Teaching Kids to Pray

January 26, 2023

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How do we teach kids to pray? In this episode, Elizabeth Urbanowicz answers a question received from a grandparent on teaching their 2 year old how to pray. If you're a parent or grandparent with children 2 years old on up, you won't want to miss this episode.


Note: The following is an auto-transcript of the podcast recording.

Hello friends, and welcome to another episode of the Foundation Worldview Podcast where we seek to answer your questions so you can equip the children God has placed in your care to carefully evaluate every idea they encounter and understand the truth of the biblical worldview. I'm your host, Elizabeth Urbanowicz, and I'm excited to dive into another question today. Our question today is simple and it says, "How do I teach my two-year-old grandson about prayer?" Now, simple question, but thinking through the answer isn't quite so simple because when we're thinking about teaching little ones how to pray, many times we ourselves as adults don't even understand what prayer is or the necessity to pray. So doing so teaching our kids how to pray can feel complicated. Now, I love the heart behind this question. I love that grandparents are seeking to teach through grandchildren how to pray.

Now, anytime I answer a question about grandparents instructing their grandkids, there's just a word of caution that I want to give because I know so very little about the situation. So the thing that I always want to remind grandparents of is that God has placed the authority for that grandchild in the hands of your child and your child's spouse, that God has given parents the authority over their children. Now, according to the biblical worldview, your children and your grandchildren should be respecting you. They should be honoring you; they should be caring for you. And in that, whether they're doing that well or whether they're not doing that well, one thing that's important is that you as the grandparent are really intentional about respecting the wishes of your grandchild's parents. So if you're in the situation where your child is not walking with Jesus or your child's spouse is not walking with Jesus and they have limited what they want you to be able to do and say with your grandkids, I would really encourage you to respect those wishes, to pray a ton, to pray for God, to give you wisdom, but to respect those wishes and to not try to do anything secretive or sneaky because that doesn't honor the Lord.

So if you are in a situation where your child and your child's spouse are not Christians and they really don't want you talking with your grandchild about Jesus, about scripture, about prayer, about faith, what I would encourage you to do is just live a life of prayer and model it before your grandchildren. Because even if your children don't directly want you talking about that with your grandchild, you can still model prayer before them in so many different ways. Pray before meals when they're over at your house. It should just be a thing that when they're at Grandma's house or Grandpa's house or Grandma and Grandpa's house that they pray before all meals. Pray before driving in the car before you start the engine. Okay, buckle up your seatbelt. Now Grandma's going to pray for us asking Jesus that he would get us there to the store safely. Offer prayers of thanksgiving when good things happen or when difficult things happen.

Just model having this heart of gratitude. And I think this can be a real challenge and encouragement to all of us to think how often do we pray? We should be praying before meals, but is it just a quick "Thank you God for this food... I'm really hungry... let's get this over with?" Or is it a recognition that without God creating and sustaining the world, we wouldn't have any food? Whatever we're eating before us, if we're eating some kind of vegetable, we would not have that vegetable if God didn't set up the world in such a way where He is sustaining those ecosystems so that farmers can produce crops. If we're eating some form of meat or fish, we would not be having that meat or that fish if God hadn't sustained the life of these animals. And so often we just breeze by that.

But if we can even ourselves get into the habit of praying about everything, about thanking God for things... when we wake up in the morning, "Thank you, God for another new day. Thank you for sustaining me through the night. Thank you for a good night's sleep. Or even if we had a rough night's sleep. Thank you God for sustaining me through a very rough night of sleep." When we hear about a loss, pausing to pray and saying, "God, we don't understand, but we thank you for trusting us with this and we trust you. You're going to sustain us through this," so that we are just modeling this life of prayer. And for those of you grandparents who are listening, and you are in a situation where your children do allow you to talk with your grandkids about faith and about scripture and about God, praise God for that.

And I would encourage you very similarly to do the same things to model a life of prayer before your grandkids because they're going to pick up on the things that you model and live out before them. And if you are in a situation where your children do allow you to talk about Christianity with your grandkids, invite them to pray with you, ask them to pray before meals. Say, "Okay, we're going to thank Jesus. He got us here safely. Do you want to pray with me?" Invite them into that, especially these little ones when they're just learning about prayer. Model prayer for them. I would also encourage you to directly instruct them in what prayer is. That prayer is talking with God. It's a conversation with God. And so often we don't think about how amazing it is that we have access to God's throne all hours of the day and night. We no longer need some priest mediating between us and God. There's no longer a curtain of separation between the Holy of Holies and the regular people. When Jesus died on the cross, that curtain in the temple was torn in two. Jesus made a way for us to no longer be separated from Him.

And that is an incredible thing that we have access to the throne of grace at any time. And so if we can help our grandkids understand this? Incredible! Then also talk with them about, "Why do we pray? What is the purpose of praying?" And I would encourage anyone listening to talk with the kids that God has placed in our care, whether they're grandkids, our own kids, adoptive kids, foster kids, kids in our classroom, kids at church, nieces and nephews, whoever, just kids in our community, that we give them four reasons, four direct reasons why we pray. One, we pray because we have the opportunity to praise God for who He is. We see this all throughout the Psalms, that there are prayers praising God Most High for who he is. And this honors God when we praise Him for his attributes.

And you know what else it does for us? It also shifts our focus and encourages our hearts because we so often get tunnel vision on our circumstances and what's going on in our life, in the world around us that we forget who God is. There's a new book out by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth called Heaven Rules, where she goes through the book of Daniel and just talks about all of the different passages where we see in the book of Daniel that heaven rules that God is on his throne. And when we pray and praise God for who He is, that's exactly what we're reminding our hearts of, that heaven rules, that God is enthroned above all. So that's the first reason I would encourage us to explain to the kids that we pray. We pray to praise God for who He is. A second reason is we pray in order to confess our sins, that we know that we are sinful, that we are fallen, that we are born in sin, and that we choose to sin every day.

And now once Jesus has reconciled us to God, we are clothed in His righteousness and we cannot be separated from God again because we are united with Christ in a very real way. But our sin, we can still sin even once we are in that right relationship to God. And we want to confess our sins because in 1 John, we're told that when we confess our sins, that He cleanses us from those sins. And so we want to confess our sins to God. We don't want any sin to put a hindrance. No sin can fully separate us from God, but it can put a hindrance in our relationship with God. And so we want to make sure that we are confessing those sins, that we're not continually walking in sins. So that's the second reason that we pray. Then we also pray to thank God for what He has given. Having a heart of gratitude is so important.

If you go through the New Testament epistles and you just circle the word "thanks" (or "thanksgiving" or "thankfulness"), I think you'll be surprised to find how many times that word appears and also how many times the word "thanks" (and "thankfulness") is connected to God's peace. Having a heart of gratitude, having a heart of trust in Him is connected to his peace, to remembering our right relationship with Him. So I would encourage you to just explain to the kids God is placed in your care that we pray to give thanks to God. This isn't just something we should focus on in November around the time when we in the United States celebrate Thanksgiving. We should have a heart of gratitude at all times. And then fourth, we pray to ask God to provide the things that we need. We are completely dependent on Him. He is our creator and our sustainer.

And without Him, we would not have anything. And so when we need things, we go to Him and we ask Him for the things that we need. So those are the four things that I would encourage you to explain to the kids that God has placed in your care. We pray to praise God for who He is. We pray to confess our sins. We pray to thank Him for what He has given, and we pray to ask Him for what we need. Now, if you're interested in diving into this deeper, I would encourage you to check out the book, Everything A Child Should Know About Prayer by Nancy Guthrie. It's a great book that just answers multiple questions that little ones usually have about prayer. It explains in more detail what prayer is, why we should pray, when we should pray, how we should pray, and it's all rooted in scripture, so I would highly recommend that you check out that book, Everything a Child Should Know About Prayer.

And then again, just as a reminder, once we've set that foundation for what prayer is, just the importance of modeling this for our children... not just for the sake of teaching them and modeling, but for the sake of us loving God. We should be communicating with God throughout the day, every day, that we should be praying at all times and in all circumstances.

Well, that's a wrap for this episode today. If you found this content helpful, I would just highly encourage you to consider liking this episode and writing a review so that more people can find this content and equip the kids God has placed in their care to carefully evaluate every idea they encounter and understand the truth of the biblical worldview. As always, as we leave this time, my prayer for you is that God would richly bless you as you continue to faithfully disciple the children that He's placed in your care. I'll see you next time.

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