In our A Mama Heart Like Jesus series, we are studying how Jesus discipled His followers as a model for discipling our own children.
First we looked at how Jesus taught his disciples to prioritize God’s Word as a model for Encouraging our Kids to Prioritize God’s Word.
Now let’s take a look at how Jesus taught His disciples the importance of prayer.
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Luke 5:16 (NIV)
“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’” Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV)
Let’s look at three ways Jesus taught His disciples the importance of prayer.
1. Jesus Modeled Prayer.
One of the best ways to teach something is to model it, and this is exactly what Jesus did. There are numerous examples in Scripture where Jesus models different ways of praying.
First, Jesus modeled praying by Himself, and Scripture is clear that His disciples saw prayer modeled often in Jesus’ life. (Luke 5:16, Luke 11:1)
Second, Jesus prayed in front of the disciples. We see this in Scripture when He thanks God for His provisions before feeding the 5,000, when He is healing the sick, and even raising the dead. He also earnestly prays in the garden with his disciples nearby before his crucifixion. He modeled a conversation with God throughout the day by praying aloud for the disciples to hear.
Third, Jesus prays for the disciples. In John 16 Jesus is talking with His disciples about his coming death, and as soon as He finishes his conversation, John 17 states, “After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed…” The whole chapter is then a prayer he prays aloud for His disciples and those who will believe in His name.
As Mamas with a heart like Jesus, prayer should be of utmost importance. Our kids should catch us praying when they come into our rooms in the morning. They should hear us praying out loud spontaneously throughout the day, whether it is a prayer of thanksgiving or a cry for help, as Jesus did. They should hear us praying for them frequently. Hearing prayer modeled in a natural way as a conversation with God will help prayer become second nature to them as well.
2. Jesus Taught His Disciples How to Pray.
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He gave them the Lord’s Prayer, a model prayer which is very helpful for our children not only to memorize, but to help them understand different types of prayers.
- Our Father who art in Heaven: how to address God when speaking to Him
- Hallowed be thy name: praising God for His attributes (come up with a list with your kids for them to use)
- Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven: telling God we want to follow His leading as our Lord
- Give us this day our daily bread: asking for our provisions
- And forgive us our tresspasses as we forgive those who trespass against us: asking for forgiveness when we sin and forgiving those who mistreat us
- Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil: asking God to protect us from our enemy and from temptations
It is important that our kids learn that prayer is not just about asking God for the things we want, but prayer is a daily, ongoing conversation that includes praising and thanking God and asking for His help throughout our day.
3. Jesus Teaches Why Prayer Is So Important.
In John 15:5, Jesus teaches the disciples the importance of prayer: remaining in Him.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
A chapter later, He also explains that when He leaves for Heaven, the Holy Spirit will be their guide. The Holy Spirit will lead and direct our lives when we don’t just talk but listen to Him speak. Teach your children to be quiet and wait before the Lord and write down what He is speaking to their hearts. When your children practice this skill, coupled with hearing and receiving God’s Word, they will truly grow in their relationship with their Heavenly Father.
Our children need to understand how important it is as a follower of Jesus to stay connected with Him through prayer. It is the crux of the Christian life, and through it we will have a relationship with our Maker and be fully equipped for every good work God has for us.