by Nancy Tichy, Author for KidZ at Heart International
Right in the middle, between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, each year comes an observance known as World Weekend of Prayer for Children at Risk. This is an international call to prayer that links Christians around the globe to petition our loving, Heavenly Father for the welfare of millions of children. These are the most vulnerable members of our human race whose numbers seem to increase with every passing year. War and other insidious brands of violence, disease and neglect are all tools of our great Enemy, Satan. It seems, somehow, that he gets special delight in targeting our kids.
While vast numbers of at-risk children are in the ‘Global South’ and in under-resourced parts of this world, our own children in North America often face attacks like bullying, outright meanness on school campuses, clever devices via technology, subtle teaching and confusion about alternative lifestyles and other unbiblical activity. All children are at risk in some way or another, and we are wise to remain vigilant, first for those within our own homes and neighborhoods, schools and churches as well as beyond. Prayer is an amazing spiritual weapon for this.
One resource to help us do a better job in observing the first weekend of June is Viva. For years this organization has been calling us to our knees (both literally and figuratively) and giving us inspiration, while equipping us with workable strategies. Their watchword this year is Teach Us to Pray. Check them out. Displaced people (a large percentage of them children) used to number in the thousands. Now we count them by the millions. The following are some specific risks children face around the world:
- Children whose lives are impacted by war, regional violence from ISIS, Boka Horam and the like.
- Babies born addicted to drugs and street kids who scavenge for food and use drugs.
- Children who suffer abuse, physical and verbal, in their own families.
- Children who are neglected and abused because they were born with physical abnormalities.
- Children who die from disease-carrying water and treatable illnesses.
- Runaways and kidnapped-into-slavery children.
- Orphans; older children who look after their younger siblings without adult help.
It’s not an easy task to involve children in prayer for at-risk children. It might be downright frightening for really young children to learn of the plight of these kids. Older children and teens can ask difficult questions when you present the pressing needs globally and the urgency for prayer. Still you can experience intimacy with Jesus and with each other when you take seriously your privilege of bringing needs like these to him in prayer.
There’s still time before June third to plan for an all family prayer time. Make it simple and informal. Engage in easy tasks that are age appropriate. Draw, color, read selected scripture verses in easy-to-understand Bible versions, make a collage of pictures from missions magazines, find places on a globe or world map and pray for children there, thank God for sparing healthy children in safe places.
Kidz Kan for Families, a country-focused mission resource, provides child friendly ways to involve children. You can go all the way back to the beginning and find stories that feature children at-risk. Read and discuss one of these. Let your older kids help you plan your family event and encourage every child to participate – to pray. Join with another family who, like you, wants to carve out some time to pray together. Eat a share-a-dish meal afterwards, or watch a Torchlighters animated film (available as a download) or The Jesus Film Project’s The Story of JESUS for Children, available to watch free.
Plan, Participate, Pray! Perhaps this will be such a rewarding time you’ll find yourselves doing it more than once a year.
Tremendous power is made available through a good person’s prayer. James 5:16b
KidZ at Heart values children and the role they play in God’s plan.