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  • Writer's pictureSarah Keeling

Before You Teach Your Kids to Pray, Do These Two Things

1. Pray that God would give your kids a desire to talk to Him.

When I was in high school I read a book by Beth Moore, “A Heart Like His.” I remember studying about David’s heart, and I began praying that God would make me a woman after God’s own heart.

That is what I want for myself and my children: to be known as someone after God’s own heart.

About five years ago I began regularly prayer journaling using Jennie Allen’s Prayer Guide. I printed it and had it bound at the UPS store. There wasn’t anything fancy about the outside of that spiral-bound book, but its contents have become irreplaceable to me.

Now, when I look back, I can see that day after day I prayed that God would make our son Mack a man after God’s own heart.

In the years since, I have seen those prayers answered in ways that could only be God’s. Mack trusted in Jesus as his Lord and Savior at a early age, even though I tried to make him wait. I was concerned that he was too young to understand salvation. Obviously, you can’t stop a work that God is doing, and Mack insisted on trusting in the Lord one night at our house while my husband was at Bible study.

As Mack has gotten older, his desire to study God’s word and pray is ever increasing. Thanks be to God!

I have seen that only God changes hearts. The Holy Spirit draws us closer to God. We can teach our kids all day long how to pray, but ultimately, we cannot change their hearts. Only God Can do that.

“…The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart…”

1 Samuel 13:14

Practical tip:

  • Screenshot or save this sample prayer, add your child’s name, and make it your phone lock screen. Pray this verse over your child every day for a week, and see what happens.

2. Model prayer. Seems simple, right?

People have asked me how Mack learned to pray the Psalms. Yes, I taught him that method, but before that, he saw me praying the Psalms. I wasn’t trying to pray the Psalms for his sake. I was in a season of desperation for God. Much of my prayer journal was written while sitting in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber with Mack as we received treatment for carbon monoxide poisoning. He watched movies while I scribbled out prayers. It wasn’t pretty at all.

Once that season ended, I continued praying the Psalms, and later I taught Mack the same method. Obviously, I’m a fan of teaching kids how to pray (I did write a book about that 🤪).

However, I believe that modeling prayer is the most important foundation before teaching prayer. If I tried to teach Mack how to pray, but didn’t do it myself, it would not be nearly as effective.

If we want prayer to come from our children’s hearts, our own hearts must be aligned with God. This is the beautiful power and scary responsibility for us as parents. Gulp. We get to show our kids how to connect deeply with God, which is really amazing!

Listen, I fail at this ALL the time!! I’m incredibly thankful for God’s grace to parents. I sure need it!

Practical tips:

  • Start bedtime 5 minutes earlier and include a time where you read a short devotional (we love “Jesus Calling for Kids”). Then use the verse from the devotional to have a short family prayer time. Like two minutes! I know bedtime can be crazy, but this can be such a special time together.

  • Set a reminder on your phone - Pray with Kids!

I hope these tips encourage and empower you as parents.



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