Encouraging Children to Pray

Proud Faithful Blogger!

My maternal grandma taught me an 18th century prayer that I said at bedtime from age 3 until age 10.  I distinctly remember laying beside her in her big bed, repeating the words as best as I could.

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I shall die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

(Did you, or do you, pray this prayer?  Check out some of the variations here!)

Sometime after becoming a “big girl,” I stopped saying the prayer.  That is, until I was a member of a soccer team and I promised God that if He allowed us to win the game, I’d pray to Him for as long as I lived.

Well, we won the game and I went back to praying.  Ironically, it was the same prayer grandma taught me.  Years later, my Mama watched in my little sister’s doorway as I knelt beside her bed and taught her the prayer, too.

I still pray it to this day (although I’ve changed/added some words and get into some extra verbage now that I understand the importance of talking with the Lord) with no shame.

God, lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
And if I die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.  God bless everyone that I love, Amen.

Prayer is second nature to me because it was introduced to me at an early age.  Even when I decided life was too fun to pay direct attention to God, I was still aware of prayer.  I watched family members pray over meals (and snacks without a second thought) and pray before they started and ended their day.  It just seemed like the thing to do.  After all, the people I loved and cared about the most did it.  In a Southern Baptist family, everybody’s doing it. (Heh heh heh, couldn’t resist throwing that line in there, lol.)

Nonetheless, Scripture teaches us in Deuteronomy 4:9 that we are not to “forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live.  Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”  This is definitely not the first verse that references children, but this one stands out to me because it identifies the importance of observing actions.

The actions of my family, for example, were those of Christians who know and believe in the power of prayer.  They passed down to my generation the things they’ve seen and what their heart has withstood.  It’s my generation’s turn, no, our responsibility, to do the same for the next.

When my nephew became interested in reading, I bought him a few Veggie Tales books to start his collection.  He had already watched other family member’s pray, so he’d mimic us just like I once did.  There’s no telling if the Veggie Tales books are still important to him, but when the first few stories he ever had read to him were about Christian morality, I know I did a good thing.

The only way that prayer can be encouraged in a child’s life is by introducing it early, applauding the action, and reminding them of the importance of learning to speak to Jesus.  It’s not too intense for their young mind.  We’d do an injustice to them to assume such a thing.

~ Ashley


3 thoughts on “Encouraging Children to Pray

  1. Lori@kitchenfunk

    I enjoyed your piece. I just discovered the faithful blogger site and found you through them. I, too, use this old prayer with my children, but years ago my husband worried that the thought of dieing in their sleep would be too much for them (lol, I know, but sweet) so he changed the last verse to, “…tomorrow is another day, to love and laugh and sing and pray.” and we end with a prayer for all.


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