Yesterday our church had a prayer service as our main worship service. It was such a great service. Our pastor left it open ended and led us through small group prayers based on the ACTS Method. I’ll get into that in case you aren’t familiar with it, but I want to focus on the idea of modeling prayer for your kids.
Prayer is something that I participate in so regularly as a part of church services, and in my personal time with God, that it can slip my mind that it’s not something that always comes naturally to kids.
This service gave me a great opportunity for modeling prayer for my children. All three of my kids sit in worship service each week with me. I love that my church emphasizes worshiping as a family. And this is a great example of a time when it was so great to have my kids right there to see this act of worship.
The ACTS Method
If you aren’t familiar with this method, it is such a simple way to grow your prayer life. It emphasizes rounding out your prayer to include Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication (requests). Prayer is meant to be more than just a list of things you want God to do in your life or provide you with. Those requests have a place, but God’s role is so much more than just giving us what we need/want.
I loved modeling this for my kids! At first both my oldest said they didn’t want to pray. I told them that’s fine, but they had to sit quietly with us. I think it was more about praying out loud with adults than about prayer itself. Whatever their reason, after I prayed, they both changed their mind and participated in each prayer time.
Kids Need Specifics
Kids need specific guidelines. If you have kids, you have probably encountered a time when you gave instructions and your kids took it literally as they understood it, and the outcome was not what you had in mind.
I remember trying to get a good picture of my toddler twins. It felt like herding cats! At one point when they for some reason felt very interested in their own feet, I called out ‘look up girls.’ Only to have them look straight up at the ceiling.
I have often heard kids pray for everything from pets, to the scrape on their knee. These are the things that are important to them, and there is something sweet about them bringing these requests before God. But as a parent, I also want to lead them to something deeper. The ACTS method, brings them to think about how they can praise God, reminds them that they need to confess their sins. Maybe it also introduces the idea to them that they have sins to confess! It teaches thankfulness and then it provides for us to ask of God what we need.
Modeling Prayer in Your Home
Prayer services are awesome, but they might not happen every week as a part of your corporate worship. That’s okay, because you can do this at home. In fact, I encourage you to take time to pray with your kids every night at bedtime. Nightly prayer is a great family activity, but it is easy for this to become a rote activity for kids.
I even struggle with this myself, I find myself just going through the motions because it is such a part of our routine. To help with this, I created these prayer guide cards which are available in my resource library.
I suggest that you talk about the ACTS method with your kids. Then, as a family fill out at least one of the prayer guide card per family member. there are extra spaces at the bottom for you to add friends or family members who are sick, and other specific requests you have.
Filling Out the Cards
Take some time one night to brainstorm prayer requests. You can continually add requests as they come up, but in the beginning you will need to fill out all the cards. Add your pastor and other staff members from your church, you can also add Sunday School teachers if you have extra lines.
Next add some missionaries and missionary families. This might take a little research on your part, but you should be able to find out about some through your church. Many missionaries send out a regular email newsletter. Try to contact them to get on the list so that you can pray specifically for their needs. Make an effort to include local and foreign missionaries on your cards.
Next add teachers. These might be your child’s teachers at school or teachers from church. Also add a government official to each card. Pray for local and national government leaders.
You may want to add the acronym ACTS to the top of the card to remind yourselves to pray with this method. Pass out the cards randomly each night when you pray, so that you see a different card every day. Encourage kids to pray for the things on the card that they want to. Remind them that they don’t have to pray for every item on every night, but to pray more like a real conversation. They can pray according to the ACTS method, including these requests as they are led.
Make sure that you are modeling the ACTS method when you pray, and include the requests from your card. Thank God for your child’s teachers. Ask God’s help for a sick friend, praise him for answered requests. You can pray for things not on the card also, but this gives an easy to follow starting place, for those times you or your kids feel stuck.
Get the Prayer Guide Cards here.
If this feels overwhelming, I suggest trying it for a few days on your own, then try it with your kids for a week. Find out more about growing your own prayer life here.