How to Pray With Your Toddler

Prayer. I can’t imagine my life without it, as I’m sure you can’t either. Imagine not being able to cast our anxieties upon the Lord. Imagine not having the hope of knowing our God hears us and cares (1 Peter 5:7). 

Prayer is vital to our health as children of God. Without it, we are tempted to believe we can take on all of life’s trials without the strength of the One who gives us the resources to overcome. 

Apart from our great need for it, it is also the Lord’s will for us to pray to Him (1 Thessalonians 5:18). In fact, He has called us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). 

Yes, prayer is important. However, it can also be a bit intimidating if you aren’t familiar with it. 

What should I say to the God of the universe that won’t be a waste of His time?

Let’s address that question first. 

Think about your baby for a minute. If your child comes to you and says, “I want to talk to you, but I feel like I’m wasting your time,” how would you feel?

I imagine it would break your heart. Why then, would God, who is more patient, loving, kind, gracious, and good than we could ever hope to be, not feel that same sorrow when we say that to Him?

He’s a better parent than you or I will ever be, and He loves us more than we could ever try to love our children. Therefore, we have to stop limiting His nature to that of a sinful man. 

He loves you. He wants to hear from you. He desires for you to talk to him. 

But what if I sound dumb?

Matthew 6:7-8 tells us that when we pray, we are not to throw up “empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

In simple terms, there’s no need for big, intelligent words when talking to God. He KNOWS you.

When Joshua and I started getting to know each other, I remember putting great care into how each text message was written. If I remember correctly, Joshua was also very intentional about how he wrote his messages. We sounded a whole lot smarter than we probably were.

You relate, right? If so, then you’d probably agree that if your spouse started talking to you now like they did in the beginning, it would be more than a little weird. All of the punctuation would probably make you think they’re mad at you.

Your spouse knows you more than anyone else on this earth, right? Well, God knows you even more intimately. He literally knows your thoughts (Psalm 139:1-4). He is the One who knitted you together in your mama’s womb. He KNOWS knows you.

He doesn’t want your mask. He desires that you be honest and vulnerable with Him. So, throw off the anxiety that’s preventing you from talking to Him. 

How do I teach my children to pray?

I believe one of the greatest gifts we can give our babies is the comfort of going to their Father in prayer. We want prayer to be their second nature. So, how do we teach that?

As in most cases, children learn best by example. If you want your babies to be comfortable with praying, you must also be comfortable with praying. 

If this is something you’re still learning, that’s okay! PRACTICE! What do I mean by that? Allow yourself to feel that uncomfortableness, and pray anyway.

Pray when you’re stressed about your finances. 

Thank God when you’re having an especially sweet time with your husbands.

At bedtime, snuggle your littles, and tell God how much you love them and are grateful to be their mommy. 

Ask them to pray with you if they’re old enough to talk and repeat words. 

Sample Toddler Prayer

This is what a prayer with my little boy looks like. I usually say a few words and then have him repeat it.

Dear Jesus, 
Thank you for Lightning McQueen. 
Thank you for Daddy, Mommy, and Jackson. 
Please help us to be kind today. 
Please save Jackson.
We love you so much. 

We keep it very simple and pray about things I know Jackson cares about. 

Does he always want to pray when I ask him? Definitely not. In those times, I still pray as I normally would with him, but I don’t make him repeat it. Usually, I have Lightning McQueen or Mater pray with me instead. That alone can sometimes change his mind, and he’ll want to pray with us. 

This teaches him that prayer is important without irritating him. After a little while, you’ll probably find that your little ones like it a lot more than you might have imagined them liking it. 

Don’t be discouraged if it takes a little longer. Each kid is different. What’s most important is that you’re consistent. And remember, we should always lead by example. Let your babies see you pray, and let your babies see their daddy pray.

Tips for praying with your kids

Okay, mama, I have some tips! I only have one kid right now, so I’m most familiar with what works best with him. However, I’ve done some research and found some good additional tips that might be helpful to you as well.

  1. Keep prayers short and sweet. Over time, they can get longer and more serious, but you’re working with a very short attention span right now.
  2. Pray about things that your little ones care about. If they got to eat a cookie today, thank God for cookies. If they love Bluey, thank God for Bluey. If they have an ouchie, ask God to heal it.
  3. Get their favorite toys to pray with you.
  4. Don’t get mad at them if they don’t want to pray. We want them to LIKE talking to Jesus. It’s hard to like something when someone is screaming at you to like it.
  5. Pray multiple times a day. As you know, toddlers need routine. So, praying at certain times of the day can help them become more comfortable with it. Jackson and I pray in the morning and right before bedtime.
  6. Ask him/her if there’s anything they want to pray for. This can be as simple as asking, “What else?” after you say thank you for Mommy and Daddy. They might surprise you! 
  7. Tell them that Jesus is ALWAYS with them and ALWAYS hears them. They can pray whenever and wherever they like, and Jesus will be there to listen.
  8. Get Daddy to pray. Most men I know seem very timid about praying out loud. If your man struggles with this too, what better way to help him than to lead his babies in prayer? Plus, the kids will probably think it’s even cooler because dad is doing it.
  9. “Please save ___.” This is an easy way to introduce them to “salvation” from a young age. They probably won’t think anything of it now, but eventually, they will ask what it means, and you will have the COOLEST conversation(s) of your life!!!

Our toddlers won’t be toddlers forever. Now will be the easiest time to make prayer normal and comfortable for them. 

Remember, we’re shooting for simple and natural. The same goes for you! I pray you and your little ones get to share sweet conversations with Jesus today. 

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