Teaching Children (and Yourself) How to Pray Effectively
"Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'"1
A Daily Encounter reader writes, "How can I explain to my child how God answers prayers. My oldest son, 6 yrs old, has been praying that he would not have nightmares and be scared at night and for help with his behavior at school. How can I reinforce his belief in God when he doesn't think that his prayers are being answered?"
Dear Suzanne (name changed): Actually this is an ideal opportunity to teach your son how to pray so that God will answer his prayers. Explain to him that both of you need to ask God to show you why he is having nightmares, why he is scared at night, and why he is having problems at school. Explain to him that these are caused by other fears in his life that need to be understood so you can get the help needed to overcome them. You can teach him that if God is going to answer our prayers, we need to learn how to pray the right prayers.
His nightmares and problems at school are undoubtedly symptoms of something in his everyday life that he is deeply troubled about. This is why it is important to ask God to show you the cause/s of his nightmares and problems, and to lead you to find the help needed to resolve these fears.
If there is any kind of conflict in the home, if his father has left, if he is having a conflict with a sibling or a bully at school—any of these issues could cause him to have nightmares. Continued nightmares are usually the symptom of some known or unknown fear. I would also suggest that you see a competent Christian child counselor right away to help resolve his fears. Untreated they will only get worse.
For possible counseling resources check our website at: http://www.actsweb.org/counseling_resources.php
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, in all of my personal problems and those of my children and family, please help me to see the cause/s of these problems. To resolve these please lead me to the help I need for myself, my children, and/or other loved one. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus's name, amen."
1. Matthew 19:14 (NIV).