Young children think concretely. Use objects when helping them learn to pray.
- A child learns numbers by counting blocks.
- A child learns the alphabet by playing with magnetic letters on the fridge.
- A child learns shapes by holding them in his hand.
- A child learns to pray by repetition.
Even very young children can pray following the ACTS model derived from the Lord's Prayer. By using objects and pictures, you can remind your toddler who and what to pray about. Find items at yard sales, craft stores or even in the toy box. Then store the items in a shoe box.
The Prayer Box Recipe
Adoration: Praise God for who He is.
- Real or play money: God is our Provider (I Timothy 6:17)
- Band-Aids: God is our healer (Psalm 103:3)
- Wrapped Lifesaver candy: He saves us (Matthew 1:21)
Confession: Repent of sin.
- Mr. Potato Head tongue: teasing, arguing, lying (James 1:26)
- Wooden spoon: stirring up trouble (Proverbs 10:12)
- Compact mirror: being selfish and having bad attitudes (Psalm 139:23-24)
Thanksgiving: Express gratitude.
- A Popsicle stick cross: for Jesus and salvation
- A Pocket Bible (matchbook-size papers stapled together titled "Bible"): for God's Word
- A small photo album: for friends and family
Supplication: Make requests for others and myself.
- Toy car or motorcycle: for safety in travel
- Little flashlight: for God's light to show the way
- A watch: for spending time with family, friends and Jesus.
Cooking Up a Prayer
Just as God cannot be contained in a box, neither should your family's prayers be limited to items found in your collection. Shuffle the objects, and add to them over time. You may want to include a list of objects and prayer reminders so you can remember what each object represents.
Separating the various groups in a Ziploc bag can be helpful. Write A, C, T or S on each bag with a permanent marker. Introduce one bag at a time or even just one item at a time. Instead of saying, "God bless Grandma," children can use the toy car as a reminder to pray specifically for Grandma to be safe as she drives.
At bedtime, you might pray only Adoration or Thankfulness prayers. Worries and fears can flood a child's mind during the night. Teach him to focus on the Lord and His blessings.
Confession objects might be intro-duced with your own prayers of confession. After all, children know when you have blown it. Keep praying for the Holy Spirit's leading to prompt an attitude of repentance. Do not push kids to pray prayers of confession if they don't want to.
Remember: God always answers prayers. Be on the lookout for those answers so you and your child can share in His goodness!