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Kids as Students and Teachers in the School of Prayer

“I tell my Daddy, ‘I love you, Daddy,’” the four-year-old girl said.

I had just asked the kids at our church’s Prayer Gathering what they ask their parents for. My point in teaching about the “Our Father in heaven” opening of the Lord’s Prayer was that we can ask God for and talk to Him about anything at all. Her point was better: Telling my father how I feel toward him and resting in our loving relationship is foundational to prayer.

Sometimes kids teach us way more than we teach them. That experience continued in the small group portion of the Prayer Gathering. I was walking our group of eight adults and eight kids through a time of prayer based on ACTS, the simple method I learned in my childhood. Already I was thinking “Adoration”? These kids don’t know what that means, so how will it help them remember how to pray? “Confession” made a bit more sense, and “Thanksgiving” was great. And then we got to “S.” “What do y’all think ‘S’ stands for,” I said as I shook my head at myself, knowing they wouldn’t know “Supplication.”

“Please,” said a boy old enough to know it didn’t start with “S.” His small group had been learning a prayer mnemonic much more helpful than mine, and he knew this would be the “Please” section. Having had the privilege of praying with these kids and hearing their hearts in talking to God, I wanted to come up with something from what they had taught me. What kinds of things do kids and adults talk to God about when we pray?

While there’s no limit to what we can talk to God about, here are some simple categories to use to help your kids (Pro Tip: I’ve found them really helpful for me, too!). While I haven’t found anyone else combining them in exactly the same way I’m using them, none of these is original to me. But here’s a resource I’ll use with kids at our next Prayer Gathering (this Sunday, March 8) based on things they know how to say:

“I love you” – This is where we tell God what an awesome Father He is and think of reasons from his Word and our lives about why we love Him. 

“I’m sorry” – This is the part where we talk to God about our sin and our need for Him, particularly for his forgiveness and his strength in our weakness.

“Thank you” – This is where we consider what God has done in our lives, what He has given us, how He is working, and we give thanks to Him for that.

“Please” – This is where we ask God to take care of us, to help us and others, to work in our church as a whole as well as particular individuals.

I hope you’ll find this helpful with your kids, and I hope you’ll join us Sunday night at 5:00pm to pray together. You just might find that some of the kids there help you learn about talking to your Father.