Yesterday, I wrote about the blessings of getting healthy with your family. I swam by myself this morning, but Wil and Tammy plan to lift weights together today. I believe it’s imperative that parents turn off the television, put down the iPhone, and teach their children the importance of healthy living.
But, spiritual living is far more important that healthy living. “While bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8). Bodily training lasts only in this life, but godliness lasts into the age which is to come.
An excellent place to begin training our children in righteousness is prayer. Teaching our children to pray begins a lifetime of walking with God. Teaching our children to pray teaches them a lifetime of gratitude. Teaching our children to pray teaches them a lifetime of trust.
How can you teach your children to pray? Here are some ideas:
Pray for specific people.
Take home the weekly bulletin and pray for the sick and the shut-in by name. Teach your children the importance of compassion.
Pray about all their concerns.
Some time ago, I was asked to pray for a sick pet. I found that offensive—yes, I know people dearly love their pets, but there are so many really important things in this world. But, then I remembered the words of holy writ: Cast “all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Worried about a sick pet? Pray about a sick pet. Worried about a test? Pray about a test. Worried about a trip to the dentist? Pray about a trip to the dentist.
I don’t mean to trivialize prayer in any way, shape, or form, but when God says we can cast all our cares on him, he means all.
Pray age-appropriate prayers.
There’s no need to pray in some theological jargon that will confuse children (and many adults). Pray from the heart to God, not to impress anyone.
Pray for future spouses.
Teach your children the importance of thinking about future spouses long before they start dating. Ask for God’s blessings upon a future spouse.
Pray about their Bible classes.
Pray for their teachers. Pray for their fellow students. Pray for hearts ready to receive God’s truth.
Pray for missionaries.
Teach your children the importance of proclaiming the truth to the lost and pray for workers in God’s vineyard.
Pray for widows and orphans.
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27). As part of teaching your children to care for widows and orphans in their affliction, pray for widows and orphans. Pray for the widows/widowers in your congregation. Pray for the children at the children’s home supported by your home church.
Pray for your meals.
Jesus taught us to pray for our daily bread (Matthew 6:11), and Paul taught us that what we eat should be received with thanksgiving (1 Timothy 4:3-4). Teach your children to be thankful for what they eat.
Pray for the church.
Jesus loved the church enough to die for her (Ephesians 5:25), and we surely can love her enough to pray for her. Pray for God’s blessings upon the local elders, the local evangelist(s), and all that the church seeks to do as she strives to glorify God.
Pray for the government.
Your child sees the President and Governor on television, and Paul instructed us to pray for those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Teach your child the importance of praying for our leaders and specifically that they might seek his wisdom.
“Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). What better time to learn to pray unceasingly than when you’re a child and can carry that vital lesson with you the rest of your life? Teach your children to pray today.