When Children Pray

“When Children Pray,” Ensign, Mar. 1986, 40

When Children Pray

I am certain that throughout the Church there are countless families with young children who are discovering what I finally learned when my children were younger. With four sons of my own, each displaying very different personalities, I had seen a natural affinity of the very young for gospel truths, particularly for the principle of prayer. Their complete trust that their Heavenly Father hears and acknowledges simple requests had, on several occasions, brought tears to my eyes. To a child, Heavenly Father is never too busy to listen.

One night my husband and I bounded up the stairs after our two-year-old sounded the alarm. He had awakened from a nightmare and was crying for help. After we quieted him, his five-year-old brother very matter-of-factly said, “Say a prayer, Peter.”

“Heavenly Father,” began this little cherub, “take away my bad dream. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” (Our Peter was fond of very short prayers.)

There was a moment of waiting, and then a triumphant announcement: “Heavenly Father did!” He promptly got back into bed and slept peacefully the rest of the night.

During a time of sickness in our family, our son David requested a blessing when an earache was giving him much pain. As his father placed his hands on this boy and began the blessing, we could hear muffled sobs from our oldest, who lay in the top bunk. Afterward we questioned him.

“What do you think, Seth?”

“I think I want one, too,” he said, as he choked back the tears. His sweet faith prompted a father’s blessing and afforded us an unforgettable moment.

Not only do children display great faith in prayer, but they make requests in their prayers which show they are seriously thinking of gospel subjects. For instance, my oldest, while asking a blessing on the food, once asked “that the priesthood could be held.”

“That’s an interesting request you just made,” I said. “Why did you pray that the priesthood might be held?”

“Because I love my dad, and he holds the priesthood. And also because I want to be a priesthood man in the Church.”

It is not difficult to understand why the Savior loves little children and why he has asked us to become as a little child. In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord admonishes parents in Zion to “teach their children to pray.” (D&C 68:28.) What great lessons in faith could be learned if parents throughout the world would hear and obey that counsel.

  • Carolyn S. Manwaring serves as Spiritual Living teacher and ward choir director in the Arlington Heights Second Ward, Schaumburg Illinois Stake.