One of the biggest questions I get asked about prayer is “How do I teach my kids to pray?” As we learn the importance of prayer in our own lives, it’s only natural to want to impart that to our kids, too.

And I truly believe teaching our kids to pray is just as important as praying for them ourselves.

What’s the phrase?

“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

We’ll always lift our kids up to the Lord in prayer, but what greater gift could there be than to teach them how to go directly to their Heavenly Father? To show them the direct access they have to their Great Sustainer? And isn’t that what we long for our children to do? To know God in a real, personal way— to develop a faith that isn’t just their parents’ faith but their own.

When we teach our children to pray, we open them up to possibilities in their lives that are only limited to what our gracious Father is willing to bestow on them.

Before I dive into specific tips on how to teach our kids to pray, I think it is important to lay out that it won’t be easy and it won’t come naturally to many of us. School and activities and everyday responsibilities are vying for our attention. There’s that sheer overwhelm of them asking questions that are bigger than we feel equipped to answer. But the investment we are making is far greater than we could ever imagine. So press on and remember why we want to teach them to pray in the first place.

Teaching our kids to pray is just as important as praying for them ourselves.

Okay, here are seven things that have helped me as I’ve taught my girls how to pray:

Start really simple.

Before you ask them to pray, ask them what they want you to pray for. You are involving them, showing them how to pray without being too intimidating. I started this with Vivi as soon as she could comprehend it. I cannot tell you how many prayers we prayed for teachers or my parents’ dog when she was starting out. We slowly expanded our prayers to include praise, character issues, sin, and the kids in Haiti we donate to.

Don’t push.

I’ve been asking Vana if she’d like to pray ever since she could string a few words together, and she has said no a lot. When she does, I don’t push. I just say, “Okay, I’ll pray.” On rare occasions I’ll say, “Are you sure?”—but without a condescending tone and just offering the opportunity. At some point, she started saying yes. She still says no sometimes, and that’s okay! They don’t roll their eyes when it’s time to pray, and I think that’s one of the most important things right now.

Explain things without expecting them to be implemented right away.

If we pray and the girls are really giggly or interrupting a lot, we’ll mention afterward that we want to be respectful of God when we pray. We may put a hand on them to stop moving during prayer, but we don’t stop the prayer to discuss it. We don’t want to set up the expectation that they must now understand and do it correctly for the remainder of the prayer.

Keep pointing back to God.

Recently, we prayed for a big meeting my husband had. As soon as he called after it was over, I told the girls the news. I made sure to include that it was God at work. I think it’s easy to talk about things without pointing out God’s role in it all, but it’s important our kids see God in everything. Even the things that look like a no.

Read materials on prayer to your kids.

There are books on prayer that can help you communicate prayer in a way kids can understand. Simply reading the Bible to our kids can also show them who we are praying to.

Allow them to catch glimpses of your prayers alone.

When a friend shared fond memories of seeing her parents in prayer when they didn’t know their daughter was looking, I made it a point to stop worrying about being wrapped up with my quiet time before my girls woke up. How sweet it is for our kids to witness our quiet faithfulness as we keep coming back to God.

Rely on the Holy Spirit.

Teaching our kids to pray can bring up so many questions we aren’t sure how to answer. That is completely normal and expected. Pray that the Holy Spirit will give you wisdom to respond, and look out for how He does that.