NOTE: This is Part 1 of a 5-part series explaining spiritual disciplines to children. Each article in the series is designed to be read by kids or to kids. You can check out the rest of the series here.
by Pastor Jeff and Peggy McCourt
What is it?
Prayer is the very first thing we taught our own kids about what it means to have a relationship with God. This is probably what you learned at a young age from your parents too. Because even 1-year-olds sit at the table for meals every day, and because we always thank God for the food before we eat, you learned very early that prayer includes thanking Jesus for all our blessings. As you got older, you found out that prayer is simply talking to God.
It’s a good thing that we connect praying with eating at first. Most of us eat three times a day, which means that we stop what we’re doing and talk to God three times a day. That helps us begin to understand how important it is to pray.
What’s the Bible say about it?
Jesus thought it was important so He made sure He taught His disciples to pray. The prayer He taught them is sometimes called “The Lord’s Prayer.” Have you heard it before? It starts with the words, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name” (Matt. 6:9). The Apostle Paul thought prayer was so important that he told us to “pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 3:16). The people who were part of the first church thought prayer was important too. Acts chapter 12 tells the story of a prayer meeting that went long into the night. The people were asking God to free Peter from jail. And He did!
That story – and many other stories and instructions in the Bible – teach us that prayer is not just about thanking God. It’s also about asking God for what we need. Little things and big things, it doesn’t matter. Our Heavenly Father loves to hear His children asking Him for help.
How can I do it?
That reminds us of a simple way that we like to think about prayer. First, “Help!” Then, “Thank you!” We pray that way a lot! It’s so simple you can pray that way too. Ask God for help with anything and everything – help with your schoolwork, help being patient with your little sister, help being a kind friend, and help for other people (your parents and pastors; relatives and missionaries). This is exactly how a poet named Asaph wrote about prayer. The Lord says, “Call upon me in the day of trouble (in other words, ask for God’s help!); I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me” (Psalm 50:15).
Then, however God answers your prayers, say “Thank you.” Asaph wrote about this too. “The one who offers thanksgiving . . . glorifies me” (Psalm 50:23).
“Help!” and “Thank you!” Can you ask God for His help with something right now? How about something to thank Him for? You just prayed! And you just gave glory to God.