Encouraging Children to Pray - an Interview with Tricia Goyer

Author Tricia Goyer.
My children and I are halfway through Tricia Goyer's newest book, Prayers that Change History. We are loving it! This book for children and teens offers up stories about people throughout history who prayed and saw remarkable answers to those prayers. Not only does the book give strong examples for my children to follow, but it's lead to many great conversations about our own prayer lives and how we can strengthen them. What's not to love about that?

Recently, I emailed with Tricia about her book and about how she encourages her six children to grow their own prayer lives.

Kristina: What inspired you to write Prayers that Change History?

Tricia: I've been a homeschooling mom for many years, and one of my favorite things is reading about historical heroes. Through the years I was amazed by how many historical stories involved prayer. For example, did you know that three days before Christopher Columbus found land his crew revolted and wanted to turn around? Columbus prayed about it and felt impressed to ask for three more days. And it was on the third day that they found land. I started collecting these stories, and soon I knew it had to be a book! Yet I not only wanted to share these historical stories, but my goal also became to teach children how to pray themselves. That excites me!

Kristina: Me, too! One of the things I like about Prayers is that it includes discussion questions that have really helped my children look closely at how they can improve not just their prayer life, but their walk with God. Would you share your favorite historical story from the book?

Tricia: That's like trying to choose a favorite child! There are so many great ones, but today I've been thinking a lot about Florence Nightingale. As a young teenager Florence was praying and felt God's call. Her journal says, “On February 7th, 1837, God spoke to me and called me to his service.” She had no idea what that was, but she worried about doing it as a married woman so she even turned down a marriage proposal.

Years later she felt drawn to nursing, but it wasn't a suitable profession at the time. Nurses were known to be largely unskilled, uneducated and heavy drinkers. Her parents were horrified. Florence left London to serve in Russia with an army unit. She was horrified by how the injured were treated, especially because the main cause of deaths in the Army wasn't from wounds, but from infection. For the remainder of her life Florence worked to transform nursing practices. Even today those practices are followed it ever nurse today learns and recites the Nightingale Pledge.

I love that story because one young girl prayed for God to use her. She continued to pray over the years  for God to show her His call. Once she knew the call, she prayed for help and wisdom. Because of her prayers nursing practices were changed … and aren't we all thankful?!

Kristina: What an amazing example of how children and teens are important to God and can really make a difference if they are focused on him. Do you have an example of how prayer changed your personal history?

Tricia: Yes! In 1989 I was a pregnant teenager. My boyfriend was out of the picture. I had just rededicated my life to God, and I knew I wanted to have a different life. I wanted to go a different direction than the one I'd been going. I started praying. I prayed for a future husband—someone who would love me and my son. I thought it would take years for my prayers to be answered but God answered right away. I started dating the pastor's son after my son was born and we were married when Cory was 9 months old. We've been married for twenty-five years and we have six children and we're in the process of adopting four more. I was praying for a father to my son, and God had exceedingly more than I asked for or imagined. I love how God does that. And that is just one story of answered prayer. God has done so much more!


How do you encourage the prayer life of your six children?

Tricia: We pray together as a family every night before bed. We started with the youngest and go to the oldest. John and I pray for each child by name. Also, in the mornings John and I have quiet time together before he goes to work. The kids see us reading our Bible and praying together. This time is special to us, but we also feel it's an important example for the kids to see. Kids model what they see. 

Kristina: So you and your husband lead by example. Can you give us more insight into how this works?

Tricia: For my family, we try to pray throughout the day. We pray when we see an accident on the road. We pray when we are having bad attitudes (both the kids and I). We pray over our meals. We pray about many things. By modeling prayer we can teach that prayer changes everything.

It's also important to read stories about people who have prayed. Biographies of Christian missionaries and Bible stories are important. When we see how God answers other people's prayers then we have faith that He will answer our prayers, too!

Of course prayer isn't just about asking for things. We also pray prayers of thanksgiving. My kids keep gratitude journals and every few days we write down a one-sentence prayer of something we're thankful for.

Kristina: Thank you, Tricia, for sharing with us. And thanks for your encouraging new book!

Prayers that Changed History is available from Amazon for $9.83 (paperback) or $7.99 (Kindle).

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