What To Do When My Child Does Not Want to Pray- continued

This is a continuation of yesterday’s post {which you don’t want to miss! :)} about what to do when our children do not want to pray. Remember… we cannot force true heart-felt prayer in our children, SO… let’s trust that God IS working in the depths of their hearts… let’s make sure that we are praying ourselves… and let’s get rid of any guilt by confessing and making TODAY the day to begin talking about, showing excitement for, and encouraging our children in prayer! And let’s not forget to remember how many times we ourselves have not *wanted* to pray… when we’re embarrassed or fearful, grouchy or tired, don’t have the words, or just don’t want to hear the answers. And then let’s pour out grace on our children by praying for them, and trusting that God will soften each of our hearts along the way!
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With that said, let’s take a look at some ways that we can encourage our children in prayer, for that’s what today’s post is all about. :)
The first way is something I’ve mentioned many times before (and I’m certain will mention again)…

*Model prayer*
Pray out loud with your children all throughout the day-
“God, please heal her owie!”… “God, thank-you for the sunshine!”… “God, please help us as we drive to ballet.”… “God, thank-you that we can talk to you all the time about everything.”… “God, please forgive me for getting angry.”… “God please bless my son’s day at school.”…  “God, You are amazing!”… and even- “God, I don’t know what to pray.”… “God, please soften my heart.”
This can be done no matter the age of our children– whether they are tiny newborns or are “old” and grown and have families of their own. In the Lord’s Prayer, and at other times, Jesus prayed so that others (ourselves included) would know how to pray. Let’s be an example as well. For when our kids see & hear how much we love praying, they’ll often want to do it too. And they’ll understand a bit more of what prayer is, and won’t be so afraid of it.

**Remember, in all of the rest of these suggestions, when we’re encouraging our children to do the praying… let’s not attempt to FORCE our children. I personally believe that this is one time that if they are too shy, or want to show their stubbornness, or even if they are hoping to set mom in a tizzy… we need to let it go- happily praying for them, and encouraging them again another time. ;)**

*Repeat-After-Me prayer*

Something as “simple” as letting your child repeat after you can be so helpful. It would look like this…
Mommy says, “Let’s pray to God… Dear God.”
Child says, “Dear Gawwwwd.”
Mommy says, “I’m sorry.”
Child says, “I’m sowwy.”
Mommy says, “for disobeying.”
Child says, “Fow disoeying.”

*Give-The-Words prayer*
If your child is older (three or four on up), being more specific about what to pray for, yet still giving them the words, can make them feel more confident.
Go ahead and warn them in advance, so that they feel prepared. Then you might say, “Please pray that Grandma would feel better.” See how that almost puts the words right into their mouths without actually doing the praying for them? It’s fine to keep giving them the words to pray until they feel more comfortable on their own. (Which may not be for a long time, but that’s okay… remember, God’s working in their hearts!)

Praying children

*Fill-In-The-Blanks prayer*

A lot of times we use this method at bedtime with our children. It forces them to think a bit more about what they are praying. You say the first words, and then your child fills in the blanks…
God, You are _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _!
God, I’m sorry for _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _!
Jesus, I’m sad about _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _!
Thank You, Lord, for _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _!
God, Please help _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ !

P.R.A.Y. prayer*
Many of you have heard of using the acronym A.C.T.S. to pray (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication). This is a simple structure that is based on The Lord’s Prayer that guides us in our prayers. Another acronym that works the same way is P.R.A.Y.! I like how this “spells” our what we are doing…
P- Praise
R- Repent
A- Ask
Y- thank You

*Pray Scripture*

The Bible is sprinkled with prayers! If you or your child does not know what to pray, use His Words.
{This week I’ve been praying Philippians 1:9-11 a lot, as those are the verses I’m memorizing with this week’s Bible study!}

Prayer Journal*
Some children would much prefer writing or drawing their prayers (I know I do!)! I’ve shared before about the prayer journals that our girls use. They still use them at least a few times a week. (Another idea we haven’t tried yet, but I would like to, would be to share a prayer journal with your child.)

prayer journal

*Prayer Books*
Some of my very favorite tools, are our prayer books (although they are in desperate need of updating)!
LOVE these! :)

prayer books

Prayer Jar*
Our prayer jar has been a wonderful way to pray for a variety of others. We would simply pick out a name at each meal time, and pray for that person/family.

prayer jar

*Prayer Box*
Our newest favorite has been our prayer box. I encourage you to read more about our prayer box! And, be creative, you don’t have to use all the items that we did… I’m sure you have some fun little trinkets lying around your house, that would work great as prayer prompts. :)

prayer box

And another favorite… PRAYER ROCKS!

There you have my top 10 prayer tools for kids!
Have you ever tried any of these?
What can you add to the list?


  1. Jennifer King says:

    These are great! Thank you for sharing! I actually posted a blog entry today noting the P.R.A.Y. acronym with my 2 year olds responses for this evening. I LOVE how she is connecting all of the Bible stories to the God we pray to every evening.

    I have a question (or two) if you post another prayer blog entry in the future…what do you do with children who are big dawdlers and drag out prayer time as a way to stay up even later. I feel like evening prayers are always so rushed because we are trying to get them in bed at a decent time. And, do you pray with each child individually at bedtime or is everyone in the same room together during evening prayers? What is your reasoning behind whichever way you approach this?

  2. Shannon says:

    Love these tips!

  3. Great ideas! This is a lot of the same stuff we do as well :)

  4. Jessica, I love these ideas! Thanks for sharing as this is always something on my mind:)

  5. gramas_munchkins says:

    I really like these tips. I will be exercize them with my Grandchildren while they are here with me.

    Thank You!

  6. Hi Jennifer! I’m going to have to go read that blog entry! :)
    I can give a quick answer to your questions here…
    For sweet dawdlers, I would try to set some time of limit (this is for when YOU as a mom know that prayers are just being used as a way to stall)… as long as you feel comfortable- five, ten minutes, or you could set a limit to how many things are said- today we’re going to pray for ten things. Then, I would really encourage them to keep praying in their hearts, because Jesus hears the prayers of our hearts. This would encourage them to keep praying- hence not putting an end to prayer.
    Something that also works at our house is to allow our older girls to read and/or write in the prayer journals until a specified time, and at that time- they turn out their own lights. This allows them some extra time- without as much dawdling. :)
    Also, there is no rule that says prayers HAVE to be at bedtime (yes, we should be praying about everything, all the time, but that’s different than a specified prayer time with your child), so you could try a different time of day if you would like!
    We do usually pray with each child individually, although there have been times when we’ve all prayed together. I guess I think both ways are important- it’s a special time with each child, as we get to encourage and be a part of our children’s prayers.

    Hope this helps a little!

  7. Thank you! Yes, we need those wonderful grandmas to help guide our children as well!!

  8. Thanks, dear friend!! I’m praying for you today!

  9. Thanks for the encouragement, Crystal. Are there any other things your family adds in?

  10. I appreciate your encouragement, Shannon!

  11. Our children are 2 and 4 and we have mostly concentrated on the first half of your list so far…with a lot of repetition. My children are both very shy and timid so they aren’t comfortable praying aloud if anyone outside family is present, but will sometimes repeat after us when no one is around. It’s one of those things that I don’t try to force. But, they are always listening, because we’ve been praying for a 7 month old baby named Clay who was born with CDH (we just pray for God to help him “feel better”), and one day my hubby said the prayer and forgot to mention baby Clay and my 4 year old reminded him, and immediately wanted to pray again, so that we could pray for baby Clay. Moments like that, when you can see that they “get it” make it so worth it.

    Another thing that we do is to always pray when we are in backed up traffic due to a wreck or see an emergency vehicle. They are young so they don’t fully understand, but they understand that someone is sick or hurt and needs God to help them.

  12. Beautiful ideas!!! I just linked to these two posts on my Cultivated Lives facebook wall!

  13. In our house, we keep cards that we receive (especially at Christmas) and then pull a few out each night and pray for them. We also did a fun prayer box thing at a Family Night at church. Here’s the details: http://impressyourkids.org/how-to-pray-as-a-family/

  14. Thanks for sharing Lindsey! We do the same thing with our cards, and it works great!! :)
    And how fun that you got one of those prayer boxes from church too. Impress Your Kids is where I got our prayer box idea! {I’m always so appreciative of the information Amanda shares to help impress our children with the word of God.}
    Hope you have a blessed night!

  15. Hopped over from Impress Your Kids. Thank you SO much for this wonderful resource. My 6yo is full of anxiety and I feel that’s at the heart of his reluctance to pray. My 3yo is extremely silly and I don’t think she has the maturity & focus to pray. But I also realize that I am not modeling it either.

  16. Thank you so much for this wonderful ideas … my son is almost 8, when he was much younger he loves to pray, out loud and infront of everybody. Now he refuses to pray – period! He said he is shy about it (when we asked why). And also, he refuses to close his eyes. I am not trying to be dogmatic about it – but explain to him by closing our eyes, we tend to be more focus on God and what we are going to say to Him. Also, my husband is not seeing eye to eye with me about family devotion. He only prays with us during dinner (which is good but I feel we need more and I shouldn’t nag either). Any suggestions here, ladies?

    • Hi Grace! I hope some of these prayer ideas have been helpful for your family! :) As far as your dear husband, I would recommend praying and waiting. If you’ve brought it up to him in a loving way, then the rest you can confidently place in God’s care. There are many times that we do family devotions when my husband is away, or I lead them (even when I hope he would), and I think that is better than the nagging wife I can become when trying to force him to do something he doesn’t want or feel important. But, I certainly understand the feeling of needing more than a prayer at dinner-time. ;) It’s amazing the work God will do when we get out of the way! :) Jessica