How do you teach a child to pray? Prayer is simply talking to God, but explaining that to a young growing mind may seem difficult. They may struggle to understand how how they can talk to someone they cannot see? The Five Finger Prayer is a simple, visual, and fun way to teach kids what to pray for, as well as a reminder that prayer is simply a conversation with God just like a conversation with a friend.
Each finger on a hand represents a person(s) to pray for. Our hands and fingers are always right there with us, and the Five Finger Prayer is a great way to teach children to remember to pray all the time. Whenever they look down at their hands, they can remember to pray for these five different kinds of people in their life.
Prayer can really be about anything that is going on in a person’s life, but the Five Finger Prayer teaches children to focus on others and pray for them first. They should know it is not what we say when we pray that matters; it is what is happening in our hearts that matters most. Prayer is something good to practice at least once per day to develop the habit. But after prayer has become a habit it can just become a natural part of each day, like talking with friends of family.
Jesus tells us in the book of Mark 11:24, “…whatever, you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” It is essential that we pray and have faith that God is in control and will take care of us and the people that we pray for.
The Five Finger Prayer is not the only way to pray, but it is a way to pray. Children should know that they can pray with their eyes open or closed, whether their hands are folded or open, and whether their heads are up or down. These are all things we do out of respect for God and those around us, but we can most certainly pray whenever, wherever, and however works best for us.
Each finger is listed below with additional detail describing what prayer reminder that finger represents, as well as how you explain it to a child. There is also a Scripture referencing prayer included for each of the 5 prayers.
Pray for those closest to you, closest to your heart, your loved ones.
When the hands are folded to pray, the thumb is the closest finger to us and our hearts. “Those closest to you” can be your parents, siblings, grandparents, classmates/friends, or the first person who comes to your mind. Pray for them first; they are the easiest ones to remember! Encourage kids to begin their prayer by thanking God for this person. As Paul instructs in the book of Colossians, chapter 4, to the people of Colossae, “Devote yourselves to prayer….”, and he further instructs us to be watchful and thankful. The person who comes to our mind first, when we begin to think of who we should be praying for, will usually be the person we are being “watchful” or “thankful” for.
Pray for those who instruct/teach you, the people who point the way.
1 THESSALONIANS 5:25
Just like our teachers and instructors use their pointer finger to show us things, so we should use that same finger to remember to pray for them! Teaching is a big job, and the Bible tells us that they are judged more strictly as they are given more responsibility in this world. It is no easy job to teach people, so our teachers and instructors need all the prayer they can get. Remind kids to use this time pray for pastors, teachers, and anyone who helps to educate, train, or teach them. Paul, as a teacher, writes to the people of Thessalonica, asking them to pray for him at the end of chapter 5 in 1 Thessalonians. Whoever is teaching you things in and throughout your life, pray for them during the Five Finger Prayer.
Pray for those who stand tall for us and lead us.
1 TIMOTHY 2:1-2
The tallest finger reminds us to pray for those who stand tall for us. This could be our presidents or our leaders in life, such as the police, military, or government leaders too. You can remind kids that when they grow up and get jobs, this could also refer to their supervisor or boss at the job they work at. In the book of 1 Timothy, Paul is writing to Timothy and giving him instruction on how to do the important work that he is doing. Chapter 2, which is an entire chapter for instruction on worship, Paul writes to pray for “kings and all those in authority…”.
Pray for those who are weak or in pain.
The ring finger is known to be the weakest finger. Try to open a drawer handle with it, and it will be noticeably weaker than all the other fingers. This finger should remind kids to pray for those they know who are sick, hurt, in trouble. As James, the brother of Jesus writes in his book in the Bible, James, chapter 5, that “prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well….” Having the faith that if our prayers are offered in faith can make a sick person well, is truly life-changing. It is important that children understand that their prayers are important and that they mean something to God. He wants us to believe that He can heal and change all of us, no matter what situation we are in.
Pray for ourselves.
The last and smallest finger of the Five Finger Prayer should remind us that we need to pray for ourselves too. We should be placing ourselves last before God and His greatness and others and their needs. After praying for everyone else before yourself, kids should take a moment to recognize the good things they have that others may not, and give thanks for those things. Paul writes a great and very well-known verse to the people of Philippi in the book in the Bible called Philippians. In Philippians 4:6, he says that we should pray instead of being anxious about “anything.” We should pray about what is worrying us and what is on our hearts and give it to God, for He is in complete control.