Sara Keeling writes about praying with kids over on her blog. I have learned so much from her on this topic and know you will be equally blessed. So I was just tickled when she agreed to share some tips for praying with toddlers. Below you will find her 5 best tips for praying with toddlers. Read them below then go check out her other work at sarah-keeling.com.
Does it seem impossible to create a habit of prayer with a wiggly toddler? While it might not be realistic to spend large amounts of time praying together with your toddler, it is possible to develop some simple prayer routines. Here are a few tips to help you pray with your toddler in a fun and realistic way that will help you not want to run and hide afterwards.
1. Make Your Plan
A toddler’s attention span is very short. Keep in mind that they can only focus for a few minutes. Expect a 2-year-old to focus for 2 minutes and a 3-year-old to focus for 3 minutes. Plan to keep your prayers very short and simple.
2. Set the Scene
Try to find a time and place with the fewest distractions. Remove visual and audio stimuli if possible. Turn off the TV and fully focus on your child. This will help you both connect with each other too.
3. Start with Fun
Begin your prayer time with a fun finger play or rhyme. There are many great options, but here is one of my favorites:
God is listening. God is listening. (point to your ears)
To each word I say. (point to your mouth).
He will hear me. He will hear me. (point to your ears)
Every time I spray. (make praying hands).
Here’s a video example of this finger play:
4. State Your Expectations
In one or two very short sentences, you can teach your child what you expect from this time. Here’s an example, “We are going to be still and talk to God together. When we talk to God He hears our prayers.”
5. Dive in
Keep this time flowing quickly by jumping in with a short prayer. I like to use the format: Praise, Thanks, Request because it keeps me on track and helps me focus on God in my prayers. As children get older, you can add in a short time of confession too.
Here is an example of a bedtime prayer:
God, You are so good.
Thank you for providing the house we get to live in.
Please protect us and help us sleep in Your peace tonight.
In Jesus’ name,
Attach a quick prayer time after an activity you already do every day. This could be during school drop off or pickup, during story time before bed, or while you are eating. You are more likely to remember something new when you attach it to an existing routine.
Extra Bonus tip:
Be sure to show yourself and your children extra kindness and patience as you practice something new. Most new and worthwhile things are not mastered easily overnight. Even if your prayer time feels like a total failure, choose to view it as a success and try again another day. You got this!