Training Our Children to Pray

Recently, as I was leading our family devotional time at the dinner table, I decided to use the four questions I often train on: Who is God? What has He Done? Who are we? What do we do? As we looked at a biblical text, I guided them through these questions. While doing so, it dawned on me that our answers could be helpful guides toward prayer.

Who is God?

As they answered the question, What do we know about Who God is from this text? I encouraged them to stop and pray prayers of adoration and praise: God we praise you because you are so powerful. God you are the Creator of all things. God you are in control.

What has He done?

Next, we asked What does this text show that God has done or is doing? And How is he doing that in our lives today? As they answered that question we took the time to pray prayers of thanksgiving for how God was and is at work: God, you have provided great gifts for us, especially Jesus. God, you gave us a sunny day today. Thank you for the sunshine. God, thank you for being in control of our lives and circumstances. You have done so many good things for us like providing our home, our friends and our healthy bodies to play sports.

Who are We?

Then, we asked What does this text say is true of us? As they answered that question, I encouraged them to ask if they were living like they believed it. Where they were not living in line with the truth of their new identity in Christ, we took some time to confess who God says we are and how we’ve fallen short. They prayed prayers like: God you say that we are your children whom you love very much but we don’t always act like loving children to others. Forgive us and help us to love others like you loved us in Jesus. God you say we are your creation and that you did good work in making us, but we don’t always believe that about ourselves or others. Forgive us and help us to see ourselves and others like you do.

What Do We Do?

Lastly, we asked the question If we believe these truths about God, God’s work, and our new identity in Christ, what would we do? As we answered this last question, I encouraged them to be very specific. As they shared, I encouraged each of them to turn their answer into a prayer of supplication, asking God to help them to obey him. God, I want to love my sisters better. Help me to think of them and their needs and not just what I want. God, I really get anxious and worried about my grades. Help me to trust that you are in control even of my grades and not to give in to fear. God, help me to be a better friend to my classmates who are often left alone without a friend.

By directing their answers toward prayer, I was able to lead them in prayers of adoration, thanksgiving, confession and supplication. And each of their prayers was grounded in the character and work of God in Christ and their new identity as a result.


Jeff Vanderstelt

Jeff Vanderstelt is the visionary leader of Saturate, the Soma Family of Churches, and the lead teaching pastor of Doxa Church in Bellevue, WA. He also travels around the US and the world equipping the Church in the gospel and missional living. He is the author of "Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life." He and Jayne, his wife of 22 years, have three children; Haylee, Caleb, and Maggie.