Children’s author Laura Sassi wrote this guest post about how to sing prayers with our children. I am always so encouraged by her children’s books – they’re always gentle but theologically sound, and her heart for little listeners comes through so beautifully. Make sure to check out her newest title, My Tender Heart Prayer Book.
I love connecting with God daily through prayer. It’s what keeps me grounded and focused on Him. So, from the moment my own kids were babies, I strove to plant seeds of prayer in their hearts by incorporating prayer into the fabric of our days. We prayed while walking and playing and driving in the car. We prayed when we felt sad or needed time outs.
And, praise the Lord, He answered those prayers in ways both small and big. For example, God soothed my daughter’s tears when, at age five, she was afraid losing her first tooth would hurt. It didn’t! He also blessed our family with courage and strength during my mother’s devastating diagnosis and death from ALS. Indeed, in countless ways over the years, God has calmed our fretting souls. He has been our connection when we feel all alone. He has sustained us when we fail. God has truly our help and friend.
These precious memories are one of the reasons I wrote my MY TENDER HEART PRAYER BOOK— to plant seeds of prayer in little hearts everywhere! I hope each prayer is read, prayed, enjoyed, and most importantly, that the book sparks daily spontaneous conversation with God.
But here is something interesting. When I reflect back on the specific wording of my own childhood prayers, the only ones that I remember word for word are the ones we either memorized or sang! Maybe you remember some that you sang as a child as well. Now, rooted in my desire (and maybe yours too) to foster prayer, here are four reasons to do so with song — followed by four ideas to get you started!
Should you sing your prayers?
Reason #1: We remember what we sing.
If you are anything like I am, you can remember commercial jingles, tv theme songs and even the earliest lullabies and songs that were sung to you, or that you sang, as a very small child. That’s because God designed our brains to remember melodies— and pairing those melodies with words can imprint those sung messages in our hearts and brains for a life time. What a wonderful opportunity this is to plant seeds of prayer in little hearts simply by singing them.
Reason #2: Praying with song is Biblical.
When we sing our prayers to the Lord we are following in the footsteps (or prayer steps) of countless figures big and small from the Bible including King David, Hannah, Mary and so many more! Just think of all those psalms that include the instructions “to be sung” and prayer songs like Mary’s (Matthew 1:46-56) and Hannah’s (I Samuel 2:1-10) as they thanked God for His wonderful work in their lives.
Reason #3: Singing a prayer helps little ones stay focused.
In our family we always join hands when we sing our prayers at the dinner table. (We join hands in prayer when we speak our prayers, too.) When my kids were little, though, I noticed that when we sang our prayers, they were more fully focused and engaged, and less distracted by yummy dinner and other distractions at hand.
Reason #4: Singing prayers together unites us in a common goal—connecting with God!
There’s something about singing or reciting something in unison that, at least for me, really brings home that there is power and a tangible sense of God’s presence when we join our voices towards God in praise and petition. I think little ones sense this too. I certainly sensed the wonder of joining our voices in song and prayer to God as a very young child. My earliest memory of this is of singing “Silent Night, Holy Night” as part of the Christmas Eve service. That hymn, in my opinion, is like a prayer of praise and wonder to Jesus, our Lord and Savior.
How to have meaningful prayer times with children
YOUR TURN! Are you ready to sing some prayers with your kids? Here are four easy ideas to get you started!
Idea #1: Teach your children the song prayers you remember from your childhood.
For me, these include “The Johnny Appleseed Prayer” and the traditional “For Health and Strength” both of which you can listen to on Youtube.
Idea #2: Sing a familiar hymn or praise song as your prayer.
This is another wonderful way to foster prayer through song. For this one, before singing, explain to your little ones that when we sing a hymn or praise song to God, it’s like a prayer! For extra impact, let them choose the hymn or praise song that they will be singing as a prayer to Jesus.
Idea #3: Sing instead of say your own impromptu prayer.
This was a favorite prayer mode in our house when my kids were little—especially at bedtime when, in the form of a lullaby-prayer, I’d sing a song of thanks to God for all the ways He was with my children that day. Often I would sing to the tune of “Happy Birthday” or “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” Sometimes, I just made up a melody. They loved it!
Idea #4: Take a prayer from My Tender Heart Prayer Book and sing it to the tune of a melody you know.
Each of the twenty-three prayers in this kid-friendly collection is short and simple enough to memorize or—sing! Beginning with the moment a child wakes through bedtime, there’s literally a prayer for any time of day. Together with your child, have fun picking one and singing it to the tune of a familiar song.
Blessings to you and your sweet kiddos as you pray and sing to the Lord!