Sips & Scripts: Developing Prayer in Kids


This is Erica.

Her drink is a maple syrup latte with extra whipped cream. 

And you know you’ve got a couple of moms together on Zoom when one utters “So… my kid threw up like six minutes ago. He’s in the bath now, and I can hear him making animal noises, so we are good for a little while.”We moms are used to fitting our ministry work into the small little pockets of time that we can, and it doesn’t always go exactly as planned. But God sees our efforts.

Erica is a mother of five who is currently writing a manuscript for her upcoming book about praying with children. Her working title is Pray With Me: Help Your Children Engage in Authentic and Powerful Prayer. So we made the most of our sick-kid-in-bath time, and tackled the topic of developing prayer in children.

THE IMPETUS FOR THE BOOK

I asked Erica what led her to write a book on praying with children and she responded that it was a combination of things. 

“I spent years in children’s ministry, and I discovered that kids didn’t seem to understand the power of prayer nor how to engage in prayer in a meaningful way.

Also, I am a speaker, and I am asked to speak on praying with children more than any other topic. So this tells me there is a demand—a hunger—out there for parents to help their children engage in prayer.

And, of course, my own personal relationship with God fuels me to help my children develop that kind of prayerful relationship. I want my kids to know that prayer isn’t just a ritual. Prayer guides our every move:

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying ‘This is the way; walk in it

Isaiah 30.21, NIV

Prayer has the power to change events on earth.”

PRAYER LIFE IS THE ROOTS TO THE TREE

“Our prayer lives are a lot like roots to a tree. Hidden. Not always elegant. But they are what make a tree sturdy and stable. The time we spend alone with God is what makes us sturdy and stable and helps us produce good fruit.

I have a core verse for my prayer life and for my book project, Jeremiah 17:7:

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water. It sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes, its leaves are always green, it has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.

This kind of trust doesn’t happen overnight. This kind of trust is grounded—it comes from regularly trusting Him, from knowing God, from relying on God over and over again.”

MODELING PRAYER TO KIDS

“One of the most important practices for developing prayer in children is modeling prayer in the home. Consider how we model our belief in the power of seatbelts; we refuse to drive without them buckled. This kind of belief modeling helps our kids understand that seatbelts are valuable and important to us. So, we show our kids that we are called to sit before God’s throne and petition him to help with problems on earth by letting them see us pray—by inviting them into our prayers.

Right now, my brother-in-law is in a medically-induced coma.  And yes, we are helping the family physically.  But more than that, we are actively and continually praying for them, and our kids are part of this.  

We teach our kids to pray as if we hold the outcome in our hands, but we also maintain that God is the one who answers prayers in His own time and manner.”

UNANSWERED PRAYERS AND TOUGH CONVERSATIONS

“My young son came down all dressed up to go to grandma’s house.  I asked him why he thought he was going to grandma’s house.  He told me that he prayed for four sleepovers at grandma’s, so he got himself ready for them. This promoted a conversation about the nature of prayer.

There isn’t going to be one easy answer when kids ask why their prayer wasn’t answered.  It will take multiple conversations about God’s sovereignty, and how God’s timeline may be different from the one we expect, in order for kids to understand that prayer requests are not like asking a genie in a bottle.  Just because the conversations may not land the first time does not mean we should give up on them.

But we shouldn’t shy away from the fact that we don’t always know why our prayer goes unanswered. There is still a mystery to the way God runs his kingdom.”

GIVING KIDS A PRAYER TOOL

“I am a big fan of teaching kids to pray within a structure. One might object that we should be able to pray whatever we want, whenever we want. While this is true, I hypothesize that we adults don’t actually vary our prayers very much. We have probably a dozen or so templates of prayers that we vary. Giving kids a structure for praying actually allows them to relax into the process a bit more and not freeze up without knowing where to start.

So, for getting kids started with prayer, I like the acronym PRAY:

P praise– we adore and worship Him

R repent– we confess our sins

A ask– we request he help us

Y yield– we yield ourselves to Him and listen for His promptings

The original ‘Y’ stands for ‘Your will be done,’ which I still encourage my kids to end with, but I changed the Y to ‘yield’ in order for the kids to leave a space for God to speak to them.”

LISTENING FOR GOD

“I make sure my kids know that God won’t automatically start speaking to them every single time they get to Y; he speaks in different ways and in moments that we can’t control. Sometimes, he speaks to us through a memory or a feeling.

Like unanswered prayers, the topic of hearing the voice of God is a very difficult concept to teach children. But again, we parents shouldn’t avoid trying to explain it just because it is complex.

Lean into the tough conversations, parents.”

ERICA’S BOOK ON PRAYER

I asked Erica what she is most excited about in terms of her new book. She broke it into two parts: excitement for her family and excitement for the reader.

“For me personally, I am excited for something in my ministry to benefit my children. I am a public speaker, and I used to host a radio show—neither of which brought in tangible benefits for my family. Though first books don’t pay all that well, I am hoping this book may become a stepping stone to other opportunities. Of course, they understand that ministry is service and that I don’t do it simply to receive something in return. But I have been putting so much of my time and myself into these endeavors, and there really hasn’t been much that has directly benefited my family so far.

For the reader, I am excited for my book to offer tools and inspiration for mothers to start the practice of praying with her children. Praying with kids not only makes important memories, but it offers these sweet kids a chance to know Christ for themselves.  

Knowing God and discerning His voice has never been more important than now– we exist in a culture that is very messy and moving further away from Him.”

CONNECT WITH ERICA

Erica’s book will come out in April 2023.  Make sure to give Erica a follow, so that you can follow her journey through writing this incredible book.

To follow Erica on Instagram click @erica.renaud

To follow Erica on Facebook click @EricaRenaudSpeaker

Visit Erica’s website: click EricaRenaud.org

I, for one, am so grateful that I found Erica and her beautiful mission of prayer.

with His love,

Adelaide