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The ABC's of Prayer

Helping children talk to God can be as easy as A-B-C. Use this simple guide to add some spark to your family's prayer life.

Adore God. Start the day by showing God love and honor. Greet God in prayer with words that show you love God and know he is wonderful. Talk about words that describe God, such as all-powerful, loving, and creative, then use those words in adoration.

Believe in God's abilities. Before we ask for God's help, we must believe he can help. Over breakfast, talk about God's ability to solve problems. In prayer, tell God you believe he can do everything!

Confess sins. Get your hands dirty, then wash them. Talk about how God washes our hearts when we confess sins. Have each person think about something he or she did that hurt someone, then ask for forgiveness.

Delight in God and his Creation.Romans 1:20 teaches that when we look at what God made, we learn about God. Take a nature walk and thank God each time you stop to look at something he made.

Express the need for God. In humility seek the truth of Christ's words in John 15:5: "Apart from me, you can do nothing." Talk to your child about why you need God. Ask your child why he needs God. Together thank God for always being with each of you.

Focus on one need. There is no need to rush through a wish list of all the problems you want God to solve—he already knows. A mind crowded with problems will feel stressed. For today, think of the need weighing on you the most. Let God give you peace about that one problem.

Give thanks to God. Help your child think of the blessings in her life and thank God for each one. Write them in a journal. This helps develop an attitude of gratitude.

Humor lightens the heart, so tell God the funny things that happen, too. Look back and find the funny side of frustrating moments and laugh. God, who created monkeys and cuckoo birds, likes to laugh with us.

Invite the Holy Spirit to guide each of you. Take your child on a blindfolded walk, guiding him around obstacles. Discuss how God sent the Holy Spirit to guide us around problems, including ones we may not even see.

Journal as a form of prayer. Let your children write or draw a prayer. Encourage them to write whatever God puts in their minds. Have younger children tell you what they want to say and record their words for them.

Keep knocking. Read about the poor widow who kept knocking in Luke 18:1-8. Make a doorknob hanger with a prayer request on it and tell your child to pray about that request every time he sees the hanger.

Love God and express that love in words. Expressing love for God and remembering his love helps us look beyond our problems and hold on to his promises. As you pray, fold your arms across your chest as though you are hugging—and being hugged by—God.

Mean what you say. Honesty is important in any relationship, especially your relationship with God. Read Psalm 102 and talk about how it's okay to tell God how we feel, even when we are sad or angry. Practice being honest with God as you pray.

Never give up, but persevere in your prayers. If you've got an unanswered prayer, continue taking it to God. If you're dealing with a difficult situation, ask God to give you the strength to deal with it. Trust that God will answer your prayers in his way and in his time.

Offer yourself and your talents to God. Make a list of your child's talents, from a great smile to a nice singing ability to being a fast runner. Then pray with your child, asking God to show her how to use these abilities to serve him. Use one of those talents for God today.

Praise the Lord. Rejoice for what God has done and will do. Sing or listen to a praise song as part of your prayers.

Quietly listen and wait for God's response. Read Psalm 46 and then sit still and let your heart feel God's love. Listen for God to speak to your hearts. Share anything God may have told you, reflect on memorized verses, or read a passage from the Bible. Help your child discover that God speaks through his Word.

Repent. Repentance is an act of regret and turning away from sin. To stop doing the same bad things takes strength. Help your child make a "God can help me" sign and post it in her room as a reminder to ask for God's help to resist sin and repent of wrongdoing.

Seek God's help for others. Our concern for others touches God's heart. Write the names of people who need God's guidance and comfort. Pray for each.

Trust God and expect answers. Read the words on a penny about trust. Talk about how trust grows just like a pile of coins can grow, a little at a time. Post a paper on your refrigerator to jot down answers to prayer, and watch the paper fill up!

Unite your will with God's. God knows what is best. Talk about your prayer requests and why they might or might not be in God's will, then pray for God to show you his will and to help you accept his plans for you.

Value yourself. As you end your prayers today, realize that God values you. Read Psalm 139 as a reminder of how much God loves you.

Worship God. Think of worship as blowing kisses to God. Take turns saying something great about God. Blow kisses toward heaven after each praise.

X-ray hearing; that is, listen intently. Prayer is a two-way communication, so stop and listen for God's voice in your heart. Read about how Elijah listened and heard God whisper in 1 Kings 19:11-13.

Yearn to learn from prayer and be changed by it. Even as you end today's prayer time, yearn for the next time. Think of God as a friend you can't wait to talk with again. Make a plan to pray again soon.

Zealously share. Share joy by sharing love with others. Share answers received, telling others of God's greatness in providing answers.

Prayer is a continuous adventure in drawing closer to God and developing a relationship with him. It involves the desire to know, listen, and serve God, as well as sharing experiences and needs. Master these basic skills and make your family's communication with God a joyful celebration of his goodness.

Karen H. Whiting is an author and the mother of five. She and her family live in Florida.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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