by Nancy Tichy, Author for KidZ at Heart International
Tomorrow (April 14) starts a weekend when many people around the world pray for children between the ages of 4 and 14 – the 4 /14 Window. It can be as simple as interceding for kids in your family. You can broaden the scope by praying for needy children near at hand, and far away from you that you hear about on the news or see in mission magazines. The point is to set aside some time to beseech our Heavenly Father with this focus in mind. They are, after all, his kids, too!
Holy Week begins tomorrow as well, a time we remember our Savior’s great agony suffered for us and his victory over death as the Firstborn among many. (Romans 8:29b) Much of the world calls this Easter. It comes very near to a much older celebration, Passover, which is a picture of this latter event.
Whatever your traditions may be, I hope you take some time to celebrate this solemn, joyous event in ways that bring blessings to your family and forge memories for your children that will remain with them for a lifetime. It need not be complicated, and you have resources readily available to give good ideas and strategies for this at home. You supply the intention, carving out the time needed – perhaps the most difficult task with overcrowded schedules so often conflicting with each other.
I’d like to suggest something that takes little more than time and a willingness to gather together. You’ll need a pad of unlined paper for each person participating, pencils for drawing/writing and a Bible version in modern English. Even preschoolers can participate if they’ll listen and draw pictures. Find a comfortable place with as little distraction as possible. Sit around in a circle and appoint one person to be the leader. To begin with, let this be a parent, or another adult.
Choose a passage of Scripture that is primarily narrative. Give time for everyone to get comfortable. Invite someone to pray acknowledging God’s Spirit who is present at this gathering.
Let the leader read the chosen verses from the Bible aloud slowly, clearly and with expression. As the reader reads the story, encourage each person to draw on a sheet in his pad of paper. The leader pauses for a short while after he finishes and then continues by choosing from the questions given below. Give participants time to answer and share with each other in between each one.
- What picture comes to mind from what you’ve heard? Describe it.
- What questions does this raise? Think about this and search for answers.
- What makes you sad? …or glad? Show how you feel.
- Name one character who stands out more than all the others? Why is this so?
- What does God want you to do? Write it down – and obey.
- Do you have a final thought? State it briefly.
You need not use every question every time. End each session with a quiet moment or two, and then a benediction read by the leader, or recited together because it was memorized beforehand. See Ephesians 6:24 for one example.
You’ll find family members can grow comfortable with this format. No one is put down for anything he says. Anyone who wishes to ‘pass’ when asked to speak up is respected. No one speaks for a long time at any turn, even the leader. This is not a time for someone to teach or preach at length, but for all to prayerfully listen to the Bible passage itself and respond to it, capturing on his pad of paper things of value that he wants to remember and sharing freely with others in the group.
This may seem risky to you at first, but it need not be. Remember, Jesus promised that he would send his Spirit to teach us. (John 16:13 …the Spirit of truth will guide you into all truth.)
A final thought: the April observance of prayer for the 4/14 Window is a worldwide time of prayer for children, and it is a challenge for us to equip children to pray as well. Please consider ways you can invite the children to join with you in your times of prayer.
May God’s grace be eternally upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 6:24
KidZ at Heart values the family‘s part in enabling children to fulfill their role in God’s plan.