We understand the value of prayer in our lives and the lives of our children as parents. However, encouraging kids to love prayer might be difficult. Here are five simple suggestions for teaching your kids to appreciate prayer, drawn from the teachings of contemporary prophets.
1. Set an example
Children learn by example. If they see their parents consistently praying, it will become a natural part of their lives. Elder Robert D. Hales said, “Teaching our children to pray is essential. But perhaps more important is our example of prayer. Our children need to see and hear us pray. They need to hear us share with the Lord our concerns, our gratitude, and our pleading in their behalf” (Elder Robert D. Hales, “Preparing for a Heavenly Home,” Ensign, Nov. 2006).
2. Keep it simple
Prayer doesn’t have to be a formal, lengthy process. Encourage your children to talk to Heavenly Father in their own words. President Boyd K. Packer said, “The simple secret is this: we must teach our children to pray, and they must see us praying. They will learn more from our example than from anything we may say about prayer” (President Boyd K. Packer, “Prayer and Promptings,” Ensign, Nov. 2009).
3. Make it a regular habit
Encourage your children to pray regularly, not just during family prayer or at church. Help them understand that they can pray anytime, anywhere. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “It is never too early for a child to learn how to pray. And we should teach them to pray regularly, not just when they need divine help, and not just on Sunday. Daily family prayer and regular personal prayers can help our children be more sincere and effective in their prayers” (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “Teaching Children to Understand and Love the Scriptures,” Ensign, Jan. 1996).
4. Teach them to listen
Prayer is not just about talking to Heavenly Father but also about listening for His answers. Encourage your children to listen for the promptings of the Holy Ghost during and after their prayers. President Henry B. Eyring said, “As you help children learn to pray, teach them to listen for the answers. They may not come quickly or directly, but the answers will come” (President Henry B. Eyring, “The Family,” Ensign, Aug. 2014).
5. Make it personal
Encourage your children to pray about their own concerns, not just general blessings. Help them understand that Heavenly Father wants to hear from them and wants to help them. President Thomas S. Monson said, “We should remember that the Lord often speaks to us through the voice of another. We must be prayerful and listen carefully, however. We should reach out, not only to our Heavenly Father but also to those around us” (President Thomas S. Monson, “Priesthood Power,” Ensign, Nov. 2011).
Helping your children love to pray is a process that requires patience and consistency. By setting an example, keeping it simple, making it a regular habit, teaching them to listen, and making it personal, you can help your children develop a love for prayer that will bless their lives now and in the future. As Elder Richard G. Scott said, “Communicating with our Father in Heaven through prayer is essential to our spiritual development and well-being. He wants to hear from us” (Elder Richard G. Scott, “Using the Supernal Gift of Prayer,” Ensign, May 2007).
What tips would you give to a parent trying to help their children love prayer?