Using the Psalms for children is a beautiful way to introduce them to the Bible. Similarly, praying scripture over your kid is a great way to talk to God.
The Psalms are included in the poetry section of the Hebrew scriptures and they have a unique ability to heighten spiritual awareness and the emotional connection to God.
As a mom, I often found myself without the words to express my deep concern for my kids. While reading the Psalms found that the author knew exactly what to say. My Bible is marked with dates and names of who and what I was praying for at that moment.
From worries about my children’s safety to wisdom for direction when it came time for college, the words of the psalmist can bring hope and calm to everyone who reads them, including a child.
Why Psalms Are Great For Kids
Children may not be as eloquent, but they are able to appreciate the same beautiful language as adults. Personification of mountains clapping their hands or trees shouting for joy allows the young imagination of a child to soar.
After all, they are songs and poetry. David wrote many of the songs and we know he was a shepherd and young musician who loved and served God.
The Psalms are often short, yet powerful verses, making them a perfect teaching tool for children. They also make great prayers before sleep.
15 Best Psalms For Kids – And For Prayer and Memorization
1. Difficult Times
Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
This is one verse that should comfort anyone. A child may have had a difficult day at school or with friends. When we pray the psalms we are really placing ourselves in the place of the author.
For example, I would read this once as it is. Then I would read again and substitute a word “God you are my refuge and strength, you are my help in times of trouble”.
At this point tell God what you need strength for and how the trouble has happened or made you worried. That’s it. You’ve just prayed a psalm.
>>Also read: Salvation Prayer for Kids
It’s always a good idea to journal these prayers and thoughts when they happen. After a few days when time has probably helped soothe the hurt, be sure to look back and see how God helped with this problem or made you stronger. Then be thankful.
2. Show Me The Way
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
God’s word lights our way but we have to read it and learn it. In this chapter of Psalms, the longest chapter in the Bible, we are reminded of that.
A child, like anyone else, sometimes feels unable to decide which way to turn, what choice to make or how to make it. God promises in this verse that if we use his word, the Bible as our guide it will light the way.
When praying for a decision to make, pray this verse and share with them why it is hard to decide.
Look at the ten commandments. In them God shines a very bright light on right and wrong. Discuss together the way that it does this.
If your feet are taking you down a path that could lead to lying or stealing there’s the sign that you need to turn off going that direction. The right path would look more like telling the truth and sharing instead of lying or stealing.
God’s word clearly helps us stay the right path but we must remember to be reading it!
3. Be Quiet and Listen
Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
Sometimes we just need to be quiet. When we pray we are usually quiet but sometimes we talk too much. We talk and talk but don’t listen to God very much.
Then when we do listen we might not hear anything. That’s why we need to listen to God speaking through his word, the Bible.
If I were to pray this using my own words I would tell God “I will be still so that I can hear your voice. I will exalt You among the nations and in the whole earth”.
4. Overcoming Fear
Psalm 56:3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
We are all afraid at some point. Kids can be fearful of things they can’t even express and if they did parents often think it’s silly or not serious.
Be sure to take your kids fears seriously enough to at least address them without ridicule. Nothing will shut down open communication with a child faster than teasing or belittling.
This could be the kind of verse that you write out and post near the bed. I know I was afraid of the dark closet and things that might lurk under the bed. Over the years, kids haven’t changed so much (also read: Best (FREE) Typing Games For Kids).
5. Give Thanks To The Lord
Psalm 107:1-2 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from the hand of the adversary.
God is good all the time. His steadfast love is a major theme of the Psalms. But are you ready to tell others that you are redeemed?
If we are we should share. Redemption is a big word and may need a bit of clarification. So the Lord has redeemed us or bought us back from our adversary.
And who is our adversary? Satan.
At first glance it seems that David might be speaking of his enemies like the Philistines because he frequently is crying out to be saved from them or other groups like them. But on further reading, he is describing humanity in general.
We are rebellious against God. We dwell in darkness. We cry out and he saves us.
Have you ever redeemed anything? Saved something that was discarded? Discuss.
6. Importance of Family
Psalm 133 Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!
This is just one verse. But it expresses the idea that God is very pleased when family members get along or “dwell in unity”. It’s a great way to teach siblings and to share the importance of family.
There are several questions that can be asked. Does your family dwell in unity? All of the time? Most of the time? What sort of things make a family united?
What kind of things happen when brothers and sisters don’t get along? How can God’s word help everyone dwell in unity?
7. The Lord Is My Shepard
Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
David’s Psalm may be the most famous of the Psalms and the most memorized. It is important for parents to define some of the terms.
For example “I shall not want” means I shall not lack in the things that are necessary because the shepherd knows what I need and he provides for me. You can also explain that David was a shepherd and he knows how to take care of sheep.
He is describing God as his shepherd and telling God how wonderful it is that God cares for him. There are picture books for kids and adult commentaries regarding the meaning of this psalm which you may want to learn about together. This is wonderful as a night time prayer (also read: Fun Hand-Clapping Games For Kids).
Read together and have children illustrate it. Read together and substitute the child’s name for “me”.
8. His Steadfast Love Endures Forever
Psalm 136 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever; To him who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever; To him who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures forever; To him who spread out the earth above the waters, for his steadfast love endures forever; To him who made the great lights, for his steadfast love endures forever; ____________ for his steadfast love endures forever; ____________ for his steadfast love endures forever; etc...
This chapter has 26 verses. It is a psalm of thanksgiving and is repetitive. The reason it repeats is because the psalmist begins to recount all that God has done beginning with creation.
The people sing the song and are reminded over and over how good God has been. Sometimes we just need to do that. When we read this we can see the miracles done for the Jews by God through the ages.
I would challenge you to read it again with your children and instead of reading the Jew’s blessings insert your own, remembering all the things God has done for you.
Go ahead and begin with creation though because you are no doubt thankful for the heavens, the earth and the great lights!
9. Give Thanks to the Lord for He is Good
Psalm 118:8-24 8-9. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. … 22-24. The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord's doing and it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
This is another psalm of praise with these well-known verses in it. When a child faces disappointment they can be reminded that trusting in the Lord is the best.
Friends, family, adults, relatives are all imperfect and may disappoint. But God is perfectly good and he is trustworthy (verses 8 and 9).
Verse 22 is a prophetic verse and it’s wonderful for children to understand how it relates to Jesus. There are many of these that Jesus fulfilled and it’s never too early for kids to know about that.
Finally, more praise for the Lord’s marvelous works. Verse 24 is an old song and a new one. Can you sing it?
Ask questions. Is there anyone that you know of who you really don’t trust? Why? Are you a trustworthy person? Why? What is a cornerstone and why is it important when building?
Sing the song or find it and listen to it (also read: How To Teach The Trinity To Kids).
10. The Way of the Righteous and the Wicked
Psalm 1:1-6 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
Psalm 1 is the first chapter of 150 in the book of Psalms. And it begins by describing two kinds of people. Those who do things that God hates and those who do the things God loves.
In this chapter it is important to discuss the meaning of “counsel of the wicked” and scoffers. Also, how would you “delight in the law” or “meditate on it day and night”.
Remember this is poetry and flowery language is often used. We aren’t really trees and we don’t have fruit to eat, but the poet wants us to understand and uses this kind of language to help.
Think about how you would feel if you were the person counseling with the wicked, sinning and scoffing. Do you know what chaff is? If not look it up. How do you think a tree is different from chaff?
Now imagine you are delighting in the Lord and his word (law) and meditating (thinking about it) on it all the time.
Describe each of these types of people. Do you know anyone who might be one or the other?
11. My Soul Thirsts For You
Psalm 63:1-8 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, When I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; For you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
This is a Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah. David is so thankful to God. This chapter is full of David “soulful” descriptions. His soul thirsts as if he has no water; his soul is satisfied as with a great meal and his soul clings to God while God holds him up.
What do you think about your soul? How does it feel today? Does this psalm give any clues as to how to satisfy the longing of your soul?
12. David – A Psalm of Praise
Psalm 145:2-13 & 17-21 Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness. They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness. The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your saints shall bless you! They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, To make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 17. The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. The Lord preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy. My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.
Yes, this is definitely a song of praise. In my Bible I have circled v.19 and prayed it for my own children asking Him to fulfill the desire of my heart for them.
I listed the specific desire I had for them at the time. Because I called on him in truth and I drew near to him in prayer. Now two of those prayers were answered and I continue to bless the Lord because he is righteous and kind in all his works.
Verse 5 describes meditation on God’s glorious splendor, majesty and wondrous works. When you meditate or think about glorious splendor, majesty, and wondrous works of God what are some of the thoughts that come to your mind? Share examples or write them down.
13. Create In Me A Clean Heart, O God
Psalm 51 Have mercy on me, O God according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem; then will you delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.
This is a Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him. Psalm 51 is a psalm about repentance and forgiveness. David did some very bad things and when he finally admitted that he sinned he cried out to God and asked forgiveness.
This is a wonderful example of the way in which we are to say “I’m sorry” to God. David asked to be washed and cleansed.
He said his sin is “ever before me” which means that he must have been thinking about it all the time and had a guilty conscience. All of us have sinned. All of us need forgiveness.
Asking forgiveness is something you may want to do in private. But think about having a guilty conscience and what a relief it is when you have been forgiven.
Stop right now and think about something you have done you may need to talk to God about. Do you have a broken heart? God loves it when we come to him because he wants to create a clean heart and to renew a right spirit in us.
14. Bless The Lord, O My Soul Of David
Psalm 103 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children's children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments. The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all. Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will! Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul!
Do you wonder what “bless the Lord” means? Here it means to praise and worship God and mean it from our very soul. It means to admire and proclaim gratitude to him.
As you can read David wrote this and sang “Bless the Lord” often. Many times in this chapter and lots more in all the other psalms. See if you can find all the ways David is describing God.
I counted 24 just in this chapter. There may be more that I missed.
Count the ways that David describes God. Begin with “holy name” in the first verse. Can you find any conditions to these acts of God toward us? (Hint v.17&18)
15. Search Me, O God, and Know My Heart
Psalm 139 O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you. Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me! They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain. Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
Next to the Lord is my Shepherd, this has to be one of the most precious psalms written by David. It is a perfect one for name substitution and describes in detail how God knows absolutely everything about us from before we were born.
Search me O God and know my heart. Consider what this means and if we really want him to do it. What will He find? What do you think is meant by the way everlasting?
This would be the perfect chapter of psalms to read in a picture book. There are many available and most are beautifully illustrated.
My Parenting Journey
At one point of my parenting journey, I kept a journal with my psalm prayers for my children. In it I wrote an appropriate Psalm and inserted my child’s name.
I’m not sure there was anything in particular I was praying for but by that time they were away at college and it was one way I had of praying the psalms for them. This journal happened to be an accordion type and that was fun to do.
It’s wonderful to look at now, knowing that they arrived at adulthood safely and blessed.
Praying The Psalms With Kids
Some parents choose to pray the Psalms with their kids while others want to pray over their child. No matter your preference, the Psalms are a beautiful collection of Biblical chapters that praise God.
At night, children often require a few minutes to unwind before sleeping. It’s a great time to reflect on the day, read a book, and pray. It’s a chance to connect with your kids and to learn.
Teaching them the Psalms at bedtime can be done through singing, prayer, memorization, and thoughtful application. There’s no one method for teaching the Psalms so find a way to review the Psalms with your child and stick with it.
Whether your praying the Psalms for your kids or helping them learn Scripture, the Psalms are a powerful way to learn and praise God.
Within this article we touched on 15 Psalms. I shared many of my favorites, however, there are so many more to learn from. The best way to discover and teach the Psalms is to read the book yourself and take notes. Many chapters and verses will apply to you and your child’s life. Find ways to discuss the message and apply them in your life.