Involving Kids in the 21 Days of Prayer
For more than fifteen years, the Church of God of Prophecy has started each new year with 21 days of prayer and fasting. This season of seeking provides us with an opportunity to join our global family in pursuing God’s voice personally and corporately. This 21 Days of Prayer gives us a wonderful opportunity to teach kids to pray and give them opportunities to grow in their prayer life. We can intentionally include children in this season of seeking—both at home and in our local churches.
So, how do we teach children to pray?
One way is to give them a pattern for prayer, such as the Lord’s Prayer. The disciples said to Jesus, “teach us to pray,” in Luke 11:1–4. And the Lord’s Prayer provides an excellent pattern for children to follow as they learn to pray.
The Lord’s Prayer begins with PRAISE when is says, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” What should children praise God for? Psalm 150:2 reminds us to praise Him for what He does and for who He is. “Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness” Psalm 150:2.
Secondly, the Lord’s Prayer leads us to YIELD to the Father’s will, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” As Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane he yielded to His Father’s will. “Yet not as I will, but as you will“ Matthew 26:39. Prayer is yielding our will to His.
Thirdly, we ASK the Lord to meet our needs, as well as others, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Philippians 4:6. Reminds us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
After we ask, the Lord’s Prayer leads us to CONFESSION, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” Confession is an important part of prayer. As children learn to confess their sins in prayer, their hearts will be moldable to the Father’s will and His wisdom. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”
Finally, the Lord’s Prayer directs us to pray for PROTECTION, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” Because Jesus has experienced every temptation that our children will experience, they can go to him for help, to protect them from evil. Hebrews 4 reminds us, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
One of the activities we encourage in International Children’s Ministries is providing children with a visual of this prayer pattern using simple chain of paper strips.
Each strip stands for a different piece of the pattern. The yellow stands for praise, the purple for yield, the brown for ask, the white confess, the red for protection, and we come back to yellow so we end in praise.
So when doing this with your children at home or at church, you can simply point to a color of the chain and invite kids to give an appropriate response. Children might also use the chain as their guide in their personal prayer times.
Another great pattern for prayer for kids, is the Five Finger Prayer. The Five Finger Prayer is a simple, visual, and fun way to teach kids what to pray for, as well as a reminder that prayer is simply a conversation with God just like a conversation with a friend. Each finger on a hand represents a person(s) to pray for. Our hands and fingers are always right there with us making this a great way to teach children to remember to pray all the time. Whenever they look down at their hands, they can remember to pray for these five different kinds of people in their life.
- The thumb is the closest finger to our heart. So it reminds us to pray for those closest to you, closest to your heart, your loved ones. Just like our teachers and instructors use their pointer finger to show us things, so we can use that same finger to remember to pray for them!
- The pointer finger reminds us to pray for those who instruct/teach you, the people who point the way.
- Our middle finger, the tallest finger, reminds us to pray for those who lead us, such as government officials, or even their boss when kids grow up and get a job.
- The ring finger is known to be the weakest finger. Try to open a drawer handle with it, and it will be noticeably weaker than all the other fingers. This finger should remind kids to pray for those they know who are sick, hurt, in trouble.
- The last and smallest finger of the Five Finger Prayer should remind us that we need to pray for ourselves too.
In addition to the prayer pattern, we can also offer children opportunities to pray.
- Form a circle. Each person prays one sentence in turn to praise and thank God or to pray for a circumstance or individual.
- Let each child pair up with a family member or friend and share their prayer needs and then pray for one another. For some kids this close circle is the best format for sharing their most personal needs.
- Create a prayer list for your family or ministry. Post the list where the children can see it and pray for the needs each time you pray together. You might also record answers to each prayer and take time to thank and praise God for those prayers He has answered.
- Take your kids on a walk around your church, a school, a neighborhood, a government building, a hospital, etc. Prior to prayer walking discuss with the children what the needs of those people might be so that they pray specific prayers as they walk.
There are also many great resources available to help us facilitate prayer opportunities for kids:
- Prayer Covenant for Children
- Everyhome.org offers a downloadable World Prayer Map for Kids
- TeachSundaySchool.com offers a downloadable set of 31 Prayers Cards for Kids
Remember, we do not have to make prayer difficult for kids. Prayer is simply communication with God. That involves both talking and listening. Children’s prayers do not have to be “perfect”. Instead, we should help children learn to pray consistently, with trust that God hears and will answer. We should help children learn to pray intimately as a child talks with his Father.
We hope some of these ideas have been helpful to you! Links to these resources can be found in the comments section of this Facebook Live, as well as on our website www.cogop.org/children. For more information about the Church of God of Prophecy’s21 Days of Pray, please visit cogop.org.