Can we help you pray? Through this article we share with you some fun and lovely prayer ideas that you can do with your family!
Following on from the Releasing Children to Pray article, we talked about how prayer is the bedrock of our spiritual journey and being able to see children engage is a shared desire for us as parents and ministry leaders. We will now go through some ways we can support and go through that journey with them, together alone family.
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Help the children spend time in repentance. Begin by explaining that we all do things that are wrong and they make God and other people sad. Sometimes the wrong things we do are deliberate - we want to try and make someone sad, or hurt them. Sometimes we do things by accident - we weren’t careful or thoughtful. These things can still make other people sad.
God wants us to love each other, and so we need to say sorry to God and sorry to others. BUT the great news is God promises to forgive us. In fact, when we say sorry he says he will take our bad mistakes and throw them as far away as the east is from the west (ie. God will never see them again!).
Invite the children to write on a piece of paper anything that they have done wrong, both to God or to other people. These notes should be private. Once they have written them ask everyone to be quiet and to spend time saying sorry to God.
If you have an outdoor space and can safely light a small, contained fire then you could ask the children to bring their paper to burn on the fire (at all times this activity should be heavily supervised and the safety of the children paramount). Alternatively you could use a shredder to destroy the list of their sins. End by thanking God for his forgiveness.
Provide children with cameras, or pens and paper. If you have a safe outdoor space you can go to take the children. Invite them to photograph or draw things they can see that they are thankful for. You could even encourage them to continue this prayerful activity through the week, documenting all the things they see that they are thankful to God for.
Take time to listen to everyone say things they are thankful for, sharing pictures or photographs. Maybe over the coming week you could find space in your room to print off some photos and pin up some drawings and create a ‘Thankful Wall’.
Don’t end this activity by closing your eyes and praying. This whole activity has been about praying. It is about opening our eyes to God being all around us and the more we help children see their prayer life as a living breathing relationship with God the deeper their faith will grow.
God wants us to ask him for things, Matthew 7.7 invites us to ‘Ask and it will be given to you’. Place 8 large sheets of paper around the room with the following headings on each one.
Our church leaders
Sick or sad people
Our leaders and country
Give the children a pen each and invite them to travel around the room writing their prayers for each topic. At the end ask children to read some things out from the paper they are standing by, and after each one ask everyone to say Amen (remind them that this just means, I agree!).
A simple way for children to hear God’s voice is to put themself into a biblical story. Invite the children to find a comfortable place to sit whilst they listen to you telling them a parable, or one of Jesus’s miracles, or any other biblical story. Ask them to use their imaginations, to think about what it would have felt like to stand next to Jesus while this is happening. Encourage them to think about the smells, and the sounds and what they can see as they imagine themselves in the story. At the end of the story, let the children sit quietly and imagine what Jesus is saying to them right now.
This activity might seem strange to you, but as you begin to use this language of Jesus speaking to us, you will be able to further encourage the children to hear what God might be saying to them in school or at home. Recognising the quiet gentle prompting of God’s voice is a beautiful gift.
Many church traditions follow Paul and Timothy’s example of ‘laying on of hands’ when praying. This is simply placing your hands on the person you are praying for. Nothing magical happens in this activity, but it does symbolise solidarity, connection and encouragement between the person praying and the person being prayed for.
To help the children become familiar with this way of praying ask everyone to sit in a circle. Encourage the children to reach out and put their hands on the shoulder of the person to their right. Then all together you are going to pray for the person you are laying hands on. This way all the children should be praying and being prayed for.
As the children become more at ease with this way of praying, you can introduce times where children can pray in small groups of three or four. They each can have one minute telling each other what they would like prayer for (healing, forgiveness, request, empowering etc) then the other children can lay hands on the child and pray together. Repeat until everyone has had a turn.
A gentle caveat to this activity: Some children won’t want to be touched. It is always good for us to ask each other permission, and we should honour those who don’t want to lay on hands. Even encouraging children to reach out their hands toward the person they are praying for is still a form of connection and encouragement.
Many church traditions use liturgy as an important way to connect with God. Your church might already invite children to join in with these communally read prayers, if so you might want to access some prayers that you use as a church.
Alternatively, you can write your own prayers or use this simple one below. Either way, liturgy is simple, clear prayers that declare who God is. They are best used frequently so each person can familiarise themselves with the words and form habits in our prayer life. Encourage the children to say the words in bold, whilst a leader, or child leader says the other words.
Lord God you made everything! You made everything good.
We worship you and praise you. We worship you today.
Help us listen to your voice. And help us obey you.
Oh great God, We praise you!
Give the children a sheet of A4 paper and a pen. Each child should spend a moment reflecting on who God is. Then write down their prayer, including ‘thankful’ prayers, ‘sorry’ prayers and ‘please’ prayers.
When they have finished, invite them to fold their paper into a paper airplane. All children should then stand around the room and together launch their prayers to the other side of the room. Each child should pick up an airplane and open it to read the prayer. Spend a minute in silence praying for the person whose airplane it was. Then fold it up and launch them again and pick up another airplane to pray for.
We are all familiar with the Lord’s Prayer, but children may not understand it. Take a line at a time and ask them what it means. Then think of a simple action for each line. Build up the prayer until the children know all the actions. Use this timeless prayer regularly when you are praying with the children. Remind them that when we pray this prayer, we are joining with millions of Christians who pray this all over the world and for the past 2000 years.
Our Father in Heaven, (point up to heaven)
Hallowed be Your name (lift two fingers from your right hand to your forehead, which is the sign language for ‘name’)
Your kingdom come (use hands like a crown on your head)
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (draw a round circle in the air with your hands to signify the earth)
Give us today our daily bread (bring hands up to your mouth like you are feeding yourself)
And forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us (hold arms in front of face in a cross shape)
Lead us not into temptation (point finger as though telling someone off)
But deliver us from evil (hold hands up like lion claws)
For yours is the Kingdom (use hands like a crown)
The Power (raise arms to show your muscles)
And the glory, forever and ever (raise hands as in worship)
On nine separate pieces of paper write the different Fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control). Place them around the room and give each child a pen. Explain to them that the Holy Spirit wants to fill us with each one of these fruit. Play some prayerful music in the background and give the children time to walk around each sheet of paper thinking of specific situations where they need these fruit. For example, they might find it difficult to love someone at school, so on the sheet with LOVE at the top they can write the name of this person. Or perhaps they find it difficult being patient on a car journey, so on the sheet that says PATIENCE they can write down ‘car journey’.
Each time, invite them to commit these things to God and ask for a fresh filling up of the Holy Spirit.
Ask the children to name emotions that they feel. As they tell you them, write each one on a different sheet of paper. Explain to the children that we can all feel these emotions and God wants us to pray to him as we experience each one of these feelings.
Place the sheets of paper around the room and leave an ink pad in the centre of the room. Invite each child to press their thumb into the ink and during the next few minutes to walk around the room pressing their thumb against the different emotions that are written on the paper. Encourage them to remember times when they have felt…happy, sad, embarrassed, lonely, sorry etc and to use this as a time to commit themselves to God in the complexity of their emotional journey.
Remind them at the end that God loves it when we talk to him and tell him how we feel. But he also wants to heal our hearts. We should remember that we can always find God in these emotions.
Encourage the children to find a space in the room that they can move freely without banging into someone. Explain that we are going to try a different kind of praying today. You will give them an instruction and they need to move their body. As they begin to move, you will tell them a different thing to pray about. Use the feelings of their physical body to help them spiritually talk to God.
Do 10 burpees by lying face down on the floor, jumping into a squat position and then jumping high in the air. As you do this thank God for your amazing body and all the other great things he gives you.
Close your eyes and gently rub your forehead with your fingertips. As you do this thank God that he loves you and cares for you.
Press your palms together applying a lot of pressure. Think of the times when you have to be patient and ask God to help you in these times.
Lie down and relax. Let your muscles relax. Ask God to show you his peace. (Wait for a minute or two in this position.)
Curl up in a little ball. Ask God to help you love other people and care for them well. Think of some of your friends and ask God to help you be a good friend to them.
The Chinese church has a wonderful reputation for giving freedom to everyone to pray out loud during prayer gatherings. They are known to use these times to pray and call out to God together. On first reflection this might seem rowdy and disorganised, but it can actually be a freeing opportunity to pray from the heart without anyone listening or judging.
Think about what you want the children to pray for – perhaps intercession or healing. Invite them to stand in a circle. Tell them that you are going to count to 5 and then you want everyone to pray together, shouting their prayers, closing their eyes, focusing on God and asking him to come and hear us.
As you start introducing this method of prayer you may be faced with an awkward silence after a few seconds. Encourage your leaders to lead by example. Even if you only pray for 20-30 seconds at a time this is a great start. As the group becomes quieter be prepared to say a loud prayer to wrap it up!
At the start of a new term or year present each child with an exercise book to draw or write their prayers in. These books can be taken home to continue their prayer diaries or can be kept at church and used week in week out.
Encourage the children to think about different ways to express their prayers. Perhaps for weeks when you want then to say prayers of repentance you can provide them with black paint to paint over their ‘sorry’ prayers after they have written them in their book.
Some weeks you could take them outside to pick flowers or leaves as thanks to God for his wonderful creation. The children can come and stick these in their prayer journals.
Other times you might want to provide them with envelopes to write their intimate prayers in and stick these in their prayer diaries.
Children should see these prayer diaries as a gateway to talking to God, but also a reminder to them of God’s faithfulness over a long time. Invite the children to look back through their prayer diaries regularly to remind themselves of answered prayers!
It is good to be a prayerful presence in our community. Prayer walking can often be a way to meet God in his world. To prayerfully ask God where he is already at work in our town and community is a fabulous way to join him in his mission to reach the world.
Print off a simple map of the areas surrounding your church. Explain to the children that you are going to prayer walk. Praying is often us sitting quietly in church with our eyes closed but this time we are going to go into the street and walk around. Ask God to show you things in the town, people, buildings, signs etc that he cares about. What is God saying to us about our town?
As you walk safely around the area you live, encourage the children to ‘bless’ God’s work by praying that He would show them his love, joy and peace.
Ask the children what they noticed about their community? What is God saying about their community? And should they do anything about it?
Intercession means standing in the gap as we pray. Christians often use this term when they are talking about praying for another country.
Use an unravelled roll of toilet paper to draw a giant map of a country that you want to pray for. Perhaps it is a country that your church already supports or a country that has been in the news a lot recently. Mark the outline of the country on the floor with the toilet paper. Make it as big as your room can allow. You may want to tape it down in a few places, but largely the children should get the idea!
Invite them to stand over the map, show them where the north is, and where the south is. Show them where any landmarks or cities are. (You could even write these on a sheet of paper and place them in the right geographical locations.)
Spend some time praying for the people in this country. You could ask a few children to do some research before the session on specific prayer request. These could include things like praying for the leaders, praying for the poor, praying for the Christians etc.
Praying regularly for the same country can give children a lifelong heart for a place. Instil in them a missionary love and a prayerful posturing toward another country.
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© Copyright 2022 WonderBorn Media Group Ltd. All rights reserved.