Family Prayer Myths
As parents, we believe many myths about family prayer that prevent us from engaging our kids in the practice of talking with God together. Many of the obstacles regarding family prayer begin in our minds. If we recognize what the myths are and replace them with God’s truths, we can overcome these barriers and experience the power of praying together as a family.
Myth: Kids will sit still for prayer.
Reality: Kids are wiggly! Their physical movements do not mean they are not listening and absorbing what you are saying. Allow your kids to wiggle as long as they are not super disruptive or distracting. I often pray that I will be able to focus despite their wiggles, and that has greatly helped me.
Myth: Kids should be excited to pray.
Reality: Anytime we learn a new skill, our brains are working overtime and making new connections. Oftentimes, even for adults, this effort can cause frustration. When our family studied Spanish intensively in Mexico, we had terrible brain fog and headaches at the end of the day. Thankfully, as we continued to study and our brains and bodies adjusted to our new practices, our symptoms improved. But in the midst of our struggles, we were tempted to quit. Expect frustration and even opposition to learning a new skill while calmly persevering. You can do it!
Myth: Prayer needs to be fancy and lengthy.
Reality: Short and simple prayers are just as powerful as long and fancy prayers. Kids will understand and emulate more effectively if you use easy-to-understand words and keep your prayers short. Modify your prayers based on the ages of your kids, and pray toward the youngest age in your family. We like to use the format: praise, thanks, request, and confess. This helps us stay on track while also modeling biblical principles in the things we pray for.
Myth: You need to pray perfectly in front of your kids.
Reality: You aren’t perfect, and it is OK for your kids to see that. Your job as a parent isn’t to save your kids, but to guide and shepherd them to their Perfect Savior. Embracing our imperfections actually makes space for your kids to embrace theirs. Give yourself grace and model to them that you are learning more about Jesus every day, too. Furthermore, when we are in Christ, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. Isn’t that such a relief? God Himself helps us pray. What a gift!
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”
— Romans 8:26 NIV
Myth: Prayer needs to be serious and solemn.
Reality: Prayer can be fun and interactive! Jesus welcomed the little children with all their silly antics, questions, and interruptions. He loves them as children and he invites them to come to him just as they are. Prayer time can be light and fun without diminishing the power of talking to God. For younger kids, begin your prayer time with a finger-play rhyme. We like this one:
God is listening.
God is listening.
To each word I say.
He will hear me.
He will hear me.
Every time I pray.
to watch a quick example of this finger play and the hand motions.
Other options might be going for a prayer walk, using prayer prompts on cards, and drawing prayers. This is a great book
full of prayer resources to help engage your kids in prayer.
Myth: You don’t have time to pray with your kids.
Reality: You don’t need much time to sneak in a powerful prayer time for your family. Find a routine that you currently have with your kids and attach a prayer time to it. Pray every morning in the car on the way to school, or every night before bed. You could even pray with your kids while they brush their teeth. Experiment and see what works best with your family.
Myth: Kids can’t learn to pray Scripture.
Reality: Kids are way more capable than we give them credit for. Of course, it isn’t easy, but most worthwhile skills aren’t learned overnight., but the payoff of teaching your kids how to pray Scripture is enormous. You’re giving them a tool they will use for the rest of their lives! We taught our oldest son to pray the attributes of God found in the Psalms and we have been amazed to see his prayer life come alive. Praying Scripture makes our prayers powerful and it increases our knowledge of God. What a gift to give to our children!
Myth: Family prayer time isn’t as important as family Bible study.
Reality: Teaching your kids how to talk to God is just as important as teaching them how to learn about God. We want them to learn how to develop a relationship with God, which includes talking to Him and knowing him personally. We want them to learn how to experience God’s presence and peace after sitting still and listening for His voice. We want them to learn how to confess their sins and experience His forgiveness and restoration. Prayer is a vital part of our Christian walk, and it deserves as much attention as Bible study.
Myth: It’s too hard to pray with my kids.
Reality: God made you to do hard things. It may be challenging at first, but teaching your kids how to seek and spend time with their Maker is worth it. Of course, the enemy is going to oppose that and try to make it more difficult for you. But our God is much more powerful than the enemy and He will help you when you ask Him!
My prayer is that busting these myths will help you overcome the obstacles that come with faithfully pursuing family prayer. Ask the Lord to show you which myths you might believe and He will help you replace them with truths from His word. I encourage you to start slowly, set realistic expectations, and lean into the hard together. You can do it!
For Further Reading:
For the family looking to make prayer FUN!
If you want to take a step back and learn more about why teaching your kids to pray matters.