One day, someone was saying a really long prayer, at least it seemed long to Bryce (age 3). Bryce got antsy and apparently wanted the prayer to be over, so he suddenly said, “Amen” and got up and left the room. When you say, “Amen,” the prayer’s over, right? His dad, Donovan, figured Bryce wanted the prayer to end so he could resume play with his cars. Sure enough, after the prayer was really over, Donovan found Bryce in the other room playing with his cars.
Elizabeth recounts this story:
“[My family and I] were camping in the remote desert and my daughter accidentally left the dome light on in the van. The van battery died. My husband took a few supplies and left camp hoping to find help. The children and I prayed and prayed for him to find help quickly. My daughter struggled with the situation because she left the light on, and prayed earnestly for her dad. Within about two hours after he left, we heard a truck and it pulled up to our campsite. Miraculously, other campers were camped much closer than I expected anyone would be camped. My daughter was really moved by that experience and felt comforted. It was a powerful experience for us–being alone in the desert and feeling comforted by having our prayers answered. It was a great way to remind us that the situation was not in our hands and God answered our prayers.”
During my childhood, my parents had us pray together for every meal and every evening. Mom always had high hopes for our spiritual enlightenment, but often the person praying would say something funny, intentionally or unintentionally, and we kids would burst into uncontrollable laughter…until shushed by dad. Despite the irreverent moments, daily prayer became an important part of my life because of the consistent efforts of my parents.
I decided to ask some children about their experiences with prayer. Sweet, simple, and full of faith, I hope you enjoy their responses.
Favorite Thing About Prayer:
Bailey (4): I get to say “Thank thee daddy can come home safely from work.”
Lynlee (3): I pray to Heavenly Father.
Kristi (5): I just like to pray.
Allie (9): Prayer is important to me because that is how we can talk to Heavenly Father and Jesus.
Blake (11): Prayer is really important, I guess, because it helps us a lot.
Kate (5): Because Heavenly Father helps me.
We bow our heads in prayer today,
We fold our arms together,
Then close our eyes, and while we pray
We talk to Heav’nly Father.
How Did You Learn To Pray?
Kyla (6): It’s all because daddy showed me how to.
Brady (8): I learned to pray from my dad & mom.
Connor (9): We learned how to pray because mom and dad picked us to say a prayer and helped us learn what to say and we kept doing that and then we just started praying on our own.
Austin (11): I learned how to pray because in Primary at church, they would always call us up to pray and they would help me know what to say, and that’s how I started to pray.
I kneel to pray ev’ry day.
I speak to Heav’nly Father.
He hears and answers me
When I pray in faith.
I begin by saying “Dear Heavenly Father”;
I thank him for blessings he sends;
Then humbly I ask him for things that I need,
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
How Do You Know If You Get an Answer to Your Prayer?
Valeska (6): I know if I get an answer to prayer if my question’s answered and no one in my family answered it.
Austin (11): I know Heavenly Father answers my prayer if I get a warm feeling in my stomach or I hear a soft voice.
Connor (9): I know the same way as Austin.
Heavenly Father, are you really there?
And do you hear and answer ev’ry child’s prayer?
Some say that heaven is far away,
But I feel it close around me as I pray.
Heavenly Father, I remember now
Something that Jesus told disciples long ago:
“Suffer the children to come to me.”
Father, in prayer I’m coming now to thee.
Pray, he is there;
Speak, he is list’ning.
You are his child;
His love now surrounds you.
He hears your prayer;
He loves the children.
Of such is the kingdom, the kingdom of heav’n.
How Has Heavenly Father Answered Your Prayers?
Blake (11): One time my dad and I were driving on the snowmobile in the mountains. We got stuck for a really long time. The snowmobile wouldn’t start. My dad was getting really tired from pulling on the starter, so I said a prayer and the very next time my dad tried to pull the starter, the snowmobile started. Then we drove back to the cabin where we were staying.
Kate (5): I prayed that some people would buy our house and someone did.
Lynlee (3): I prayed that some people would buy our house too.
Naomi (6): I had a prayer answered when something was really really lost. I prayed to find it. Someone told my mind that I should look under Finley’s crib and it was there.
Austin (11): When I was 7, my friend was being baptized. There was a BYU [Brigham Young University] football game scheduled to start right in the middle of the baptism. I wanted to go to the BYU game really bad, so said a prayer about whether I should go to my friend’s baptism or the game. After I prayed, I felt like I should go to the baptism. So I did. When I got there, my friend was baptized first out of all the kids, so I could go to the BYU game, too! I felt good about going to the baptism, and BYU won the football game.
Kyla (6): Whenever I get owies, when I pray, Jesus heals them at night.
Allie (9): When I was saying my nighttime prayers, I asked if the scriptures were true and I felt a warm feeling inside and I knew that they were true.
Kyle (13): My story is mixed with my brother and sister. It was our first big time of being home alone. My sister was 12 then. My brother just turned 8 and got the Holy Ghost. We couldn’t find our 3 year old sister in the house. We looked everywhere inside and outside. So we finally thought to say a prayer. My brother said a prayer that he could find Kristi. After the prayer, he said he felt that he should look in mom & dad’s closet and Kristi was sitting in there playing on the iPod because she didn’t want to go to bed.
Kate (5): We were in a field by the cemetery. Matthew (1) dropped his favorite cars somewhere, and we couldn’t find them. I said we should say a prayer and I said a prayer. And then we found them.
Lynlee (3): I found Matthew’s white car!
Blake (11): One time I was really scared when I was younger. I prayed and it helped me not be scared any more.
Austin (11): Once I said a prayer before I went to bed and I asked a question. Right as I closed my eyes, I had a dream with the word “Yes” everywhere I looked, so I knew I had my answer to my prayer.
(Child) Teach me to walk in the light of His love;
Teach me to pray to my Father above;
Teach me to know of the things that are right;
Teach me, teach me to walk in the light.
(Parent)Come, little child, and together we’ll learn
Of His commandments, that we may return
Home to His presence, to live in His sight
Always, always to walk in the light.
(Both) Father in Heaven, we thank thee this day
For loving guidance to show us the way.
Grateful, we praise thee with songs of delight!
Gladly, gladly we’ll walk in the light.
Teaching Kids to Pray:
Desirée (mom of 15 month old Asher): First off, we pray for every meal. The prayers are usually very quick and to the point when it’s just the two of us, but we’ve been consistent. Sometimes at meals, I’ll be praying while he’s drinking or even eating (if I forget to pray first), but I always tell him we’re going to pray and ask him to fold his arms. His folded arms last a few seconds and then he’s after the food, but I think he’s slowly starting to get the idea. We have a longer family prayer at night where we all kneel down, but again, he’ll only stay with us for a second, if we’re lucky, and then he wanders off or starts banging on our heads. I have to say though that our Family Home Evening lesson last night was my favorite. It was a short lesson, but I felt good about it. He’s grasping more than I think he is.
Donovan (dad of 5): The most important thing for us is to just help them feel like their prayers are going to somebody–being heard by somebody. We don’t really “teach” prayer specifically, they kids are just involved in prayer by the time they can talk. They want to pray because everyone else is praying. At first you help them know what things to say, but it’s not long before they just want to say the prayer on their own.
Claudia (mom of 3, Brooke (3) has Rett Syndrome and is physically handicapped): Ever since they were born, we have made an effort to have family prayer every night, and have had each child do their own personal prayer every night. Their prayers usually include how grateful they are for watching many movies throughout the day, and also they continue to pray for Brooke to learn to talk and walk like they do.
Daciana (mom of 3): I consistently remind the children of reasons to pray. If someone is sick, for example, then I suggest that we should pray for help to get better. If something is lost, then I suggest that we pray for it to be found. They realize that they can pray for lots of different reasons.
Elizabeth (mom of 4): I’ve watched my kids go off by themselves to pray when they need heavenly comfort or help finding something. My kids have learned as much about prayer by what they haven’t received answers to as from what they have received answers to. “I prayed to find this toy and I haven’t yet” leads to a discussion about why Heavenly Father might not answer that prayer yet. Sometimes they feel frustrated, but often they come back later having thought about it and say, “Well, maybe He wants me to learn to take better care of my things.” Those discussions help them realize that Heavenly Father hears their prayers, and sometimes the prayers are answered quickly, sometimes slowly, and sometimes not at all, but they’re learning to look for God’s reason in how their prayers are answered.
Daylen (dad of 4): I really like it when the kids pray that “dad gets home from work safe.” I travel a lot for work and have been in some crazy traffic or weather and always think of their prayers for me to get home safely. And I do get home safely.
Mark (dad of 3): My main purpose in teaching my kids to pray is for them to know that Heavenly Father is there and He answers prayer. They learn to be grateful for Him and need to know they can turn to Him in prayer.
Darla (mom of 8): All the kids wanted to pray a lot. When the children were babies, we would sit with them on our laps and fold their arms. I used to “peek” during the prayer to see how the child was doing, but then decided to keep my eyes closed and my arms folded so that he could see how to pray.
Sharing Experiences With Prayer
Along with praying with children at home, true stories about prayer also teach children how God hears and answers prayers. My great grandmother, Edith Smith Bushman, felt so strongly that her descendants needed access to stories of faith and prayer that she compiled a book full of them as a legacy to her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She prefaced her book, “Climbing Life’s Mountains” with “I have gathered the following true stories from friends, neighbors and relatives in hopes my grandchildren and great-grandchildren will read them and develop more faith in our Heavenly Father and thereby be better men and women.”
The following story, included in Grandma Edith’s book, entitled, “An Answer To Prayer” by Ivis Farnsworth, tells of a childhood experience Ivis and her friend Ellen had with prayer.
It was Sunday afternoon, Father and Mother and some of the children had gone to church. My sister, Ethel, and I were home with the younger children.
Father had a fine mare that had a new foal a few days before, and he had the mare and colt in the corral but somehow they got out. We had a windmill over a large open well. When it ran the water emptied into a large reservoir. The mare came to the well for a drink and the colt, following, went too close to the open well and fell in.
Ethel told my little girlfriend and me to run to church and get Father. It was five blocks away. When we got there we were afraid to go in. I knew father was on the stage for he was in the bishopric.
At the back of the stage was an outside door but no steps up to it, just a plank. We were so frightened we didn’t dare try to walk the plank. We waited to see if someone would come out but no one appeared. I said to Ellen, “Let’s pray and ask Heavenly Father to send someone to the door.” In a few minutes Brother Jesse N. Smith Jr. came out and seeing us standing there asked us what we wanted.
“Please tell Brother Call to come quick,” I said. He went in and in a second Father was with us. I told him what had happened. He ran all the way home, with us trying to keep up.
Soon the colt was out of the well and with its mother again.
Years later in a Sunday School Preparation Meeting, Brother Smith, then Stake Sunday School Superintendent related this:
“One Sunday years ago, I was sitting on the stage in a Sacrament Meeting listening to the speaker. When I heard someone say, “Go to the door”. I looked around but saw no one. Twice more the voice came so I got up and went to the door. Looking out I saw two little frightened girls. I asked them the trouble and they asked me to have someone in church come out. I can’t remember who it was or who the girls were but I have often thought about the incident and how I was prompted to go to the door.” Brother Smith said he went back in the meeting and didn’t think any more about it just then but from time to time he would think about the prompting he had to go to the door.
When he was through speaking and sat down, I raised my hand and told him that Ellen Jones and I were the little frightened girls and my father, Brother Call, was the man we wanted. He asked me to tell the teacher about it. I did and Ellen Jones was present and did the same. We both felt it was a direct answer to prayer, and it was indeed impressive to me since I was only eight years old. It was an answer to the first prayer that I remember. This incident happened about 1897-98 and Brother Smith telling it was about 1910.
How do you know Heavenly Father answers your prayers? I believe that He hears and answers all of our prayers–through a peaceful feeling, thoughts that come to our minds, other people, dreams, miracles, and sometimes even the opportunity to understand why a prayer seems to remain unanswered.