Now that we’ve covered the two most common types of prayer parents do with their kids, let’s see where else we can go with this. A lot of you will know this one, but let’s take a look at it in the context of teaching our kids. If it’s new to you, I think you’re really going to like it! Let me show you how to pray ACTS.
There are a lot of these handy-dandy little acronyms to teach you how to pray, and I like this one. It means you pray Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and then Supplication.
Adoration is praying to God about how great you know He is. How has He revealed something about himself? Pray and thank Him for it. It’s the love letter portion of the prayer.
Confession is owning up to your sin, and in private, this should be specific. This is a tough one to teach your kids, but you need to do it. If you don’t, who’s going to teach them the importance of confessing their sin?
This is the time to use good judgment in modeling this with your kids. Good: “Lord, forgive me for my bad attitude today. Instead of appreciating the blessings in my life, I was negative and critical. Please change my heart.” Bad: “Lord, please forgive me for watching three hours of pornography today. I know…” You get the idea. But be sure you tell your kids that in private, you hold nothing back. God knew you were going to do it before you did, so it’s not like it’s new information. You’re respecting Him enough to bring it to Him instead of trying to hide it.
Let me tell you something else that’s really important about confession for your kids who haven’t made a profession of faith. Looking their own sin in the face and seeing its presence in their lives is necessary for them to understand that they have a sin problem. When they understand that, they can understand that it’s a problem in desperate need of a solution, and they can’t solve it for themselves. They need Jesus. Understanding your own sin is the beginning of the Gospel.
Thanksgiving is just what it sounds like. You’re thanking God for the things you should thank Him for. Modeling this to your kids teaches them that everything good comes from God (James 1:17), and that it’s important to take the time to thank Him for it. Developing a spirit of gratitude in your kids is really giving the the gift of joy in their lives. Thanksgiving prayers aren’t just for turkey time!
Supplication (asking for requests) is our favorite, which is why I like that it’s last. Let’s just be honest here, mom-to-mom, okay? Aren’t we most compelled to run to the Lord in prayer when we have urgent prayer requests? We never forget to pray then, do we? But we never, ever, ever want to teach our kids that God is a cosmic genie waiting to be summoned to grant our wishes. Definitely teach your kids to take those requests to God–any requests–but always with an attitude of wanting to move our requests in the direction of God’s will. This is a hard one, and it takes maturity, so stay the course. Our human nature wants to pray things so God will do them our way, but part of the purpose of prayer is to bring us closer to God, know His will, and pray to be in alignment with His will, not the other way around. That’s hard.
As far as Supplication goes, when I say any requests, I mean any requests. We don’t want our kids to think there are some things God cares about and other things He doesn’t. Everything is under His watchful eye. The more you encourage your kids when they’re little to take their little requests to God (Help me find someone to sit with at lunch, or Help me find my truck I left at the park), the more they will take the bigger things to him when they’re bigger.
Last but not least–point it out when God answers a prayer! That should be part of your next prayer of Thanksgiving. Be sure you’re showing your kids that it’s not over when we get what we want. You make them tell Grandma “thank you” for the birthday present, so teach them to tell God “thank you” for answering a prayer. Sometimes this will mean showing how God answered it in a way they didn’t expect. Don’t you just see the teachable moments popping up all over the place? Pretty exciting stuff!
I created a one-page printable to go with this post summarizing this method. You might want to put it on the fridge to remind you how to do it. If your child is of reading age, put it low on the fridge so they can see it, too!