As religious educators we are always looking for prayer ideas and activities that involve movement and hand motions for our children to participate more fully in their faith. As Christians we are programmed to pray with our hands usually held together tightly. The five finger prayer method is a great way for children to literally pray with their hands and fingers.
You can pray this prayer together with your kids in class or have them pray it at home in their personal prayer time or with their families. Download the free printable handout at the bottom of this page to distribute to the students to use in class or to take home to their parents.
A Five Finger Prayer Guide
Assemble your students for prayer at their desks or around your class prayer table. Invite them to put their hands flat together in prayer. Use these words or a variation to guide children through the five finger prayer:
1. Thumb: Family and Friends
Your thumb is the finger that is closest to you. Start by praying for the people in your life who are closest to you. Pray for your family and friends. Pray for your parents, your grandparents, your sisters and your brothers, your aunts, uncles, cousins, and closest friends.
2. Index Finger: Teachers
The finger next to your thumb is the index finger. We use this finger for pointing. Pray for the people who point you in the right direction. Pray for your teachers, coaches, catechists, tutors, priests, and anyone else who teaches you.
3. Middle Finger: Leaders
Your middle finger is the tallest finger. For this finger we pray for the leaders of our country, our world, and our Church. Pray for the pope and his continued leadership of the Church. Pray for the leaders of our country to have the wisdom and judgment to lead us well.
4. Ring Finger: Sick and Poor
Our ring finger is our weakest finger. We can’t move it without the help of our other fingers. For this finger, pray for the sick who need help and healing. Pray for the poor and suffering who need God’s comfort and help too.
5. The Pinky Finger: You
Finally, for the smallest finger of all, pray for yourself. Jesus taught us to be humble so we pray for ourselves last with our pinkie finger. Place your greatest needs before God in prayer.
Five Finger Prayer Video
Five Finger Prayer Printable
This prayer method is so simple, the students should be able to do it on their own over time. Practice with them in class and invite them to lead the class using this method. Distribute this printable handout to your students to keep in their folders in class or to take home with them:
Teaching Students about Praying for Others
One of the best lessons that the 5 finger prayer method can teach us is that we should put others first. The pinkie finger is the smallest and last finger we use to pray and we use it as a reminder to pray for ourselves. When you are first introducing this activity, ask them which finger they think they will use to pray for themselves. Most will not guess that we use the smallest finger to think of ourselves. This is an important lesson for prayer. We tend to pray for ourselves and our needs more than we pray for others. This prayer is a reminder to pray for others first and ourselves last. Remember the words of Jesus:
“If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)