Lent is an excellent opportunity to help kids develop a habit of prayer; an ongoing conversation and friendship with God that is essential to living the Christian life. St. Therese of Lisieux is a great example of how she lived a simple life of prayer. Her ‘little way’ is a lifestyle that we, as well as kids, can certainly learn from. All quotes below are from this beautiful, humble and joy-filled Saint.
1. KEEP IT SIMPLE
Kids need to know that prayer is simple. It doesn’t need to be a long or complicated. Just repeating the name of Jesus throughout the day is a simple prayer. Kids can pray: “Jesus, I love you,” “Jesus, You’re Awesome”, “Jesus, I trust in you,” “Jesus thank you for ....”
“I say very simply to God what I wish to say, without composing beautiful sentences, and He always understands me.”
“Prayer is a surge of the heart; a simple look turned toward heaven...”
2. REST IN THE ARMS OF JESUS
Show kids a variety of beautiful images of Jesus with children. (google images of children resting in the arms of Jesus) Kids can picture themselves resting in the arms of Jesus. Let them know they can find a peaceful and safe place in God’s embrace. What better way to pray than in this way – to come to Jesus and remain nestled close to His heart.
“...follow that first impulse that draws you into His arms. That is where your place is."
3. OPENING THE GIFT OF SILENCE
The saints practiced silence in order to better hear the voice of God. Kids can too, by practicing one marvelous minute of sweet silence each day in a prayer spot. They can breathe slowly by taking deep breaths and letting them out gradually as they relax. Encourage them to close their eyes and imagine themselves going for a walk with Jesus, talking with Him and seeing what He wants to teach them. As they walk along, they can listen for the gentle whisper of Jesus speaking to their hearts. They will eventually learn to see that silence can be both an adventure and a real gift.
“Silence does good to the soul.”
4. MAKE YOUR ROOM A DESERT
Ask Kids what a desert looks like. It’s bare and simple! During the season of Lent, kids can imitate Jesus’ forty days in the desert, by finding some things in their room that might distract them during their prayer times such as toys, games, posters, books, and extra clutter. These items can be stored away in a closet or some items can be put in a box and given away to others in need.
"Joy isn’t found in the material objects surrounding us, but in the inner recesses of the soul. One can possess joy in a prison cell as well as in a palace."
5. BE CREATIVE
Provide kids with a variety of ways that they can pray using a crucifix, Bible, rosary, prayer books, images of Jesus, prayer cards, battery-operated candle, etc. Give them a small bottle of holy water to bless themselves at the beginning and end of their day or right before their prayer time. Explain that the holy water reminds them of their Baptism and will strengthen them during Lent. Have kids hold a crucifix in their hands and have them look at Jesus’ hands, His feet, His side, His face and ask who Jesus is for them.
“Jesus does not demand great actions from us, but simply surrender and gratitude.”
6. TRUST THE HOLY SPIRIT
As educators of the faith, we sometimes struggle to find ways to inspire kids to pray and persevere in prayer. We need to trust that the Holy Spirit is at work and that He knows what’s best. We can pray, “Come Holy Spirit, teach us to pray!”
“He guides and inspires me every moment of the day. Just when I need it, a new light shines on my problems."
Hopefully, a few of these ideas inspired you to help guide kids into a life of prayer. Feel free to email us your comments or if have any other ideas or stories about teaching kids to pray. We would love to hear from you.