Christian Parenting and Family Resources with Biblical Principles

10 Truths to Teach Our Children about Prayer

10 Truths to Teach Our Children about Prayer

My introduction to prayer came at the age of seven. I’d spent the weekend with my grandmother and was sleeping beside her, snuggled deep into the covers. As the early morning light filtered through the curtains of her bedroom window, the sound of her whispered prayer broke through the fog of my fading sleep.

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.”

I listened as Granny prayed for God’s kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. I heard her ask for forgiveness and the power to forgive those who had sinned against her. And I heard her conclude with the soaring words, “For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever and ever, amen.” She ended her prayer, and we rose to a breakfast of Portuguese doughnuts and juice.

In the years since I overheard her whispered prayer, I’ve learned much about this sacred privilege. Here are ten truths I’ve sought to apply and share with my children and now, my grandchildren.

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/ThitareeSarmkasat
  • mom and toddler praying for an abundant life together

    1. Prayer is a privilege.

    History describes how Abraham Lincoln’s son, Tad, would bypass his father’s secretary and dozens of constituents waiting for an audience, fling open the president’s office door, and crawl up into his father’s lap. Any time of the day or night, no matter what important business he interrupted, Tad knew he had immediate access to the president because he was Abe Lincoln’s son.

    I can’t walk into the Oval Office and strike up a conversation with the president. Nor do I have the freedom to approach my governor, senator, or even my family doctor without an appointment. But I can talk to God any time I want because I’m one of His children. Remember how Jesus taught His disciples? “This then, is how you should pray, ‘Our Father . . .’”

    2. Prayer is simply talking to God.

    Sometimes we forget that God is a person—a holy and extraordinary Person—but a person, nonetheless. From the moment He created Adam and Eve, He’s communicated with His people. He walked and talked with them in the Garden. He spoke to the Israelites from a fiery pillar and a bright cloud. Now He communicates with us through the Bible and prayer. We can share our dreams, hopes, fears, and needs with Him and rest in confident assurance that He hears every word we say—fancy or frantic. Our children need to know they can speak, and God will hear.

    3. Prayer isn’t about saying the right words; it’s about sharing our hearts.

    Memorized prayers have their place, but Jesus offered what has become known as the Lord’s Prayer as a guide, not a text to be memorized and repeated mindlessly. The Bible is filled with examples of simple, heartfelt communication between God and people. “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner (Luke 18:13). “I believe, Lord, help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). “Lord, we don’t know what to do” (2 Chronicles 20:12). Thankfully, we don’t have to have a big vocabulary or pray eloquent prayers to get God’s attention. He just wants to hear what’s on our hearts. Some of the sweetest, most faith-filled prayers I’ve ever heard have come from the lips of young children.

    Photo credit: ©Getty Images/tatyana_tomsickova
  • 4. Prayer is a two-way conversation.

    4. Prayer is a two-way conversation.

    For years I thought prayer was about me talking and God listening. Then I learned God has much to say if I stop talking long enough to hear Him speak. As with any other conversation, prayer dialogue should go both ways.

    While He seldom speaks audibly anymore, we still have a sure-fire way to hear God’s voice—through His Word, the Bible. If we want to know God’s will, we can find clear direction on the pages of Scripture. Combining prayer with Bible reading creates the ebb and flow of dialogue that characterizes any good relationship. Evangelist Justin Peers said, “If you want to hear God speak, read your Bible. If you want to hear God speak audibly, read your Bible out loud.” God also speaks through godly Christians, sermons, books, and conversations. We do our children a great service when we model not just how to talk to God, but how to hear Him speak to us.

    5. Prayer isn’t designed to change God’s mind.

    For many years I assumed I had to pester God into giving me something He wasn’t inclined to give. I thought if I badgered Him enough, he’d change His mind and give me what I asked, like a kid pestering his mom for a cookie before dinner.

    However, I’ve learned that prayer is less about changing God’s mind and more about changing mine. The glorious line from the Lord’s Prayer, “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” captures the essence of how we should pray. We should invite God to do His will in every situation. I’m still free to share my (limited) perspective and desires with God in prayer, but ultimately, if I trust Him as my heavenly Father, I will want His good and perfect will to be done in every situation. Training our children to pray this way teaches them humility and trust.

    Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Prostock-Studio

  • 6. Prayer is powerful. 

    6. Prayer is powerful. 

    Through prayer, God has given us the ability to welcome His mighty power into even the darkest situations. Scripture records how prayers offered in faith and humility have opened prison doors, conquered cities, healed the sick, and raised the dead. Modern-day prayers have released persecuted Christians, brought salvation to pagan towns, and protected God’s people from evil forces. As Isaiah the prophet said, “Nothing is impossible with God” (Isaiah 58:1). Our children need to know this.

    7. Prayer is a Christian’s secret weapon.

    In 1962, an outcry arose from believing parents when the US Supreme Court ruled that prayer in public school was unconstitutional. Although public schools are still allowed to have “a moment of silence,” organized prayer can no longer occur in classrooms. Thankfully, no court can take away a Christian’s ability to pray. Because the Holy Spirit lives within us, we can talk to God whenever and wherever we are—sitting in a public-school classroom? Pray. Standing before a hostile group of unbelievers? Pray. Alone in a hospital room? Pray. Prayer is our Christian children’s best defense and surest avenue of help.

    8. Sin can hinder our prayers.

    The psalmist said, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Psalm 66:18). His observation reminds us that we’re less likely to pray the kind of prayers God is pleased to answer when our relationship with Him is at odds. When we’re disobedient, we tend to avoid prayer conversations and hesitate to ask Him for help.

    Our children need to know that just as sin affects our fellowship with each other, it also impacts our fellowship with God. The good news is that He graciously forgives us when we confess and forsake our sin” (1 John 1:9). When we teach them to recognize and confess sin immediately, we help them develop effective prayer lives.

    Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Rawpixel
  • 9. Prayer helps us fight fear.

    9. Prayer helps us fight fear.

    Paul taught the Philippians how to battle fear and anxiety. Our children need to learn this as well. “Do not be anxious about anything,” he wrote, “but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). Teaching our kids to bring their concerns to God in prayer whenever they feel fearful gives them a powerful strategy to control their emotions and tap into God’s power.

    10. Prayer grows our faith and trust.

    When our children pray (and watch us pray), they learn to receive God’s power into their world. They discover God is intimately involved in every aspect of their lives and delights to answer their prayers. Watching God work through prayer helps our kids learn to trust Him, and their faith grows.

    My grandmother’s whispered prayers opened the door to my lifelong pursuit of God. My own prayers have helped me grow to love and trust Him. I loved teaching my children about the joy of praying and watching God work. Now that I’m a grandmother, my goal is to help my grandchildren also become prayer warriors. I hope these ten truths will help you as you shepherd the young people in your life. May God bless you richly as you raise your children in faith.

    Lori Hatcher is the author of five devotionals, including the newly released, Refresh Your Prayers, Uncommon Devotions to Restore Power and Praise. A longtime contributor to Crosswalk, she loves sharing five-minute, story-driven devotions that encourage busy people to draw closer to God. She and her pastor husband live delightfully close to their four grandchildren in Lexington, South Carolina. Connect with her at

    Photo credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/photoguns

    headshot for author Lori HatcherLori Hatcher is a pastor’s wife who lives delightfully close to her four grandchildren in Lexington, South Carolina. To fight spiritual boredom and provide a fresh resource for quiet times, she wrote  Refresh Your Faith – Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible (Our Daily Bread Publishing). Her first book, Hungry for God…Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women , received the 2016 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year award. Lori’s also a blogger, writing instructor, and inspirational speaker. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God...Starving for Time. Connect with her on FacebookTwitter (@LoriHatcher2), or Pinterest (Hungry for God).

    Related podcast:

    The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.

    Related video:

    Are you in the trenches with your toddlers or teens? Read Rhonda's full article here!