Covering your children in prayer is important, as is building in them a habit of praying. Pastor Eileen Toh of HarvestKidz explains how to do it.
“Prayer is important. It is not a religious duty—it is talking to God. It is a two-way conversation: you hear from God, and you obey. It is a very real and loving relationship,” explains Eileen Toh, the pastor who oversees HarvestKidz, City Harvest Church’s children’s ministry. The mother of 8-year-old Kairos also heads the Intercessory Ministry in CHC.
Prayer is important, and praying for our children is very important. For the younglings under our care, our prayers provide the spiritual covering that they need to flourish.
Yet being a praying parent does not come automatically. “It is by discipline, desire and design,” Pastor Eileen asserts, sharing her personal experience as a mother praying over her son. “You must really plan to be a praying parent, it does not happen by default. There must be first a desire, then a design to planning a time for it. Finally, you have to discipline yourself to pray. The challenge for all parents is to stay disciplined and consistent.”
Pastor Eileen suggests small steps for busy parents: “Parents who have a busy schedule can start with five to 10 minutes of prayer time with your child.
“For us, the best time is when Kairos is preparing for bed. We have been introducing Bible reading to him so that he has the Bible in mind before he sleeps. He will read other books first and end off with reading one chapter of the Bible. We will then pray a short prayer before he sleeps,” she describes.
To help children understand the Bible, it is useful to focus on just a few verses. “Since Kairos was 2, we have been teaching him from Ephesians 6, and we got him to memorise the six pieces of the armour of God (Eph 6:11-18). We are still using those verses today. It is very useful because children need the protection of the Lord, especially during the pandemic.”
THE PARENT’S RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD IS IMPORTANT
When it comes to teaching our children to pray, parents must first have a relationship with God. “Praying with your children cannot substitute your own personal quiet time,” Pastor Eileen teaches. “If parents only pray with their children, they may be able to sustain this for a while, but not in the long run. You cannot give the gift of a prayer life if that is not something you have yourself.”
She shares a practical way to allocate time. “If you have 15 minutes to spare in a day, then take 10 minutes to be with the Lord, and five minutes to pray with your child. This can grow as you journey with the Lord.”
Our personal journey with God is as important as our efforts to pray with our children. “Your children should grow up seeing you pray—when you spend time in your prayer closet, when you speak in tongues, or when you seek God every time you encounter a situation. And it’s not just praying in your heart, prayers must be heard and felt in your spirit,” she explains.
One example of a praying mother is Susanna Wesley, John Wesley’s mother. She raised 19 children in undoubtedly a very busy household, yet she still found time to do her quiet time on her rocking chair, with just a handkerchief covering her face and her children in the same room. John Wesley went on to become the leader of the Methodist revival movement.
“We can pray over prayer items with our children,” Pastor Eileen says. “It could be a prayer for their friend who has COVID-19—for God to give him a quick recovery—and for the salvation of loved ones. This is to remind our children that these are the things we are asking God for.” She added that this would also help children experience God answering their prayers and motivate them to be persistent in prayer.
“As a mother, I also pray that Kairos will love God and love a girl one day. Before he leaves the house each day, I would also pray that he fulfils the destiny and purpose of God in his life,” the pastor shares.
For parents who want to learn to pray with and for their children, Pastor Eileen recommends two books: Praying Circles Around Your Children by Mark Batterson and Everything A Child Should Know About God by Kenneth Taylor. She also recommends family devotional materials like Give Us Today Our Daily Bread by Our Daily Bread Ministries and Through The Bible by John Grayston, which is a timeline that helps little Christians understand the big story of the Bible.
8 SEASONS FOR THE PRAYING PARENT
Our children go through various stages and seasons in their lives. We pray for them not just when they are little toddlers snuggling beside us during bedtime, but also when they are adults starting their own families. Here are some Bible verses that you can pray and confess for their children.
1. Before and during pregnancy
God has seen your children even before they were formed in the womb. He creates your children and has a perfect will and destiny for each one of them.
“For You formed my inmost being;
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Marvellous are Your works,
and I know this very well.
My frame was not hidden from You
when I was made in secret,
when I was woven together
in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all my days were written in Your book
and ordained for me
before one of them came to be.”
2. For the children’s future
We must declare that God has a wonderful plan ahead for them, on earth and in heaven.
Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
1 Peter 1:3-4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy, He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,”
3. For children who are in school
Parents cannot be with their children 24/7, so trust that the Lord will place the right people in their lives and that they will learn well in school.
Romans 8:28, “All things work together for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.”
Proverbs 12:26, “The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”
Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
4. For divine health
As parents, we stand firm upon the promises of the Lord and pray these over our children when they are unwell.
2 Kings 20:5, “This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says, ‘I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you.’”
Jeremiah 30:17, “’But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the Lord.”
1 Peter 2:24, “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds, you have been healed.”
5. For their spiritual journey
We must pray and believe that our children will walk closely with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, that they will desire for more of Him through good times and bad times, and live out God’s perfect will for their lives.
Luke 2:52, “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and all the people.”
John 10:27, “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.”
2 Peter 1:5-8, “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
2 Corinthians 4:17-18, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
6. For them to have a Godly spouse
After the decision to follow Jesus, marriage is the most important decision that requires a life-long commitment. You don’t have to wait till they are an adult to pray for their spouse. Start praying when they are young.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
Proverbs 19:14, “House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.”
Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church 6. and gave himself up for her.”
1 Peter 3:7, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honour to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”
7. For children who are far from God
Pray for the hearts of children who are away from God, that they will see that God is good, that God will do a work in their hearts and lead them back to Him.
Romans 2:4, “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?”
Jeremiah 24:7, “Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the LORD; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.”
Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
8. For the adults
Here are some verses to declare over children who have grown up and are working in the marketplace, or who have their own families. Pray that they will continue to lean on God and glorify Him in their ways.
Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”