little girl in striped shirt praying at bedside

Bedtime Prayer for Kids: 5 Tips to Help Children Grow in Faith

You’ve probably heard this old fashioned bedtime prayer for kids. Let me guess: you’re not a fan, either?

Now I lay me down to sleep

I pray the Lord my soul to keep

If I should die before I wake

I pray the Lord my soul to take.

Amen.

Some dude, a very long time ago.

Friends, this is not why you’re here – surely!? Unless you’re doing some research project and typed into Google “creepy bedtime prayer for children.”

So let’s get on with it. How can we teach our children to talk with God before bed? How can we help them grow in faith and faithfulness?

My posts often contain affiliate links. If you click on something, I may get a few cents from Amazon, but it won’t affect your purchase price.

Tip 1: For younger kids, begin the bedtime prayer with something scripted and memorized.

Talking with God feels kind of foreign and weird at first, even for kids. It can be hard for them to get started. It makes sense to start with something practiced and memorized, to create automaticity. It stops them from being overwhelmed or confused.

In our family, the automatic part of our bedtime prayer sounds like this:

Dear God,

Thank you for this day.

Thank you for my family.

Thank you for my friends.

Thank you for my health.

You can make that part of your prayer whatever you’d like! The key is that it shouldn’t require much thinking. Here, we’re just trying to get them started, and build a bit of discipline and habit.

When they were itty bitty, and didn’t always feel very compliant with bedtime prayer, we let them stop there and just add an “Amen” to the end.

As they’ve gotten older, we ask a simple question when they finish the prayer above: “Is there anything else you want to talk with God about?”

little smiling girl praying at bedside

Tip 2: Add into your child’s bedtime prayer an easy conversation with God.

Sometimes, after the scripted part of our prayer, the kiddo who is praying will be ready to end the conversation with God, and that’s okay with me. After all, we don’t really want to teach our kids that part of being a Christ follower is having forced, long conversations with God just to check a box.

And let’s face it – sometimes, we don’t really wanna talk about much of anything – with God or anyone else!

But you can help kids with their relationship with God by encouraging easy conversation with God – the kind they might have with a friend.

So when they finish the scripted, memorized part of their bedtime prayer, ask them this: “Is there anything else you’d like to talk with God about?”

Let’s imagine your child tells you they’d like to talk about a test they have tomorrow at school, or a friend who wasn’t very nice. If they aren’t practiced yet with prayer, now is a good time to model how that might sound.

Here’s how you might model this conversation with God:

Dear God,

Thank you for this day.

Thank you for my family.

Thank you for my friends.

Thank you for my health.

God, I wanted to talk with you about my test tomorrow. I still don’t really understand it very well. Help me try my best tomorrow and not get too nervous.

Amen.

When you listen to your child’s pray, avoid correcting any bad theology you overhear. Sure, it might be kinda silly to pray that they’ll get a 100 on that test tomorrow, when you know:

  1. Your child didn’t study one single bit;
  2. God doesn’t care much about the grade.

But that isn’t the point. Your job is to encourage him to talk with God like He’s a friend, and you wouldn’t correct him if he was sharing his desires with a friend. So let it go, and save the theology for the car ride home the next day.

little boy saying bedtime prayer with hands to forehead

I love this book because it teaches creative prayer. There are more than 75 prayer exercises and activities that aren’t necessarily quiet, or even still. Kids love to move, and God loves kids. Let their prayers be wild!

Tip 3: For older kids, consider a bedtime prayer framework.

If you’ve got teenagers or mature children who are wanting to work on their prayer life, you can teach them the ACTS prayer. It’s an acronym that goes like this:

A: Adoration – Here, they open the prayer with worship, by telling God what they know to be true about Him. What do we know to be true about God? Say it here. For example, “God, your scripture says that you are good, and I know that’s true. You always want what’s best for me. You are the source of my peace when I’m afraid. God, you watch over me and love me.”

PS – Scripture memory can help kids with prayer! Read more about my favorite scriptures for kids to memorize here.

C: Confession – Next, kids can talk with God about what’s troubling them. Confessing our sins to God reminds us that we need Him and also that other people are deserving of forgiveness. It grounds us. Daily reflection gives us the opportunity to move forward at peace with ourselves.

T: Thanksgiving – What can we be grateful for each day? Since we are about to go to God with our requests, in what ways has he already blessed us?

S: Supplication – Here’s a big word that just means making requests to God. Remind kids that supplication is about petition God on behalf of others and ourselves.

kids holding hands with adult in prayer

Tip 4: For young kids, do not include repentance and forgiveness as part of your prayer framework.

I know this runs counter to what Tip 3 says, but I think daily confession to God is best left to teenagers and more mature Christians. Most little kids simply lack the ability to reflect on sinfulness as part of a daily habit.

That DOESN’T mean you avoid conversations about sin, repentance, and asking God and others for forgiveness.

I just think it should happen more organically and throughout the day, rather than requiring them to reflect on a nightly or daily basis in such a structured way.

Imagine that you pick up your child from school, and they tell you about a conflict with their friend. My kindergartener would frequently tell me about her best friend at school, who often would threaten to not be her friend anymore. Hurt, my daughter would often retaliate with other mean comments, and then be sad when it backfired.

What a mess.

I don’t want her to dread our evening prayer time, and I also want her to deal with this stuff in the moment. So if our conversation produces some reflection on her part, in which she realizes she needs forgiveness (from both her friend and God), we stop and pray about it right then rather than waiting for bedtime. She almost always feels better, and we have a plan in place for the next day.

teenagers praying with hands folded on Bible

Side note: Here’s how I teach kids and teenagers about the Trinity.

Tip 5: Teach them to talk with God throughout the day.

Teaching bedtime prayer is a great way to help your child build on their faith. You can also introduce a blessing before every meal.

But most importantly, teach your child that conversation with God can happen at any time.

You can model this at home by stopping frequently when upset, worried, confused, or even just contented or happy. Pray aloud so your child can see you and learn from you. Speak very honestly, tell God about how you’re feeling, and they’ll learn to do the same.

Finally, don’t be so concerned with saying a beautiful prayer, or an eloquent one. An honest prayer is more than good enough.

pin for bedtime prayer

Similar Posts