What if the alarm clock rang, little feet scuffled across the floor, voices began softly as family members jockeyed for their position in the living room and the next sounds were loud shouts of praise to God for the things he has done and his character qualities that we love? Perhaps that is not your typical morning routine. But it could be, at least once in a while, and especially as we celebrate the National Day of Prayer on Thursday, May 5, 2016. It’s coming soon.
Often overlooked and underestimated, our children are likely excluded from any prayer focus we may engage in on National Day of Prayer. That may stem from a feeling of inadequacy on our part about how to include children in a time of prayer. Or it may be the result of lack of planning and the crunch of time deadlines to get out the door for work, school, meetings or workout time. Most likely, we haven’t really considered the importance of including children in times of prayer for the bigger realm of their nation.
In Biblical precedent, Jesus has well known passages where he refers to the wisdom of inviting children into spiritual practices and understanding faith. Luke, in Acts 21:5-6a, points out children were included in praying as they sent Paul and his crew on the next leg of his journey to Jerusalem. When we returned to the ship at the end of the week, the entire congregation, including women and children, left the city and came down to the shore with us. There we knelt, prayed and said our farewells. (NLT)
Truth is, once kids understand prayer and get comfortable with praying, it gives them hope. Quickly they learn that God, who is mightier than any problem they encounter, is willing and able to listen to and act on what they have to say. Prayer is their connection to understanding the fact that God desires an active relationship, involving actual communication between themselves and God.
The theme for this National Day of Prayer is Wake Up America, giving us the perfect time to wake up and widen our children’s horizons for prayer. The central verse for the day is Isaiah 58:1a, Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Prayer for our nation does not have to be quiet, so here are a few ideas to get you started. Use one or two on the National Day of Prayer or spread them throughout the week.
Pray for Families
Write “Father,” “Mother,” “Children,” “Babies,” and “Grandparents” on the outside of an index card, each folded in half. Place one at the place setting of each person in your family, making duplicates of some cards if necessary. At mealtime, discuss why each of these categories of family members might need prayer. What problems do families in our country face? Teach your family to spend one minute quietly asking God what they should pray about this situation. Then have each family member take a turn praying as God directed for a problem fathers in general might be facing and then pray for their own father. Encourage everyone to pray for the category on their card using this format. All can say the “AMEN” together at the end.
Pray for Schools
On a piece of poster board, have one family member draw a picture of a school. Other family members can help add details as time permits. As the picture is being drawn, ask how God could help the school in your community. Take a minute of quietness before God to ask him what he wants you to pray in this situation. Then involve those who can write by asking them to record the responses around the edge of the poster board. When finished, have everyone stand around the poster, placing a toe on one of the words. Take turns praying for the response they have selected. Let the youngest one in the family say the “Amen.” Hang the poster board in your home for the week, to continue praying.
Pray for the Nation
Discuss what problems children know about in our country. How could we pray for God to work in those problems? Who is our President? What could we pray for him or those who run our country? Remember, take a minute of silence, asking God what he would have you pray about for the nation. Now blow up one balloon (red, white or blue is appropriate) for each child. Using permanent markers, write on the balloons what you will pray about. Help younger children add theirs in simple words. Gather in a circle, each one holding their balloon, and pray for the written concerns. When all have prayed, add the “AMEN.” Tie the balloons together and display them in your home to continue praying throughout the week.
Incorporate your children in prayer often and in a variety of ways. Wake up…and PRAY!
KidZ at Heart International offers training for churches—children’s ministry teams, leaders, volunteers and parents—through Global KidZ workshops. Presenters share time-tested principles to release your kids to grow confident in personal prayer, for their family, community and globally. Kid-specific insight prepares you to effectively engage kids i prayer anywhere, any time. Creation of specific ready-to-use prayer stations during the workshop allows you to engage your kids in prayer immediately in a classroom. Contact our NextGen team to discuss how Global KidZ could work for you.