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How to Pray With Kids When They Feel Scared
One of the most common prayer requests I hear coming from kids and parents is for bad dreams to go away. When it comes to fear, I can personally really relate, as I dealt with feelings of being scared quite often. Whether it was being scared of the dark, thinking there was something under my bed, or frightened of what could happen, knowing how to pray and having someone to pray with were crucial in my journey toward overcoming my fears. I suppose this topic is not just for kids or parents, but for anyone who has ever felt scared or is feeling scared about something even now as you are reading this. The key to prayer against feelings of fear, is to first know the One you are praying to, know what He has promised you, speak the name of Jesus, feed your spirit, and move toward the things in your life that bring peace.
1. Know the One you are praying to
Now may the God of peace — who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood (Hebrews 13:20 NLT)
From the verse above and from many more we could quote, we come to know that God is the God of peace. He is all powerful. He cares for our needs like a good Shepherd cares for sheep. And all those who put their faith in His son Jesus Christ, by accepting and receiving Him as Lord and Saviour, have the right to become children of God (John 1:12). So then because of the blood covenant that Jesus made possible for us, we can know God as our Heavenly Father. That means He is close to us, we know He loves us, and we know that He cares about every detail of our lives (Matthew 10:30-31).
Parents, it is important that you share with your kids who God is to you in accordance with the Bible, as well as what He has done for you. When we know the God we pray to, we can approach Him with greater confidence, trust, and faith!
2. Know what God has promised you
In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe. (Psalm 4:8 NLT)
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV)
God has much to say on the topic of fear so take time to study the Bible and look for Scripture together that will inform your prayers. Be sure to read verses in context so that you can better assess if it can apply to your situation, that is, read a few verses before and a few verses after to better understand what a verse is saying. For instance, if a verse addresses the children of Israel being fearful, and God reminding them why they should trust Him, you can draw from that example the timeless unchanging character of God and what He is able to do again. Write these scriptures down and begin using them in prayer. Speaking God’s Word is powerful! Jesus Himself is our example when He responded to the devil using Scripture three times in the face of temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). Not only this, but we know that God’s Word is alive and powerful (Hebrews 4:12) and so speaking it aloud amid fear is important (Revelation 12:11).
Parents, I encourage you to have written/typed scriptures placed somewhere visible for your child to refer to often and confess aloud in prayer every day, and especially when they are feeling scared.
3. Speak the name of Jesus
And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name [Jesus] they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. (Mark 16:17 NKJV)
There is power in the name of Jesus. In his sermon this past Sunday, Pastor Dave gives a clear breakdown as to why the name of Jesus is so great, powerful, and mighty. Watch or listen to the message by clicking here.
I have personally experienced the power of using the name of Jesus many times, but none was clearer than when I was attacked by an owl! I was all alone at dusk near my house in a residential area. Out of nowhere, an owl stealthily approached my head, grabbed my hair bun, and pulled it until it became undone. I was shocked and very scared. In a panic, I began to make a run for it until it came at me again, this time the owl’s claw brushing ever so slightly against my scalp, just missing impact on my head. My body going into flight/fright mode, I began to scream, shout, pray aloud, speak in tongues, cry out for help, but nothing changed until I specifically shouted “Jesus, help me!” At that very moment, help appeared, a house nearby turned their lights on and there were two people who came out to my rescue. I have reflected on this incident many times and I keep concluding that it was the powerful name of Jesus that made all the difference, and it must be used when fighting a spiritual battle against fear.
Parents, practice praying with your kids. Start with addressing God, thank Him for His promises, speak Scripture aloud, command fear to leave in Jesus’ name, and invite the peace of God to come. Teach them to pray with the confidence and authority that we have in Christ to see our circumstances change, and the Kingdom of God realized in our lives.
4. Feed your spirit
Jesus said: It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'” (Matthew 4:4; Deuteronomy 8:3 NKJV)
Whenever I was scared, whether in my room or walking home at night, I would sing worship songs and speak Scripture in prayer, declaring God’s truth in my situation. This would help a lot, but I found that I needed to do this many times in one evening. I would sometimes feel discouraged that the feelings of fear did not completely leave, and that somehow, I was using God’s Word like some “good luck charm”, pulling it out only when I felt scared. Many of us can attest to running to God more often when we are in a crisis, as opposed to daily for our every need. When it comes to our daily nutrition, we tend to eat at least 3 times a day. What we do not think about as often is how we have a spirit that needs feeding too! How does this apply to our battle against fear? When we are spiritually starved, we will find it more challenging to stand strong against the devil’s schemes and attacks.
From personal experience, I can say with confidence that nothing has helped me overcome fear in my daily life more than remaining in God’s Word daily and consuming it as often as I would my daily meals. As I spend time reading the Bible to know God better, something is taking place in my spirit over time that I cannot see with my eyes or feel with my senses. Jesus Himself prayed to God for all believers everywhere, that we would be made holy by the truth of God’s Word (John 17:17). The Apostle Paul would later write to the church in Ephesus about how Jesus gave His life for us so that we could be made holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of power of God’s Word (Ephesians 5:26).
Parents, build excitement around reading God’s Word daily with your child. Give it greater importance than anything else and lead by example. For older kids, encourage following a Bible reading plan and have a time of sharing what they learned about God and what He wants for His people.
5. Move toward the things in your life that bring peace
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me — everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8,9 NLT)
Everything we have discussed up to this point has dealt with how we can effectively pray against fear in our lives. But if after we pray, we continue to watch, listen, read, or hang around the things that make us feel scared, we will find ourselves in a perpetual cycle of fear, leaving us to wonder why our prayers do not seem effective. It is important to take time to assess what is the root cause of our fears and what could be making it worse. One grandparent told me that her granddaughter started having nightmares after watching a Halloween-themed Peppa Pig show, and so after praying with the child, I encouraged the grandma to switch to shows that encourage faith in Jesus and promote Christian values. A great resource is Right Now Media, which is a compilation of all types of Christian videos, including shows for kids, that can be found on our kids webpage, https://coastalchurch.org/kids
The point being made here is the importance of filtering everything we see, read, think, listen to, or hang around with through the clear guidelines that the Apostle Paul wrote about in Philippians 4:8. Is what I am about to watch true? Is what I am going to listen to honorable? Is what I am going to read right and pure? Are the friends I hang around with lovely, and admirable? Are my thoughts excellent and worthy of praise? Because if they are, then I can know that God’s peace will be with me. If they are not, then I know that having God’s peace will be a challenge.
Parents, be a gatekeeper for your child, assessing the things they watch, read, listen to, think about, or hang around. Encourage the things and influences that promote peace in your child’s life and mind.
So how do I pray with my child when he or she feels scared? The key to prayer against feelings of fear, is to first know the One you are praying to, know what He has promised you, speak the name of Jesus, feed your spirit, and move toward the things in your life that bring peace. I have seen these principles and steps work with many children at Coastal Church. One boy who had an intense fear after accidentally watching a scary video, learned to pick up the Bible, the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17), and pray with authority, using the powerful name of Jesus. Over time his fears dissipated and his confidence in God grew. I honestly believe, that by faith, this is possible with any believer in Jesus.
Mom or dad, uncle or aunty, grandma, or grandpa, you can rest assured that you have an amazing Helper, the Holy Spirit, ready to help you as you help the child in your life overcome fear.
And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. (Galatians 6:9 NKJV)