Encouraging faith to develop at home can be a tricky experience. Time, resources, imagination and willingness can all be lacking, and parents or carers may have been put off by their own experiences as children – or they may have had no experience at all when they were young. In this space, we want to help parents and carers to include faith exploration naturally, so that it fits effortlessly into daily life. Writer and children’s specialist, Victoria Beech, gives us some pointers to explore praying as a family.


I’ve often heard that prayer is something lots of people do, whether they go to church or not. Recent research by Scripture Union showed that this is particularly true for children. However, many Christians feel inadequate in their own prayer life, which makes passing this on to others quite daunting. I think prayer is both the hardest and the easiest thing to pass on to children. It’s the easiest thing because it really needs no equipment, reading skills, prior experience or training. But the best teachers of prayer are pray-ers.

If I want my children, those in my family or my group, to be pray-ers, I need to pray. I need to pray for them, and for myself to be a good passer-on of a life of prayer. To invite God into this dynamic is the most powerful thing we can do. If we do only one thing to promote a life of prayer, this should be it.

The most important thing after praying yourself, is to let children see you pray. Let them know that you pray for them, for the world and for yourself. Let children see you praying with other people and on your own. Give them a window into your

conversations with God. If this makes you feel bad because you don’t feel like you pray enough or in the right way, don’t let this stop you! Rather, be encouraged to communicate with God in ways which really work for you, and let your desire to share this with your children inspire you to find more of those ways.

This also helps them know that prayer looks different for different people at different times. I love to pray with Sharpie pens and music, while my husband prefers to sit silent in a chair with his eyes shut. Both are good, and our children need to see these and other forms of prayer to find out what works best for them.

I know a family who love making photos of their holidays into videos with a sound track, so I encouraged them to bring God into that by choosing the moments of their holiday they really enjoyed and were most thankful for and to use a thanks-filled worship song as the backing track. You may be thinking: “I could never do that!” That’s fine, do something which you enjoy doing!

I love making bread, and I find kneading dough to be a great time to pray the prayers for which I’ve run out of words – prayers I’ve prayed for a long time and not seen an answer to yet. I’ve also found running a good time to pray. If you’re not a photographer, a runner or a baker, do what you do that makes you feel close to God.

A prayer such as the Lord’s Prayer is a great thing to use, but it’s also good to help people use their own voice and words when talking with God. Many people seem to be put off prayer as they don’t think they can do it right, but God is more interested in us talking with him than in the words we use.

Pray together

As well as praying ourselves, we should also invite children to pray with us. This can be as simple as asking a child who they’d like to ask God to bless. When my daughter was tiny, I started doing prayers with her using a photo prayer book.

I printed photos of all our extended family and stuck them in a book. At the front I stuck some different coloured post-it notes then invited my 2-year-old to read the book with me. She choose which photos we looked at and drew a prayer for each person as we paused on their page.

To my amazement, she once drew a picture which turned out to be an encouraging word to a family member who, unbeknown to me, was going through a very difficult experience at the time. The encouragement included an element of a prophetic word which also came to pass later that year.

Rachel Turner, in her book Parenting children for a life of faith, encourages parents to use silent prayers as a way of encouraging children to interact directly with God. You pick topics and spend 30 seconds or so talking silently with God about that topic.

The topics can be varied, such as ‘what I liked best about today’, ‘my favourite toy’, ‘things I regret’ or ‘What upsets me’. I love this but find it challenging as not hearing what children pray means I have to leave them to it and trust God – this is probably good for me!

As I’m discovering, my children don’t always need my prompting to talk with God. The other day I got in the car and asked if anyone would like to pray for our long journey ahead. My 5-year-old said yes. This was her prayer: “Dear Lord God. I’ve already sung you a song before Mummy got in the car. Please could you also bless our journey.” Wow!

Remember to have fun! Look for things you like and tie prayer into them. Try out prayers that link with the natural or church season, ones which link in with what you are doing as a family. See below for some ideas.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, let’s also make sure that the prayer we do and the prayer we pass on is a two-way conversation. Let’s teach children how to listen to God, or as Rachel Turner describes it, ‘catching’.

I think that taking part in prayer that is a two-way conversation revolutionises our prayer, making it not something we have to work hard to do but something we can’t live without. So let’s pray, let’s let children see us pray, and let’s invite them to pray with us.

Ideas to help inspire praying together

Think ‘codes’

My favourite is a colour code, when you assign each colour with different things to thank God for or pray for. Use sweets (such as jelly babies), and pick a sweet out of the bag without looking. Say a prayer about the topic you allocated to that colour. For a healthier option, you can also use fruit.

This also works well with Twister: just label up your mat with four different categories for prayer. I find this works best if you get people to think about what they’d like to pray about before you start the game, as otherwise the game moves a bit too slowly. I’ve also found dice prayers work well – especially with children over 7 who are given free rein to choose which six topics to pray for. I’ve found it hard to get them to stop once they get going!

Think ‘senses’

Including things which appeal to different senses helps people with different learning styles and builds a strong bond between objects and prayer, so that when those objects are encountered again outside of a prayer context, they are likely to bring to mind the prayer experience. Try hand-washing, writing in sand, watching vitamin tablets dissolving in water, eating bread or listening to reflective music.

Think ‘seasons’

Both natural and Church seasons lend themselves to certain types of prayer. In one Messy Church I led, the group used conkers in a time of prayer. I gave everyone one each to hold in the shells! As we held them, we thought about and told God silently about ‘spikey’ things in our lives: things that were hurting us. We then opened up the spikey shells and held the smooth, beautiful conkers on the inside, and asked God to transform our spikey things into something beauti­ful. (“He has made everything beautiful in its time” Ecclesiastes 3:11.) It was a short but profound time of prayer. After­wards I discovered that one family had lost a young baby on that day the year before, and found it a powerful way to bring that to God.