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What Is Prayer?

Too often children think of prayer as a list of requests that we present to God, almost as if God was a genie in a bottle waiting to grant our wishes. Instead, make sure children know the following truths about prayer.

  • Prayer is talking with God.
  • There are many things that we can tell God in our prayers. We can give thanks for what God has made, done, or given to us. We can recognize the greatness of God. We can confess our sins. We can ask Him for what others need. We can ask Him for what we need.
  • God always answers our prayers. Sometimes the answer is yes; sometimes it is no; sometimes it is wait.
  • When you pray, don’t just talk. Sit quietly and listen for what God wants to say to you.

Ways to teach these concepts:

Concept
Prayer is talking with God.

Teach
Put children in small groups and give them a topic such as their favorite candy or favorite holiday. Ask them to talk to each other about the topic. If you have a quiet group of children, you might ask them to tell each other the answer to a specific question. (Tell the group the name of your favorite holiday and why you like it.). Once all children have shared with each other, ask them to tell God the answer to their question. At first, this will seem a big awkward, but encourage them to say their answer aloud. “God, Christmas is my favorite holiday because we put up a Christmas tree.” You might even have children face away from each other, so they can’t see anyone when they share their answer with God. Once they have told God the answer to the question aloud, have them answer another question with a whisper. Finally, have them tell God the answer to a third question silently. Once you are finished, share with the children that we can talk to God about anything. We can also talk to God loudly, quietly, or silently.

Concept
There are many things that we can tell God in our prayers. We can recognize the greatness of God. We can confess our sins. We can give thanks for what God has made, done, or given to us. We can ask him for what others need. We can ask him for what we need.

Teach
On the top of large piece of paper, list the following words: Who God Is, Thanks, I’m Sorry, Others, Me. Under each word, brainstorm a list of words to include. For “others” and “myself” allow children to share requests.

Who God Is

Thanks I’m Sorry Others

Myself

Creator

My home

Hitting Sick Grandma

Help with math

Kind

My family Disobeying Lost puppy

Hurt finger

Smart Food Telling a lie Lonely friend

Scared of dark

Then, teach children to say sentence prayers using one of the words. For example, “God, I know you are my Creator” or “God, thank you for my home.” As students become comfortable with single sentence prayers, teach them to pray “paragraph” prayers using one word from each column. (Be sure children choose words that apply to their lives.)

Paragraph Prayer: “God, I know that you are kind. Thank you for giving me my family. I’m sorry for hitting my sister. Please help my grandma to feel better. Also, please help me to learn my spelling words these this week.”

Concept
God always answers our prayers. Sometimes the answers is yes; sometimes it is no; sometimes it is wait.

Teach
Make a teaching visual that shows a traffic light. Ask children to tell you what drivers should do when the traffic light is red, yellow, and green. Explain that God’s answers to our prayers are like the traffic light. Sometimes God says yes to our prayers (green). Sometimes God says no to our prayers (red). Sometimes God tells us to wait awhile (yellow.) Share an example from your own life when God said yes, no, and wait to your prayers.

*Idea from Spiritual Formation Prayer Curriculum by Daryl Dale.

Concept
When you pray, don’t just talk. Sit quietly and listen for what God wants to say to you.

Teach
It can be very difficult for children to understand that prayer is also listening to God. You can add “listening” times to your service. One idea is to give each child a piece of paper and some crayons. Begin by praying aloud and ask God to speak to each child. Then, play a quiet worship song and ask children to listen for God to speak to their mind. When they have heard from God, they should draw a picture of what God said to them. It is amazing to see what children hear from God.

Children may express an inability to hear God speaking. Explain that sometimes God doesn’t speak directly to us. He also speaks through the Bible. Have a Bible verse written on a piece of paper that children can color if they don’t hear something specific from God.

*Thanks to Kerry Bevel for the activity.

 

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