As Jesus taught and modeled to His disciples a lifestyle of prayer, so must we as parents teach and model to our main disciples—our children—a life of prayer.

Imparting a Legacy of Prayer to Our Children

by Patricia Bootsma
3/15/18 Training and Events

A new level of prayer the Lord was inviting me and my family into began with a praying mantis perched on our suburban Toronto doorstep every morning for three weeks. “Odd,” I thought. Praying mantises (green insects with little “hands” clasped in prayer) may be found in farmers’ fields but do not normally come into the city and particularly do not arrive at the same door for three weeks in a row. After some inquiring of the Lord, I realized He was trying to get a point across—it was time to learn to pray at a whole new level. Making a long-term story short, within a few months my husband and I began to give our mornings to the Lord in intensive prayer; we launched a house of prayer and later helped build numerous other houses of prayer worldwide. Along the way, we realized we couldn’t “do” house of prayer until we and our family, including our six children, had become a house of prayer.

Little eyes are watching and little ears are listening as mothers and fathers either reflect (or not) the will of the Lord. Jesus’ disciples were also watching and listening to Him as He prayed, impelling them to ask, “Teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). As Jesus taught and modeled to His disciples a lifestyle of prayer, so must we as parents teach and model to our main disciples—our children—a life of prayer. One of the most touching statements I’ve heard one of our daughters make was that she was particularly inspired to pray after coming down the stairs in the quiet of early mornings to see her parents in prayer before the Lord. If we are going to teach it, we must actually do it.

Even babies sitting in a high chair can learn prayer as a parent clasps little hands in theirs to pray over the meal. Taking turns having family members pray at the table, at night before bed, or before having a time of family home group is an easy way to initiate kids in praying out loud. When our children were old enough to read and write, we commissioned them to have personal prayer, time in the Word, and journal time (listening to the voice of God) first thing in the morning. Sometimes it worked better for a child to have that time in the privacy of their bedroom right after waking, and others wanted their “God time” after breakfast in a comfortable chair in the living room. Either way, we established the daily habit of personal prayer for our kids at around age five. Years ago, after reminding my youngest daughter to have her God time, she said to me, “Mom, you don’t need to remind me anymore. It’s in me.” What a delight to know the habit of prayer was instilled.

In addition to prayer we have encouraged our children to practice what we call decrees or proclamations in agreement with the Scriptures. Often, they will begin their prayer time with praying a scripture such as, “Now to Him who is able to keep me from stumbling and present me faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24). They may also decree something specific to a particular need.

When one of our daughters (we have one son and five daughters) lamented that she didn’t have many good friends, we sat her down to pray about it together. Then we encouraged her to begin to daily decree, “God is bringing me good, godly friends.” It was short and simple and also effective. Literally within weeks, one girl moved into our city and started attending our church, another girl who had been more of a distant acquaintance to our daughter expressed interest in befriending her, and a third moved into our neighborhood. Suddenly, our daughter had three new friends!

Our son greatly desired a godly wife and began to pray and decree, “The Lord is sending me my wife who loves God and is saving herself for me.” About a year later our son met and married a lovely woman of God, who did save herself for him, and they have three beautiful children together.

Teaching our children to fast is also important. It can begin with fasting things like ice cream, chocolate, or a movie when younger and progress to a lifestyle of fasting. One of our daughters fasted movies for a year at age sixteen. That was a challenge, but she came out of that year a woman of great passion for Jesus, which has never abated to this day.

The Lord impressed on me years ago that in addition to love, one of the greatest things I can do for my children is pray for them and teach them to pray. This leaves a legacy of walking with and talking to the Spirit, which is essential to abiding in Christ and bearing fruit in all areas of life. Our children, to this day, are actively involved in pursuing a life in Christ, most within the prayer movement.

Summer camps at IHOPKC are a dynamic and fun way to help children encounter Jesus and walk in His power and love. Give your child the opportunity to experience God in a unique way this summer, bonding with peers and counselors who love the Lord. Learn more and register at

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Patricia Bootsma


  • Sr. Associate Pastor, Catch the Fire Toronto

Patricia Bootsma and her husband, John, are the senior leaders of Catch the Fire Canada. Patricia has been leading houses of prayer for over fifteen years and has a heart for all to walk in passionate love for the Lord and in the fullness of His destiny for them. Patricia is the author of three books: Convergence, Raising Burning Hearts, and A Lifestyle of Divine Encounters. She and John are parents (of six amazing children) as well as grandparents.

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