Prayer mechanics checklist: help your children tune up their prayers

by Charles White, Christian Examiner Contributor |
Photo: Jon Tyson/Unsplash

Imagine a school teacher saying to his class: "Math is fun. Math is useful. Math will never fail you. Class dismissed." How much math has he really taught? Absolutely nothing. In this way math and prayer are very much alike. No child can hope to learn either without daily PRACTICE.  The shame of our nation is not that we fail to teach prayer in the schools but that we fail to teach it in the home and the church. We can view prayer as a car that needs to be maintained and repaired or like math as a skill that needs practiced. It really doesn't matter. When you look under the hood you ALWAYS find Jesus and his great love. Share this checklist with your children. Like riding a bike and learning to read, learning to pray should be a part of every childhood.

1. Are you praying first thing in the morning? The first prayer of the day is a hundred times as important as the last. Pray before you get into trouble... not after. Pray early... not late. Psalm 5:3

2. Are you asking in faith? Do you believe God is real and that he is on your side? Can you picture God leaning over the edge of heaven looking for ways to bless you and reward you? Or do you tend to blame God for the bad behavior of Satan and other human beings? Nothing can hurt a prayer more than a wrong idea of God. He is a fixer. He is a friend. He is a healer. He can be trusted. Trusting in this FACT is what faith is all about.

3. Do you tell God what to do, or do you ask him? If you have been ordering God around you will never learn the very best thing about prayer... God's gentle spirit leading you to him. Jer. 33:3

4. Are you praying with a pure heart? Are you angry with someone? Forgive them. Have you sinned? Repent. Are you ungrateful? Thank God for past prayers answered. Are you praying selfishly? Make a list of others to pray for. Matt 6:14-15, Proverbs 28:13

5. Is there an altar in your home, even a small table with an open Bible? There should be. An altar reminds us of the one great rules of prayer... practice, practice, practice. If there is no altar, we will not develop the prayer muscle, a daily prayer HABIT.

6. Is your prayer in line with scripture? We cannot pray rightly without Bible verses, but we cannot understand those verses without praying for the Holy Spirit to help us. Scripture and prayer... you can't do one without the other. Psalm 107:19-20

7. Have you prayed with someone else? Scripture gives only three ways that human beings are joined: in marriage, in prayer and in Christ. If you want your children connected to the church for life, find them at least 3 adult prayer partners and two peers. Praying with others is habit forming... and addictive. Get connected... join a prayer group. 1 Peter 5:13

8. Are you praying in Jesus' name? This could be many things because Jesus has many names: healer, savior, deliverer, etc., but for sure it means praying with LOVE because God is love. Praying in His name also means letting the Holy Spirit come into your heart and guide the prayer as he would. John 14:26

—Charles White has spent 40 years dedicating himself to helping parents teach their children to pray.  He has created various resources on his website,, and after all these years, he still believes that the ONE THING most likely to connect a child to church and God is a habit of prayer.