If you want to pray for your children, don't get too hung up on form - just do it.

A prayer could be little more than a hopeful thought directed vaguely in the direction of heaven or it can be a ritual performed by ordained priests using sacred oil or holy water while using formal language. God hears it all.

If you want to pray, you may wish to follow these simple steps.

1. Call upon God

Use the language of your particular faith to address deity. By addressing deity in some way, as with the common Christian nomenclature, Heavenly Father, you - perhaps more than God - recognize the beginning of the prayer.

2. Thank God

Now that you have invoked the name of God, it may be wise to express gratitude. Even if you approach God in a crisis and desperately wish to invoke a blessing upon your child, it may be good form to note your appreciation for having the child in the first place.

3. Ask God

You've decided to pray for your child for a reason. Don't be shy. Certainly God knows the secret desire of your heart. Humbling yourself enough to ask God for the blessing you seek on behalf of your child demonstrates your faith.

4. Close

Many Christians choose to end a prayer with a reference to Christ, who is viewed as an intermediary with the Father. A simple "amen" may serve as a signal that your prayer has concluded.

As you pray, it may help to visualize the God whom you address. Think of this almighty being as someone who cares about you personally. Just imagining the appearance of God will make the experience more real for you.

If you are desperate - and desperation is often the seed of faith that leads to prayer - many religions believe that physically indicating humility by kneeling or prostrating yourself on the ground serves as an expression of faith.

Praying in private ensures that you are praying to God and not for the sake of a mortal audience. While we've all heard beautiful prayers recited and have been inspired by them, your prayer for your child is burning in your heart. Don't focus on finding the flowery words to express your prayer, instead give voice to your real, honest thoughts and feelings.

Praying aloud, despite the fact that any omnipotent God knows what you're thinking, can serve again as a way to humble yourself as an expression of faith in the omnipotence of God and the heavenly ability to bless your child.

Don't worry that you may do it or have done it wrong. If you have expressed your honest thoughts and desires on behalf of your child, your prayer was heard. Prayers are answered, too. Listen, watch and ponder. Be open to the impressions that come to your mind as you do so. Though God could appear to you and tell you exactly what he's thinking, it seems more likely that an answer might simply be felt as peace in your heart or a strikingly clear thought placed in your mind.

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