“Dear Jesus, thank you for Mommy. Thank you for Daddy. Thank you for Wyatt. Amen.” My two-year-old turned to his big brother who was laying next to him and in a cute but fierce voice declared, “Now get outta my bed!!!!”
I had to turn away to keep from smiling. What a contrast! Over the last few months, I had been trying to teach the boys some easy night time prayers for kids, or rather just some simple prayer concepts and although they were understanding, their hearts seemed to be far from living out a gracious bedtime prayer routine.
Gently I coaxed my son, “You don’t need to yell at your brother to get out of your bed, we are praying to our heavenly father and we want to respect this time together.” Nothing I said helped him out of his crabby mode and I eventually finished the prayer and we all headed off to bed.
How can we teach our children to pray at night and have it not just be words, but heartfelt communication with their heavenly father?
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Maybe you too recited prayers as a child. Usually, I was encouraged to use my own wording for prayers and I tend to encourage that for my own children, but there are still night time prayers that I remember reciting as a child. Here is a couple of them.
Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep May God guard me through the night, And wake me with the morning light.
Another traditional night time prayers for kids include The Lord’s Prayer.
Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy Name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
There are many other traditional bedtime prayers for kids, yet for little ones they are often hard to memorize and even harder to understand.
Why not instead of teaching our children to memorize a prayer, teach them how to pray at night?
Night Time Prayers for Kids
Night time prayers for kids are simple prayers that communicate praise, gratitude, and requests that reflect childlike innocence.
Night prayers are a way for children to reflect on their day and find security in going to sleep. As my children have got older, they specifically request that we pray at night when I forget. It’s a rhythm and routine that has become important to them as they go to sleep. Prayer should be more than a routine and rhythm, as a child is growing and learning about their faith, it can be a valuable practice as they begin to know God.
What Should Children Know About Praying
Nancy Guthrie has an excellent book called “What Every Child Should Know about Prayer“. It is an excellent resource for both parents and kids as you dive into this world of praying with young children.
There are six sections to the book that unpacks what biblical prayer looks like for children.
- God wants us to talk to him
- Prayer is more than asking God for things
- God’s people have always prayed
- The Psalms give us words to pray
- Jesus teaches us to pray
- Let’s pray!
Directing our children to prayer offers them a lifelong skill that directs them to the God of the universe!
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,1 Peter 3:12
and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
Our children should know and understand that God wants to hear and know their prayers. Young children are gifted with simple words that come from the heart. It’s a blessing and a gift, not something to discourage. Let them use their simple words!
They do not have to be rote prayers or recited prayers. They can be right from the heart. God hears their prayers no matter how small or insignificant they seem. An innocent child’s prayer is often more saturated with truth and grace than an adult’s prayer who has been tainted by the sin of this world.
What is a Good Child’s Prayer
A good child’s prayer is simply one that comes from their heart. As we have stated before it does not have to be fancy or recited. Teach your child to compose their prayer with three main points.
This method is similar to the ACTS prayer method, which stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. For a child, we are simplifying the process. This example follows the Lord’s prayer from Matthew 6:9-13.
Here is an example of what a night prayer could look like for a small child (ages 2-5). It comes from the heart and has praise, thanksgiving, and a request all integrated into the childlike prayer.
5 Examples of Night Time Prayers for Kids
As your child becomes more acquainted with praying at night, help them scale to a new level of prayer. If your child (like mine) enjoys listing off people they are thankful for, stop them and ask them why they are grateful. Ask them about their day and why they liked it. Maybe even prompt them on if they ‘saw God’ today.
These are five examples of nighttime prayers for kids. Each one follows simple a simple sentence structure. Some of them include the system of teaching children to include praise, thanksgiving, and request; others are just simple prayers to help guide your nighttime prayers for kids.
Thank you Night Time Prayer
This prayer is simply a gratitude list. Children love coming up with gratitude lists and that’s okay! We don’t have to correct them and make them come up with more. Let their childlike innocence be enough.
Thank you, God, for the day you gave,
Thank you, God, for the food we eat.
Thank you, God, for my toys and family,
Thank you, God, for all you give.
Fun Filled Day Prayer
Childhood is fun! It can be a great adventure filled with imaginative play. On these days when your child comes to bed after a long day of play outside (or inside) and is simply exhausted, this prayer is a way that they can learn to acknowledge what a delightful day they had and give praise back to God.
Hi, it’s me, I’ve come to pray.
Thank you for my fun-filled day.
Praise you for all you gave.
Help me rest and go to sleep.
A School Prayer
As your child starts their school experience, they can pray this little prayer to show gratitude and shower a blessing on those who are close to them. It’s a great way to start introducing your child to the concept of empathy and loving others besides family members.
Lord, hear my prayer.
Thank you for the kids at school.
Thank you for all you do.
Bless all those who love me too.
The serenity prayer typically is a prayer that adults use. However, it can be a powerful recitation for children too. This version is much shorter, easier to memorize, and more child appropriate.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
A Prayer for Forgiveness
We like to pretend sometimes that our children are not ever getting hurt, but the fact is that they are. People are mean and our children are going to encounter situations in which they will need to learn and forgive. This prayer can help them learn to forgive and move on from the hurt.
Dear Lord, sometimes people make me sad.
Why are people mean?
Can you help me forgive and move on?
Help me sleep without being sad.
Make tomorrow a better day.
Benefits of Teaching Children to Pray
There are many benefits of putting a child in charge of their night time prayer routine.
- Prayer can reduce stress in both children and adults.
- Praying helps develop bonds between you and your child.
- Prayer gives children security before nighttime.
- Prayer helps encourage forgiveness.
- Prayer connects us with our heavenly Father.
- Nightly prayer helps develop discipline.
The bottom line though in teaching our children to pray at night is to connect them with their heavenly father. By teaching our children to pray we are modeling for them how to communicate with their maker and ours. What a gift!
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