This article looks at small children and prayer.

Source: New Horizons, 1987. 1 pages.

From Peanut Prayers to Piping Praise

Leading our covenant children in their walk with the Lord is a remarkable privilege and a holy obligation. One essential step in this walk of faith and obedience is prayer. And we start with even the youngest child.

Before praying, think through the child's ideas with him. Concrete, everyday situations might prompt prayer or you might want to guide with suggestions – safety for Daddy on his trip or rain for the thirsty garden.

It is appropriate for us to train a child to ask God for certain things which are needed. And, as a child begins to observe the conventions of politeness in the home, he can also learn to honor the One from whom all good and perfect gifts come. Giving thanks and praise will naturally result as prayer is answered.

Begin simply, using familiar words and short sentences so that the child can easily repeat them with you. “Let's thank God for this warm sunshine” will easily be translated to “Thank you, God, for sending the sunshine?” Before long he will no longer need to echo you but will eagerly go ahead without the extra help.

This is a good time to encourage reverence, as the very throne of the Lord is approached. Stress that God is a great God. It is very special to talk with him and to know that he will hear us.

As parents we need to beware of unreasonable prayers, that is, prayers that are contrary to what we know of God as revealed in his word. One kindergarten girl prayed, “Dear Jesus, please make my dog all better,” when in fact the dog had already died. We know of no cases in which Jesus raised animals from the dead.

On the other hand, we must promote prayers offered with faith, even when our reasonable adult minds would hesitate. Despite record-breaking snow accumulations, my four-year-old daughter prayed last winter that God would send her lost cat, Peanut, safely home. I am ashamed to admit that after several months had passed, I wasn't expecting the cat's imminent arrival. But one crisp, white morning we opened the door and discovered Peanut patiently waiting to be let into the farmhouse. A marvelous prayer of thanks was offered that day!

As the child grows, he can begin to pray about more abstract matters which affect him and others. Appropriate petitions would include help in trusting Jesus as Savior, forgiveness for sin and faith for an unbelieving friend or relative.

Teaching by example can be very natural. As the boy or girl hears Mom asking for help in spending the grocery money, he or she will learn that God grants wisdom. Of course, reading God's word together will provide abundant opportunities for prayer in the form of praise, supplication or thanksgiving.

So pray for your child – but also with him. There is a peculiar delight in hearing your son or daughter praying to the heavenly Father who sent his Son as the offering for our sins.

Once they begin, however, you may have difficulty in stopping them! This year my husband and I have three young voices piping around our table, each wanting to thank God for the dinner in turn. The meal may grow cold, but the One who provided it must be properly thanked. So we will wait.

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