Kids Can Pray!
“It’s not a particular prayer we seek to give our littles ones, but rather a prayerful lifestyle, continually drawing nearer to the Lord from each ‘Dear Father’ to every ‘amen.’” ~ Susan Lingo, Teaching Our Children to Pray
One morning as I was praying by the sofa in our living room, I sensed that there was someone with me. I looked up to see my young son kneeling beside me. “Mommy, will you teach me how to do this?”
Jesus’ disciples made a similar request, “Lord, teach us to pray.” How did Jesus teach His disciples to pray?
- He taught them through example. Even though Jesus was the Son of God, He prayed often to His Heavenly Father.
- He taught them through instruction. The Lord’s Prayer and the story of the publican and Pharisee are examples of Jesus’ instruction regarding prayer.
- He taught them through experience. The disciples experienced the feeding of thousands, the raising of the dead and many other miracles as Jesus prayed.
- He taught them through hands-on learning. Jesus didn’t allow his disciples to be spectators when it came to prayer. He constantly provided opportunities for them to be committed to lives of prayer.
How will you teach each of the children in your ministry to become prayerful Christians?
- Teach by example.
- Teach through instructions. Build a strong biblical foundation for prayer by teaching the biblical truths related to prayer.
- Teach through experience. Continually expose the children to stories of answered prayer.
- Teach through involvement. Let your classroom be a laboratory for prayer. Don’t just talk about prayer. Instead, let the children pray!
IDEAS YOU CAN USE!
- Thank you booklet – Let the preschoolers help you prepare a booklet that encourages them to thank God for His gifts. Form a booklet from pieces of construction paper folded in half and stapled together. Print “Thank You, God” on the front. Let the preschoolers choose pictures of things for which they are thankful from magazines. Paste one on each page of the book. Let each child hold the booklet and give thanks fro each object.
- Prayer Wheel – Cut two 12” circles from poster board. Choose pictures to illustrate various people preschoolers might pray for such as parents, siblings, grandparents, and friends. Past these pictures at regular intervals on one of the circles. Cut an opening in the second circle large enough to shoe only one picture at a time. Fasten the second circle on top of the first with a paper fastener. Let the children take turns rotating the wheel to find the picture of the person they want to pray for.
- Echo Prayer – Create a simple prayer that cam be divided into short phrases. Develop a simple action for each phrase. Talk with the children about want an echo is. Ask them to repeat the prayer using the same words and actions. Here is an example:
Thank you for making birds. (Flap arms.)
Thank you for making fish. (Place hands together and let them “swim”.)
Thank you for making bunnies. (Hop in place.)
Thank you for making me! (Point to self.)
Creative Ways to Get Kids PRAYING!
- Write a letter to God -Share the simple format for writing a letter: greeting, body and closing. Compare this format with the Lord’s Prayer. Ask each child to write a letter to God then share these letters during prayer time.
- Sing a prayer to God – Make a list of songs the children sing. Working together, decide which songs are prayer songs. Discuss why each is a prayer song. Using a familiar tune, let the children work in small groups to compose a prayer song of confession, praise or supplication (asking).
- Prayer in Motion – Take a prayer walk around the church building. Encourage the children to pray for those who attend the church and the activities that are held there. Other sites include the surrounding neighborhood, a nearby school or a walk down the hall stopping at the door of each classroom to pray.
- Graffiti – Tape a large piece of butcher paper on the wall. Provide markers. Write in large letters, “Thank You, Lord” or “God, Please. . .” Encourage the children to write and/or draw their thanks or needs. During prayer time refer to the mural.
- Prayer Trades – Give each child two 3X5 cards. Have him draw a picture of himself and sign his name on the front of the card. On the back of the card ask him to write three prayer requests. The children are to walk around the room and trade cards with each other until a signal is given to stop. They are to trade cards with at least three people. The children are to pray for the two children whose cards they have during the coming week.
- Prayer Chain – Form small groups of four or five children. Give each group strips of construction paper, felt pens and a gluestick. Ask each child to write his name and a prayer request on a paper strip. For each prayer request, the child may use a different strip. Each group connects their loops to make a chain then trades chains with another group. Each group then prays for the requests written on the chain. As a take-home prayer reminder ask each child to take at least one loop home and pray for that request throughout the week.
- Newspaper Prayers and Praise – Form small groups of children. Give each group a page of a recent newspaper and a red and green marker. Ask each group to find three different needs to pray about and circle with a red marker. Ask them to find three reasons to give God praise and circle with a green marker. Bring the group back together to pray about needs and give praise.
What do children need to know about prayer?
“Let’s stress relationship not mechanics as we teach our children to pray.” ~ Keith Wooden, Teaching Children to Pray.
What is prayer? Prayer is talking to God. When praying with children, emphasize relationship. We talk often with our friends and family. God is our friend and our heavenly Father. He wants to talk with us.
Why should we pray? There are many reasons to pray–to give the Lord our thanks and praise, to confess our sins, to ask for Him for help with our problems, to ask Him for help for others, and just to talk with our Father.
How should we pray? Often children have learned that they must close their eyes, bow their heads and fold their hands to pray. This posture does reflect reverence. More importantly, it removes distractions. But emphasizing posture often removes the spontaneity of prayer. Teach the children from Bible examples that they can pray in any position.
When should we pray? Men and women in the Bible have taught us that we can pray anytime. I Thessalonians 5: 17 tells us to “Pray without ceasing.”
Where should we pray? Let the children share places where they have offered prayers to God. Also share examples of places where men and women of the Bible prayed. Emphasize the fact that we can pray anytime, anywhere.
Why do we pray “in Jesus’ name?” Jesus told as to ask or pray in His name (John 16:23b).
Lessons That Get Kids PRAYING…
Bear Someone Else’s Burdens
As the children enter give each child a smooth stone and a felt tip pen. Ask him to write a prayer need on the stone then place the stone in the bucket. When every child has placed a stone in the bucket, ask a volunteer to come up and try to carry the bucket.
What could we do to make this bucket easier to carry? Read Galatians 6:10 together. Discuss: What is a burden? How is this bucket full of stones like carrying a burden? What are some ways we can bear another’s burden?
Discuss the fact that prayer is on way each of us can help someone else with a problem.
Let each child come up and pick up another child’s stone from the bucket. Ask him to pray for that need during the next week.
Throw Away Your Troubles
Give each child white paper and crayons. Ask him to draw pictures or write a sentence about problems or worries that are in his life. When he has finished, ask him to wad the paper up into a ball.
How do you feel when you have problem or are worried about something? What are some ways you handle your problems and worries? Let’s read I Peter 5: 7 to find out the best way to deal with them. Who are we to cast all our trouble on? How can we cast all our troubles on Jesus? We can tell Him about our problems as we pray.
Set a wastebasket in the middle of the room. Have the children form a circle around it. Let each child toss his wadded paper of worries into the wastebasket. As he does so, encourage the other children to pray with him about these problems.
Originally printed as the Volume 1, Issue 8 of the CM Newsletter, August 1997, Contributing Editor: Kathy Creasy