3 creative ways to encourage kids in your class to pray even more.
Prayer is an incredible privilege because it’s communication with the living God! Yet we often struggle with new ways to get children involved in prayer that’s heartfelt and meaningful. Do your kids have the prayer doldrums? Would you like to help children renew their excitement about communication with God? Check out the following ideas and resources to invite children into conversation with God.
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Adopt-a-Leader First Timothy 2:1-4 urges “prayers…for everyone — for kings and all those in authority.” So consider praying all year for one leader, such as a government leader, a spiritual leader, or a community leader. Write or tell the person of your kids’ commitment. Pray faithfully and send notes, cards, or cookies monthly to let the person know you’re still praying.
Several years ago I watched a group of children meet their adopted leader, Michigan’s governor. The room buzzed with excitement. One little boy edged closer to the governor and got his full attention. This small child said with incredible conviction, “We pray for you every day, and God answers prayer.” The child’s love poured out in a spontaneous hug that all the children joined. The security officers standing by didn’t know how to handle an attacking “knee hug”!
Use the acronym P.R.A.Y. as a model for prayer:
P.R.A.Y. wristbands are even available through the National Day of Prayer Task Force (www.nationaldayofprayer.org) with a card attached to explain the acronym.
2. Light of the World
Jesus said in Matthew 5:14-16: “You are the light of the world…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
A lighthouse keeps ships from crashing into rocky cliffs during fog. A lighthouse shines the way to give people direction.
Discuss how the children are lighthouses in their neighborhoods and schools. Help children see the importance of their fervent prayer in the place God has placed them to be a light. Lighthouse resources are available through the Mission America Coalition at www.missionamerica.org; (760) 200-2707.
3. Prayer Journey
Take children on an exciting prayer journey. Set up five to 10 prayer stations around your church. Our focus has been prayer for those who serve our community, so we invite people from the community. Last year, our mayor, police chief, assistant fire chief, Salvation Army director, and rescue mission director were some of the people who were at different stations.
Form groups of 10. Give each child a Prayer Passport with suggested prayers for each station. Have groups spend 10 minutes at each station, stamp their passports, and then move to the next station.
Susan Sorensen is a freelance writer in Westlake, Ohio.
4. Prayer-Driven Kids
Blue eyes peered out from beneath the bill of a painter’s cap. Twyla moved like a hummingbird from person to person, stopping to place her hand on a shoulder, bow her head, and whisper a prayer of blessing, of comfort, or of healing. When she finished, she’d give the adult a quick pat on the forearm for encouragement and move on to the next person. Twyla was only 8 years old.
I wanted what Twyla had for the kids in our ministry. I wanted what she had for myself. That fall, our children’s ministry began its transformation.
It Started With Me. The first thing I had to come to terms with was my own prayerlessness. Did I truly believe in prayer? I determined that, in all honesty, I really hadn’t experienced the power of prayer, but I wanted to. That decision propelled my prayer life. As I learned from faithful people such as Henri Nouwen, Brother Lawrence, Dutch Sheets, and people in my church, I developed a greater admiration for this vehicle that delivered my heart into the hands of God.
It Spread to Our Team. At our annual volunteer luncheon, our children’s ministry volunteers walked into an “explosive” situation decorated with reds and golds. Our centerpieces were stacks of giant, red construction paper firecrackers with metallic tinsel spraying from the ends. Each firecracker had a PrayKids magazine, a “Let Us Pray” lapel pin, a handful of Red Hots candies, and a laminated copy of our children’s ministry prayer card.
I shared my vision for allowing our kids to pray, and we agreed to intentionally allow more times and situations for the kids to pray. After that commitment, we were able to focus on ways to equip kids to pray.
After our event, I approached a few people who have a heart for prayer. I asked these folks to be my Children’s Ministry Prayer Leadership Team. They agreed to identify and implement new praying ideas and processes as well as evaluate and maintain a prayer focus throughout our ministry.
The Kids Got It. We implemented prayer tools right away. A mom created a blanket made with all the countries of the world on one side and many different-colored hands on the other side. When children pray for a specific country, they touch the country. Or when we have children pray for another child in the room, they drape the blanket over the child and lay their hands on top of the hands on the fabric.
In our elementary room, we started a Kids’ Prayer Team. The Kids’ Prayer Team receives a list of prayer needs of the children’s ministry volunteers every two weeks and prays for those needs. This prayer activity brought our volunteers and kids closer while funneling more of God’s involvement into their lives.
Meanwhile, the Children’s Ministry Prayer Leadership Team was busy helping the teachers incorporate new prayer activities into their classrooms, evaluating new programs, and creating new ideas. Based on Prayer Point Press’ “Keys to the Kingdom: Prayers for my Children” cards (www.renewalministries.com), we created prayer cards each week for the babies and toddlers in our nursery. We pray the verse from the card over each child, place a sticker that reads, “I was prayed for” on each child’s back, and give the card to the parents when they come to pick up their child. This process gets our volunteers praying, blesses the child, and encourages the parents.
Throughout this adventure, I’ve been witness to many amazing moments. A military surgeon came as a guest speaker, and our kids gathered around her and prayed for her and the soldiers overseas just weeks before the war with Iraq began. And I’ve walked down the halls of our ministry dozens of times to see classroom after classroom full of children of all ages praying for their relatives, their world, and themselves. God is definitely answering my prayer to have prayer-driven kids.
Scott Whaley Las Vegas, Nevada