5 simple ways to help your child pray…without making him sit still!

There is nothing in the Bible that says your child has to sit still and fold his hands in order to pray.

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Ugh, it was prayer time AGAIN!

My boys were wonderfully attentive all through reading time, even through devotion time. But the minute we asked them to pray, it was chaos. Feet kicked, legs squirmed, eyes darted around the room. Mouths wagged, fingers poked, and torsos wiggled.

What had happened to our children?

They reminded me of a ladybug crawling up my hand, incessantly moving even if I flipped my hand upside down, like something within them was resisting sitting still for even one.more.second.

connecting God and children

So why bother? I can just pray a two-sentence prayer and move on with life. And sometimes that’s ok. But if we want our kids to truly connect with God in a meaningful way, we must help them directly communicate with their Creator and Saviour. And that means pushing through the hard, uncomfortable stuff.

But what if your kids are like mine – insanely squirmy and not interested in prayer at all? Well my friend, I have good news for you!

Prayer doesn’t have to be boring!

There is nothing in the Bible that says that prayer must be done while sitting still with eyes closed and hands folded nicely in a lap.

What? For real? Do you mean we DON’T have to sit still, close our eyes, and fold our hands? Honestly I have no idea where that comes from, although my guess is that it got started by frustrated parents because their kids were pinching each other during prayer…

But you know what? It’s just a tradition! And traditions aren’t always helpful to our children.

There is no correct posture for prayer.

In the Bible people prayed on their knees (1 Kings 8:54), bowing (Exodus 4:31), on their faces before God (2 Chronicles 20:18; Matthew 26:39), and standing with hands lifted (1 Kings 8:22).

Allowing movement during prayer can be a great gift to wiggly children, allowing them to be who God created them to be and connect with Him in their own unique way. 

Here are some ideas that have worked in our family. If there is something that particularly works with your children, please share in the comments so that others can glean from your experience!

There is nothing in the Bible that says your child has to sit still and fold his hands in order to pray.

1. PRAYER PATTERN

The first thing that worked for us was a Prayer Pattern, which helped the squirminess because they knew what to expect, and had guidance in what to say. Because you know what? When you have NO idea what you’re supposed to say, it’s a lot easier to get distracted or zone out! Am I right? Providing this structure has made a huge difference, even for us adults!

If you click over to this post, you’ll find a better description of Prayer Patterns, as well as some printable journal pages you can use!

2. PRAYER JOURNAL

Prayer journals can be done even with the youngest children. We divide up the journals with four headings:

  1. Praise
  2. Sorry
  3. Please
  4. Thanks

If you have time, you can find online pictures depicting things your child could pray about (or print off these cute ones!), but if you don’t have time for printing pictures in advance, you can simply have your children draw or write out their own prayers.

3. PRAYER BOX

This is similar to the prayer journal, but a little less structured.

Use a small box or pencil case to hold your prayers. Have your child draw or write a prayer then tuck it into the box. Every once in a while, read through the papers as a reminder of what God has done for you!

Alternately, you can write prayer requests on several cards, then have your child pull one at random and pray over it. We did this by accident once (because there was a miscommunication about how to use the box…) and it worked really well for one of our boys.

4. USE A “TALKING STICK”

My eldest really enjoys when we pray with an object, which acts as a “talking stick”. Whoever has the object says a quick prayer, then passes it to someone else. (or in our house, it gets chucked…)

We have used a variety of objects, including a rolled up pair of socks, a rock, or a book. Sometimes this deteriorates into something quite silly, but other times it becomes deep and meaningful. This is a great way to pray with a group of kids, and can be done with any items you have on hand!

click here to teach your child to pray

5. FULL BODY PRAYER

In the absence of any supplies, even your own body can be turned into a prayer. I have had my boys lay prostrate, kneel, or hold out their hands. Children with good imaginations could pretend to build an altar while praying, adding an imaginary rock for each prayer. Older children could even be taken on a prayer walk outside.

Above all, remember this truth…

Are you looking for some other resources for helping your kids (or yourself) learn to pray? Check out my new resource, described by readers as being very powerful and inspiring, called “Made to Pray: a 12 day prayer journey for the whole family”. In it, you will find 12 simple prayer exercises that will get you out of a prayer rut and truly connecting with the God of the universe!

Click here to read more.

Made to pray: a 12-day prayer journey for the whole family

You may also like this post: Quick ideas for praying with squirmy kids