This post is republished with permission from Illustrated Children’s Ministry. – Ed.
Discovering ways to pray with children offers them space for connection with God and, not surprisingly, has been shown to improve well-being time and again. Consequently, we give our children an invaluable and timeless gift when we teach them how to pray. Additionally, it’s a gift they can carry with them throughout all of life.
At ICM, we think this is so important we compiled a list of 10 ways to pray with kids. Pick and choose, mix and match any way you’d like. (Also, looking for some fresh coloring sheets? Grab a free sample pack here!)
Pray Through Art
Coloring Prayer: First, gather coloring utensils and coloring sheets. Second, decide what you’ll pray for with each color. For example, use purple while praying aloud for animals, green for family members, blue for the Earth and the environment. Tailor the categories to your own family or classroom.
Prayer in Song: One of the easiest ways to teach children to pray is through singing. There are several options out there. The doxology is one song used as a prayer of praise and thanksgiving. The lyrics are as follows:
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Praise God all creatures here below.
Praise God above ye heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Prayer Journal: Invite your children to begin drawing and writing their prayers to God. Even little ones can draw their prayers. For those who are older, they may want to write letters to God. Additionally, giving children a prompt can offer needed structure. Perhaps encourage them to write God about their hopes for the coming school year.
Pray Using Your Body
Prayer through Movement: There are several ways to pray with kids that teach how their minds and bodies communicate with God. So, try this simple prayer below, especially useful for the kinesthetic learner. Additionally, yoga and dance are great options that can be done with children of all ages.
(3 deep breaths)
God, you are above (reach toward the sky), below (touch your toes), inside (hands to heart) and all around (big arm circles).
I worship you (reach toward the sky), and give my life to you (touch your toes).
And I love you (hands to heart) with all that I am (big arm circles).
(3 deep breaths)
Five-Finger Prayer: This prayer practice assigns each finger something to pray for. The thumb is for those closest to us. The index finger for those who teach, instruct and heal us. The middle finger, our tallest, is for our leaders. The ring finger, our weakest, for those who are weak. The pinky is for ourselves. Click here to download your free printable bookmark version of this prayer. (If you’re on mobile, scroll to the bottom of the post for a live link).
Pray Through Conversation
Fill in the Blank Prayer: Take turns going back and forth or from person to person, if you’re in a group, saying, “God is great, God is good, thank you God for ______________.” See how long you can keep it going. It’s fun (and sometimes breathtaking) to hear what your children say. Discussing what is inside our hearts and minds with each other is a crucial way to build relationships. Consequently, this practice builds both relationships with God and with each other.
Prayer Walk: Go for a walk together in search for the things you’re thankful to God for. Sidewalks, trees, bird songs, smiles from other pedestrians, flowers in bloom, passing cars and buses that make travel possible. So much to appreciate! Additionally, this is an excellent way to get outside, slow down the mind and get active together.
Pray Through Silence
Centering Prayer: Pray silently in this way to empty the mind and become open to God’s presence. Young children can struggle to sit quietly and still since their bodies often desire movement and activity. Therefore, two to five minutes can be plenty for young elementary children to start with. Now, for older children, try up to ten minutes once they’re acclimated to the practice. First, invite them to close their eyes and imagine that they are standing in a forest along the side of a stream. Second, explain that when a thought comes into their minds, they can imagine the thought landing on a leaf, floating down onto the surface of the stream and away until it’s out of view.
Breath Prayer: First, choose a word or brief phrase to repeat in one breath. Now, if it’s a phrase, say one part on the inhale and one part on the exhale. For example, invite your children to think in their minds or whisper to themselves Psalm 56:3. Next, on the inhale, think or say “When I am afraid.” Then, on the exhale, think or say “I will trust you.” Repeating breath prayers is a meditative practice that can be done with children of almost any age.
Scripture Prayer: First, choose a Bible verse and use it as a prayer to begin and end each day with your children. Try John 3:18, Psalm 46:1 or Romans 15:13. Additionally, it may be helpful to have it posted by their bed to read together.
Tell Us Your Prayer Ideas for Kids
Phew, that was a lot to take in! We hope this has given you a few ways to pray with kids that help cultivate spiritual growth and connection.
Which ways to pray with kids have you tried? Which are new to you?