I have three girls at home of my own and I often look for ways to teach them the truths of God’s Word. I love teaching the Bible, but I have found many times that because of its attention spans (ages 5, 3, and 5 months) and my limited time, it can be difficult to consistently sow the seeds of Bible truth.
For this reason, I have developed my own patterns of study and growth in God’s Word that I pray my children will pass through. I am sure I have failed many times to make this happen, but I still know that it is God who grows the seed sown (1 Corinthians 3: 5-9). It’s just my job to sow the seeds.
Whether you are a parent, caregiver, child ministry volunteer, or another amazing person who loves teaching the Word of God to children, I hope my simple tips will encourage you to keep planting faith as you teach the Our Father for children .
The importance of teaching the Lord’s Prayer to children
The Lord’s Prayer is found in Matthew 6: 5-14 in the Sermon on the Mount. Here we see Jesus teaching his disciples what it is like to live faith in the kingdom of God. In this particular passage, Jesus provides the basis for our own understanding of what and how to pray. We can use the Our Father as a framework to pray for ourselves and for others. Since Jesus disciples us in prayer through His Sermon on the Mount, we must follow our children in Jesus’ teaching on prayer.
Not only is it important for children to hear and understand the humility that marked Jesus as he prayed these words, but it is also important that the Our Father influences the way children learn to pray.
Prayer is an act of communion that we have gained through faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we have been reconciled to God – and through prayer we grant ourselves full access to God. The atonement of the cross alone tells us the importance of obeying the teaching of Jesus’ prayer. Prayer shows our dependence on God and makes us disciples of Jesus.
So keep these 5 tips in mind when doing the Our Father for children:
1. Study the Lord’s Prayer
In order to teach the Lord’s Prayer to others, we need to know it well ourselves. Spend time reading the passage and reading commentaries or looking at a study Bible (the ESV and NIV study Bibles are great places to start). Gather background information and context before attempting to apply it in your life.
The Lord’s Prayer has an abundance of theological depth contained in 5 short verses. For a more complete picture of each verse, look at the cross-references, rewrite them in your own words, and pray over the course of the day. If your children are older, consider doing this study with them as a family. Get out the Study Bible, give each one a highlighter, and let them help you!
The more you read, understand, and apply the Our Prayer to your own life, the more natural it will be to teach it to the children in your life.
2. Model the Lord’s Prayer for children
The Lord’s Prayer is often viewed as the 5 short verses that begin with “Our Father in Heaven …” and end with “Deliver us from evil”. These verses are important because our prayers should have a pattern similar to that of the Our Father. As we pray aloud with our children, we begin to teach them to pray.
Therefore, praying together with children can and should include the elements of praising God the Father, confession and repentance, asking for His will and for deliverance from evil. Jesus’ teaching on prayer is also more than a few short sentences. Jesus calls his disciples to a high standard of prayer that takes a sense of pride in us. He urges his disciples to pray alone, not aloud on the street corner. Matthew 6: 5-8 describes it this way:
“And when you pray, you mustn’t be like the hypocrites. Because they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that others can see them. Verily, I tell you, they have received their wages. But when you pray, go to your room and close the door and pray to your father who is in secret. And your father, who sees in secret, will reward you.
“And when you pray, do not pile up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard for their many words. Don’t be like her because your father knows what you need before you ask him. “
Therefore, in the example of the Our Father for children, we should consider how and where we pray, and how they hear us pray.
3. Sing the Lord’s Prayer
The song is a powerful tool that God has given us to help us remember the truths of His word. Whether you have a fantastic singing voice or you tend to be a little outlandish, singing the Lord’s Prayer with children will help them remember the words of Jesus for years. If you are creative and enjoy making your own melody, don’t hesitate to make your own song!
You may even consider asking the children to help you make up a song to help them remember the words of the Our Father. But if singing and songwriting are not your thing, use one of the amazing songs of the Lord’s Prayer that has already been written. Listen in the car, sing it before bed, or just play it at home. Here are two great options for getting started with Hillsong Worship and Saddleback Kids.
4. Paraphrase the Lord’s Prayer to children
Rewriting the Bible and putting it into your own words will help impress the text more deeply on your mind and soul. When you have time, grab the children and let them help you rewrite the Our Father’s Day. Ask them what they think each phrase means, explain where it is used, and allow them to express Jesus’ teaching on prayer in their own words.
Write it down, have them draw pictures to help them remember the words, and post them somewhere you can refer to them again and again. If you don’t have time for such a long project, you should read paraphrased versions of the Our Father regularly. Sally Loyd Jones offers a free read of her paraphrase here, or you can pick up her book Loved to have to read regularly.
You can also take the children with you and read various translations of the Our Father’s Bible with them. See if they can see differences and similarities. The more we immerse ourselves in the word of God and the prayer teaching of Jesus, the more the Lord’s prayer becomes alive!
Finally, ask the Lord for wisdom and discernment in everything as you try to sow the seeds of truth. We want to train our children in kindness and piety, so we should ask King Jesus how we can embed the Lord’s Prayer into everyday life. At the end of the day, simply read the words of Matthew 6: 9-15 and pray, because God’s Word does not return empty (Isaiah 55:11).
“Then pray like this:
“Our Heavenly Father,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come
your will will happen,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts
as we have also forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For if you forgive others their transgressions, your Heavenly Father will forgive you too, but if you do not forgive others their transgressions, your Father will not forgive your transgressions either. “
Photo credit: © Unsplash
Stephanie Englehart is a Seattle native, wife of a church planter, mom, and lover of coffee, the great outdoors, and fine (easy-to-prepare) food. Stephanie is passionate about allowing God to use her honest thoughts and confessions to bring the application of the gospel to life. You can read more about what she writes on the Ever Sing blog at stephaniemenglehart.com or follow her on Instagram: @stephaniemenglehart.