Teaching our kids to pray

By Kathy Ferguson Litton

We love drawing your attention to great resources. Today we are interviewing fellow ministry wife Holly Shivers, author of two amazing books for kids. These are perfect pieces to add to your family time. I admit a huge bias here because one of my grandchildren prayed to receive Christ as her family used the “I Can Learn the Bible”. So today get to know Holly and her writing.

Q: Holly, what motivated you to write this book?

A: I have always been drawn to the prayers of a child. There is something so sweet and intimate and raw about them. I wanted to provide a tool for parents to help their kids develop this habit early on and provide the words to guide them along the way. Certainly, the two most important aspects of the Christian Life include (1) knowing God’s Word, and (2) prayer. I Can Learn the Bible emphasized the need for God’s Word to be inside of our children, and I Can Learn to Pray follows as a guide to teaching our kids to talk (and listen) to God. I believe with all of my heart that God hears every word of these little prayers. Prayer can be the vehicle that leads a child into a deeper knowledge of Almighty God. To play a part in that process is a privilege beyond words!

Q: How did you choose the topics related to prayer?

A: The book begins by talking about prayer in general terms, and trying to get the kids comfortable with just talking to God with no agenda. Just talking! I describe what prayer is, why we do it, how The Bible tells us to do it, and how to make it a habit. From there, I followed the “ACTS” model of prayer (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) based on how scripture advises us to pray. But instead of using those terms, I brought it down to a child’s level with sections such as “Wow prayers”, “Thank you prayers”, “I’m Sorry prayers”, “Help prayers” and so on. We also look at all the prayers that Jesus prayed.

Q: You have included an activity with each devotional. Why did you decide to do that? What is one example?

A: Most families I know struggle on some level with the fast, busy pace of life. We often find it difficult to find the time to set aside to one, just being together, and two, for prayer. This book builds in each of those opportunities. The family activities make this book unique in that instead of just reading to a child, you are actually walking through a process of learning to pray as a family. I love that aspect of it. I wanted to pull the kids in at the beginning of each devotional in fun and engaging ways, while not sacrificing the depth of the truths about prayer. One of my favorite parts of the book is in the “Help prayers” section. We talk about praying for those that are hungry, and those who are suffering. I have each person in the family eat one cracker or a small portion of bread and then ask them to talk about what it would be like if that is all you had to eat every day. Another activity in the “Wow prayers” section involves building a fort with your family to illustrate how God is your protector, your fortress. 

Q: What do you hope children learn from this book? How will it help their parents?

A: I hope children learn that God is available to them anytime and anywhere. I hope they hear loud and clear the message that God’s love for them does not depend on how much or how well they pray, but that their prayers can bring him great delight. I hope they can sift through all of the “why’s” and “how to’s” and walk away, simply put, just knowing God more. I pray that as parents walk their children through the book, their own prayer lives will be challenged and changed, as was mine in writing this book! I hope that the experience of praying together will create a special bond and closeness in these families.

Q: This is your second book, the first one being “I Can Read the Bible”. How does the writing process affect you? Do you have another project in mind?

A: With both of these books, receiving the physical copy and reading through the final product has been an emotional experience for me. I remember the research and the prayers and the edits and the occasional writer’s block … but much more so, through the pages of the book, I remember the times he led my typing fingers and gave me the words. I see on these pages his fingerprint and his provision through it al l… and that is a very powerful thing.

I do have a couple of projects burning in my heart! I would like to write a Bible Study for Siblings based on some Old Testament stories. I see this as a six or eight week study that kids walk through with their brothers and sisters, talking about concepts like jealousy, favoritism, wanting the best for each other, how to hold your tongue, why God gave us each other, and more. (I feel as though I am hearing an “Amen!” from moms out there somewhere.) I would also love to write a devotional on identity for “tweens.” This is something I have seen the need for first hand in my own family, and I would love to catch these kids early with these biblical ideas of who they are and where their value lies. For now, I am enjoying walking through I Can Learn to Pray with my two youngest, enjoying just being the parent on the other end!

Holly Shivers has served as a staff wife for over a decade at Prestonwood Baptist Church, where she stays involved in women’s and children’s ministries. She received her Master’s degree in counseling. Holly enjoys contributing to various writing projects but is most passionate about writing to kids. Some of her favorite things are Dr. Pepper, rainy days, family time, and especially those Dallas Cowboys! Holly lives in Texas with her husband and four kids.

Published May 5, 2016

P.S. Get our best content in your inbox

We send one email per week chock full of articles from a variety of Send Network voices.

Kathy Ferguson Litton

Kathy lives in Mobile, Alabama, with her husband Ed, pastor of Redemption Church. Both lost former spouses in car accidents, and God uniquely gave them new love and life together in 2009. Kathy enjoyed 26 years of life and ministry alongside Rick Ferguson. She has three children and ten grandchildren. Presently she serves as Director of Planting Spouse Development.