When unexpected, troubling events happen on the worldwide stage like the collapse of NFL player Damar Hamlin, the community often coalesces around a response. In this instance, thankfully, we’ve seen and heard numerous people from ESPN commentators to Facebook friends offer prayers on his behalf. What a wonderful outpouring and what great news that he is already home from the hospital and testifying to the blessings of God!
How can we encourage our kids, when presented with this example, to develop the lifelong practice of prayer?
1. Let your child be aware of situations for which they can pray. They can be vital participants! Consider Jesus’ inclusion of children, “Let the little ones come to me.” (Matthew 19:14) Lead your children in the confidence that they matter to the Lord. So do their prayers! It is so important for them to know that "the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
2. Make prayer a part of your daily routine, then allow your child to take part in it. Have them join you in prayer. An acronym that can easily direct prayer is ACTS:
Adoration- Remember and profess who God is: Creator, Redeemer, Life-giver, Provider, and other praiseworthy attributes! Take this moment to direct your thoughts to whom you’re talking.
Confession- Tell God where you fall short, even the lack of faith to know He’s working in the very situation for which you’re praying!
Thanksgiving- Remember His past faithfulness, His presence in times of trouble and joy, His leadership in moments of decision, His way of working things for good, or even His desire to involve you in His work by prayer!
Supplication- Present your needs and the needs of others. Remind your children to humbly cast their cares/worries/anxiety on the Lord. Why? Because He cares for them. (1 Peter 5:6-7)
3. Give your child a role in prayer. Encourage them to take turns saying prayers at family meal times or before bed. Use natural times like these to entrust them with their participation.
4. Give your child a prayer book or journal. This can help them express their thoughts and feelings in prayer.
5. Remind them that prayer is an ongoing conversation with God. Adopt the “See Something, Say Something” approach. When you see an ambulance with lights flashing, or a plume of smoke from a house fire, your first response is to say something to the Lord about the situation. Prayer never has to be a fancy, poetry-like expression, although those are wonderful as well. Prayer is the connection between the created and Creator!
As parents, we are often baffled at the response of our kids. They can exhibit such great faith! What a privilege it is to model an attitude of prayer, an expectation of God at work, and a deep dependence on God's provision. As we help in the molding of their faith, may ours be grown as well!
In the comments, let us know if you have other helpful ideas to encourage your kids to connect with the Lord through prayer.