of the child, but every child can learn to pray at a developmentally appropriate level.
Even very young children can learn to pray. While your babies and toddlers won’t comprehend the significance of what you are doing, they are still watching you and following your lead. We have been praying with our daughter since the day she was born. We are not perfect parents by any means, but God truly has blessed our efforts in teaching Sutton to pray. Just as she has grown in how she communicates with us and with other people, we have watched her grow in how she communicates with God. When she was a baby, she would lay there while my husband or I prayed. As she grew, she moved to folding her hands and bowing her head. Then she would repeat after us. It has been such a blessing to watch her grow in her prayer life. There is something so pure, sweet, and humbling about watching your toddler talk to the Creator of the universe.
In the picture below, Sutton was only 15 months old. I snapped that picture really quick as we were about to eat dinner. It was one of the first times that she folded her hands to pray before her daddy or I even did. Now, she’s 2.5 and says her own prayers. We ask her who or what she wants to thank God for, and she does. (Currently, the thing that she thanks God for the most is watermelon. It’s adorable and reminds me to be thankful for the little things.) Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your baby or toddler is too young to pray. Pray with them, no matter how tiny they are. God will bless your family because of it.
Prayer can be intimidating for kids (and adults) when they think they have to use certain words or phrases. Children must learn that prayer doesn’t have to be formal – it can simply be a conversation between them and God. Kids can learn that they can pray anywhere at anytime, and God will hear them no matter what. A prayer can take several minutes or it might only consist of a few words. When we model prayer by praying with our children, they will understand that their prayers don’t have to follow any certain kind of format.
We have to be training the children in our lives to run to the Lord with their needs. We need to teach them how to pray and seek Him with all of their hearts (Jer. 29:13). Whether you are a parent, aunt, uncle, grandparent, guardian, etc., your children – even the youngest ones – need to see your example in how to pray. It’s a big job, but I promise you can do it!
I’d love to pray with you as you lead the children in your life! Please reach out to me if there is anything specific that I can be praying for.