Sometimes when we share a lesson or message with children, we fail to offer a time of ministry that allows children to respond to the message or express other prayer needs. But prayer ministry is a very significant aspect of children’s ministry just as it is in adult ministry.
- Prayer ministry invites the children to respond to the truth of God’s Word that was presented in the Bible lesson or message. It “closes the deal,” asking the children to not only be hearers of the Word but to also become doers of the Word.
- Prayer ministry helps children recognize that while they may desire to obey the truth of God’s Word, they cannot do so just by making a decision to obey. Every child needs God’s Spirit to make him aware of his sin, give him a desire to obey, and teach him how to obey.
- Prayer ministry allows children to experience intimacy with the Father. As a child presents his willful sins, his temptations, his needs, and his desires to the Father in prayer he is able to sense the Father’s love and His willingness to help.
How can we effectively minister to children during prayer ministry?
Always give an opportunity for a child to respond in prayer to the message you have shared.
The response does not always have to be “come and kneel at the altar.” It can be more creative and varied depending on the Bible truth that has been presented.
Prayer ministry can include children coming forward for one-on-one ministry whether at an altar or in a designated area of the room. Children can also be given the opportunity to go to a specific prayer center that reflects their prayer need(s). Or children with similar needs (i.e. family, school, friends) can be directed to go stand with an adult and receive prayer ministry as a group and individually.
Find out why the child responded to the invitation to pray.
Regardless of why the invitation was given, the child may have responded for a very different reason. Always begin a time of personal prayer ministry by asking the child, “What do you want Jesus to do for you?” The child’s response should guide how you minister to her.
Take the child’s request seriously.
While some of the children’s prayer needs seem inconsequential to us, to the child they are important. And because the child is important to God, his need is important to God as well. For example, a child might pray that he will find a lost pet or do well in a sporting event. While that is not the most important matter to us, God’s response to that prayer could strengthen the child’s faith and bring him into deeper intimacy with the Father.
I Peter 5:7 reminds us, “Turn all your worries over to him. He cares about you” (NirV). If children learn how to give their simplest needs to God today, they will be more able to turn over complex needs over to Him in the future.
Sometimes the child’s response to the question, “What do you want Jesus to do for you?” may help you lead the child to salvation or freedom from fear, guilt, sadness, or anger. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you discern what spiritual need his response might be revealing.
Use simple and specific language when talking with a child during prayer ministry.
Most children and even adults do not fully comprehend terms such as “redeemed”, “born again,” or “justified.” Use simpler words to help children understand important faith concepts.
Also, make sure that as you teach and preach to children you are continually helping them understand key Bible truths and concepts that will lead to a life of obedience and confidence in God. Children must have a solid biblical understanding of sin, temptation, disobedience, confession, and forgiveness so that they can leave free from condemnation and experience intimacy with the Father.
Help the child pray in agreement with God’s Word.
When the child expresses her need in response to the question, “What do you want God to do for you?” ask yourself, “Is this request in agreement with God’s Word?” If not, help the child restate her request in a way that is in agreement with God’s Word.
A word of caution: do not assume that the child’s prayer is misdirected because of your lack of faith. A child’s prayer of faith invites God to do what seems impossible.
Invite the child to pray.
Don’t assume that because the child is young or inexperienced he is unable to pray. Encourage the child to pray by reminding him that prayer is simply talking with God, helping him think through what he wants to say to God, and then agreeing with him as he prays.
Provide assurance through the Word of God.
Often we provide our own assurance to the child that God has heard and answered her prayer. But only God’s Word provides assurance that the child can fully depend on. So provide assurance from God’s Word. If the child has confessed his sins, offer assurance from a verse such as 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins…” Ask the child, “What was your part?” “Did you do your part?” “If you did your part, what did God do?” “Yes, if you do your part God will always do His part.”
If the child has asked for a specific need to be met, assure him with a verse such as Philippians 4:19, “And my God will meet all your needs…” If the child has asked for something that is clearly God’s will such as salvation of a family member, let him find assurance in a verse such as 1 John 5:14, “We are sure that if we ask anything that He wants us to have, He will hear us.”
After prayer ministry, talk with each child you ministered to. Encourage the child to thank God for what He has done and will do. Assure him that you will be praying with him for the specific requests or needs. If he has made a specific decision such as receiving Christ as Savior or accepting a ministry call, encourage him to talk with his family about this decision. Continue following up with him concerning those things you prayed together about during prayer ministry and keep praying for God to answer.
-As published in the January 2015 issue of the “White Wing Messenger.”