Thursday, May 30, 2013

Written Prayers with Children

My 7-year-old daughter does not like to pray. At least that is what she tells people. When probed a bit further, what she really means is that she doesn't like to pray out loud. Who knows why? Maybe praying out loud just isn't her best way of expressing herself to God. Maybe she is intimidated by her older brother, who loves to pray out loud. 

She also says sometimes that she doesn't know how to pray, which is probably the real issue. So after pondering for some time how to help find her own way to pray, I noticed that she was showing a great interest in writing, both in English and in German. 

Near the middle of her first grade year, she began to show a real desire to express herself through the written word. She wrote stories, made cards for people, and even wrote a "secret message" for me on the bathroom mirror that showed up after I took a shower.: )

Shortly after observing this, I came across the book, Writing to God: Kids' Edition, by Rachel G. Hackenberg. 

In this book, the author explains how prayer is like a conversation and then offers short prompts for written prayers. It is divided into several sections with writing prompts based on:

  • the 5 senses
  • feelings
  • Scripture verses
  • nature
  • thankfulness
  • ordinary events
  • using metaphors and similes (which she calls "using new words and pictures")

I made each child a prayer journal by stapling paper together, and we have been journaling together in our evening devotions. Not every night, but a couple of nights a week. 

And my daughter has been delighted by it. Her prayers are simple and heart-felt. They remind me to take time to enjoy the simple things in life.: )

If you are a Godly Play teacher or work with children in church settings, it might be worth your time to incorporate some of the ideas in this book into your classroom. 


  1. It comforts me to think that because God knows us so individually, my own relationship with him (and communication with him) will be unique. How good that you have found a way to encourage your daughter in a prayer style which suits her personality better than praying aloud.

    1. Many years ago I would have been disturbed by her not wanting to pray aloud and probably would have forced the issue. I'm so thankful for all of the writing and research that has gone into children's spirituality and the theology of childhood that has profoundly affected my life. Not to mention Maria Montessori's work.

  2. This looks like a great book! I am going to try to get my hands on this. DJ feels the same way about praying out loud. I have been enjoying reading your postings. Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. So glad that this is helpful, and so glad that you are sensitive to DJ's needs. He is a blessed little boy!

  3. I'm always heartened when I find another way to honor a child's connection with God. Thanks, as always