Episode 131: Teaching Our Children to Pray

In this episode we look at three fantastic books on prayer for children and my favorite book on prayer for adults.

Books Discussed in This Episode:

Transcript with Links:

Welcome to “Books That Spark,” a podcast for parents and caregivers, celebrating books that help us with everyday discipleship every day, sparking important conversations with our children. I’m so glad you’re here today. I’m so glad to be back. If you haven’t heard, I’ve been battling COVID and a severe allergic reaction, and the two together had messed up my lungs pretty badly and I had no voice. So I’m very, very grateful to be back and to have a voice to share with you today.

I am very excited to share the topic today. I want to talk about prayer as we start out this new year and want to help our children be the people God created them to be. Teaching them how to pray is so important, and I have three beautiful books to share with you today about prayer for our kids. And the first one we have talked about already on recent podcasts because I interviewed the author and illustrator of The Lord’s Prayer for All God’s Children. It is a Fat Cat series book, and it’s just wonderful. It takes the Lord’s prayer and breaks it down and bite-size pieces for our children and helps them to really grasp how each line is so important. It serves a purpose, it is a type of prayer in itself, and Jesus is teaching His disciples and teaching us how to pray, and so of course, this is a very important book. The Lord’s Prayer is part of the Catechism, if your church has that tradition. If it doesn’t, we still want our children to learn the Lord’s Prayer, the model prayer that Jesus taught. And so this is such a good book, and they have done such a wonderful job at the end of the book of having lots of good back matter to use with your family. We have devotionals and scriptures and ideas for family worship, family prayer time. All of these things are in the back of the book to help you as a parent to have ideas of how to talk to your kids about prayer. And it also helps too, if you have a wide range of ages of children, because it helps you to have other ways to apply this book and use it with your older children. And so it’s really just a fantastic book, and the illustrations I just love. Natasha was on our podcast recently and she just does a beautiful job on these books.

And then the second one I want to share with you is from another series that I’ve talked quite a lot about because I just really like their books and I appreciate them. They are so well grounded in the word of God and are so true to the word of God, they don’t break away from the truth. They stay really grounded and do such a great job of breaking down theology, breaking down Christian ideals and ideas that we need to teach our children. This whole series is excellent. And so the series is called Tales That Tell the Truth. There’s some good alliteration for you. And this particular book is called Any Time, Any Place, Any Prayer Storybook: A True Story of How You Can Talk with God, and this is also available as a board book or as a picture book, and it has a Kindle version too. It is written by Laura Wifler and illustrated by Catalina Echeverri, and Catalina has illustrated most of the books in this series, if not all of them. She just has a very cute type of illustration as well that will really appeal to children. What I love about this book is they go from talking about the different characters in the Bible and how they prayed, talking about Jonah repenting in the belly of the well and confessing his sin and talking about different ones, Hannah praying because she trusted God’s wisdom and He would meet her need, hopefully answer her prayer for a child and different ones throughout scripture who prayed, and it gives the Bible reference by the picture. And then the book goes into where people prayed when they prayed and how we can pray anytime, anywhere, anyway, and then it goes into another section where they go beyond Bible characters to people in church’s history who have prayed like Tyndale, who was one of the Bible translators, and different ones throughout history. And then it comes to the section with children and it shows little children praying their prayers and when they can pray and where they can pray, why they can pray, and so it really does a fantastic job of reiterating that truth, that God is with us everywhere and we can pray anywhere and everywhere. Also, it brings home the truth of the heritage we have of people who have prayed throughout the centuries, who’ve lived by faith, who’ve trusted God and recognized that He is in control and submitting to Him through prayer. It’s just well, well done. I think it covers so many bases in a fun way and is so interesting. And the cool thing too is if you’re a homeschooling family and you have children who are a little bit older and need to write some reports or biographies, what if they research some of the people in the story? Whether you’re doing a Bible study character study, or if you’re working on history and wanting to write about a character from history who had faith, there’s those listed in the book that you could research, your child could research and write a paper or write a paragraph about that person, so it really lends itself to expand from the book to even more meaningful activities with your children. So I really, really appreciate this book. I love how it’s done. I love that it not only says we can pray any time, in any place, but any prayer, we don’t have to be afraid to talk to God about anything. No one should ever be shamed by the prayers they choose to pray. I really, really have kind of a pet peeve about that, when people judge other people’s prayers. If someone is just heartbroken about their cat and they want to pray for their cat, they certainly should be allowed to pray for that cat without feeling bad. Just because we think that might be silly doesn’t mean it’s silly to them. That cat may be their whole life, you know, that may be their only family member at the moment. We need to not shame people for what they ask for prayer for or tell them they have to have more faith or anything like that. It’s talking to God and bringing our hearts to our Father, and He doesn’t shame us for what we pray. Why would we shame each other? So that’s just one of my things that just drives me crazy, is when people judge other people’s prayer requests or prayers. So any prayer we can pray, even if it’s ill-advised, we still can pray and He can answer with His wisdom and His understanding, and if the answer is no, it’s because of His wisdom and He knows what’s best and we need to teach our children that. So if our child’s praying for a gigantic birthday cake full of ice cream and they want to eat that for a week, we can tell them that’s not good for them, and if God answered that prayer with a yes, what would happen? A tummy ache for sure, you know? So little things, silly things, fun things, we need to teach our kids all of these things about prayer that God and His wisdom will answer yes, no or wait and we can take anything to Him any concern. I also love to teach our children and people I disciple, we can even come to God in anger. David did. He was angry with those around him and he came to God with that anger, and you can see the change throughout the Psalms many times when he starts out angry and then you see his heart softening as he is in God’s presence. The one thing I always do say is, “but we need to come to God with respect.” Now I know God is big and He can handle even our disrespect and our contempt and our anger, no doubt, but I try to teach my children and my disciples that even if we’re angry, you still go to God with respect. It’s the same as if I were going to talk to my mom or dad and I’m upset with something they did. I’ve never gone in and just screamed at them and been disrespectful to them, they’re still my parents. And so I go to them with respect and talk to them about what’s on my heart and my concern with a respectful attitude, and I don’t think that’s too much to ask. However, I do recognize there are times in life when tragedy hits and we are just overcome and overwhelmed. And so again, not shaming our children for that understanding. If they are really distraught and God understands, God knows their heart, so we don’t have to be afraid, and that’s what’s so wonderful about this book and about talking about prayer. We don’t have to be afraid to ever come to God and to His presence and talk to Him about whatever is on our heart. Even if our hearts are so troubled, we’re filled with rage, we can bring that to God. What better place to bring it? If we’re just sitting around talking to our friends and getting angrier and angrier, we’re not solving anything, but if we take it to God, we find healing, we find help, we find hope, and that’s one thing my husband and I have really been talking about lately, because there’s so many things that are truly disturbing happening in our world today. Heartbreaking, horrible, horrendous things, and when we think about those things, if we don’t turn around and bring them to God in prayer, they can totally knock us down, they can overwhelm us, they can overcome us. If we’re not careful, they can fill us with despair rather than hope. And when we go to God, we find hope because we find He’s still there, He’s still in control, and we can trust Him with whatever emotion, with whatever concern we have. He is there. He is in control. He is God. There’s such a healing that happens when we bring our concerns to Him.

And then the last children’s book I want to share with you is a brand new book, it just came out recently a couple months ago, I guess. It’s TJ the Squirrel Learns the True Heart of Prayer, and it’s called In Jesus Name I Pray, by Costi and Christyne Hinn, and the art is by Guy Wolek. This is such a great little book. With so many misunderstandings in our world today of what the Bible really teaches about prayer, we need to be careful to teach our children the truth and help them to understand when people are teaching incorrectly. And this poor little guy, TJ, his friend tells him that if he just believes enough, he can get anything he wants, and so he just starts making all his wishes to God. He wants bunches and bunches of nuts for the winter and he wants toys and he wants this, and he starts shouting out his prayers and he’s closing his eyes and believing really hard and nothing happens. Then his other friends come and share with him the truth of what prayer is and how God answers prayer. We are not God. He is God. He has all wisdom, we do not. He knows what is best and he is not some genie or Santa Claus. He is the Almighty, all powerful God filled with wisdom and truth, and we need to trust Him and live by faith in Him knowing that His answer, whether it is yes, no, or wait, is the right answer. This book really outlines a true biblical understanding of our relationship with God and our relationship with God in prayer. I think if we can help our kids understand that this is a real person, God is real, and we are talking to Him, and His Holy Spirit is ministering to us and He’s speaking to us through His Holy Spirit and through His word, then they can understand to come to Him is not something that they’re in charge of ordering Him around, but that they come to Him humbly and in submission and in respect. That’s what I hope my kids understand and grasp in how they approach the throne of God. Yes, we can approach that throne boldly because of what Christ has done, but we don’t need to do it disrespectfully and thinking that we are in charge, that’s so dangerous. So those are three fantastic books that I think we should really have in our library to help our kids understand prayer and grow in their faith and in their prayer life, and really help them develop a wonderful prayer life. If you would like a book, I’ll share with you my very favorite book on prayer. There are so many I love, but this one is so good. It’s out of print, but you can still find it at several book sellers and it’s simply called Prayer by Ole Hallesby. Of all the books I’ve read, this one profoundly changed my prayer life. He just did such a wonderful job of helping us understand true biblical prayer and the life of a disciple, and how we should see prayer as one of our most important vocations as a Christian, as a disciple. The way he just words things in this book, it’s just so, so well done. I just love it. It’s a short little book, it’s not too long, and it is really worth reading. We’ve given it away many, many times. We keep several in stock a lot of times because we like to give it away. I really do highly recommend it, and there are several other wonderful books about prayer for children and adults, but these are the ones I wanted to share with you today because they just really are fantastic.

I’m so glad to be back, and thank you for joining us for “Books That Spark,” where we encourage each other to live out every day discipleship, helping to equip our children to follow Christ with their whole hearts. If you enjoyed this episode, please like and share on social media so people know we’re here and leave a review on one of the podcast host sites. If you wouldn’t mind, that would be wonderful. We truly appreciate you. If you would like to connect with me, you can join my mailing list or comment at terriehellardbrown.com. We love to hear from you and we respond to every question and comment. We pray you feel empowered as a parent or caregiver to walk by faith and to embrace everyday discipleship every day with the children in your life.

Your Host: Terrie Hellard-Brown

Terrie Hellard-Brown writes and speaks to help children and adults find God’s purpose and plan for their lives. She teaches workshops and writes devotional books, children’s stories, and Christian education materials.

Her podcast, Books that Spark, reviews children’s books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion leading to teachable moments with our kids. Her podcast posts each Tuesday morning.

Her blog posts discuss living as a disciple of Christ while parenting our children. She challenges us to step out of our comfort zones to walk by faith in obedience to Christ and to use the nooks and crannies of our lives to disciple our children.

Terrie uses her experiences as a mother of four (three on “the spectrum”), 37 years in ministry (15 in Taiwan), and 32 years teaching to speak to the hearts of readers.

Her motto is “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be WONDERFUL” and keeps her childlike joy by writing children’s stories, delighting over pink dolphins, and frequently laughing till it hurts.

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