by Nancy Tichy, Author for KidZ at Heart International
Whereas the upcoming World Weekend of Prayer for Children at Risk is an international observance of intercession focused on the world’s neediest children, pleading for other people’s needs is only one of our roles when we pray. Prayer is many things. We know it also as praise to God for who he is, thanksgiving for his blessings, requests for ourselves and listening to God in quietness. If you’re already making plans to set aside a block of family time to pray during the first weekend in June, you might prepare by first going on this adventure in the school of prayer.
The Gospels record the model prayer that Jesus provided in two different contexts: Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-5. The prayers in each passage are nearly identical. The verses before and after the actual prayers recorded in Matthew and Luke are quite different. Of course, this is not the only time Jesus taught about prayer. Nonetheless, it is the only recorded time he did it in answer to a direct request from his disciples.Before you meet with your family, prayerfully design a plan that fits the ages of your family members and the time you want to set apart for making discoveries about prayer. Here are some ideas to choose from that may help. Let them lead you to your own.
- Print out copies of the prayer you wish to consider, one for each participant. Make the margins and line-spacing extra wide. I like the idea of giving family members lined paper and letting them make their own copies – again leaving the margins wide for note-taking. (Use the full version of the prayer by including the phrases that are often in the ‘notes’ in your Bible.) Begin your time together with a few quiet moments for each one to reflect and pray.
- With a highlighter pen, mark through all the verses that have to do with God, the Father.
- With a pen, circle the verbs in the three direct requests. (give, forgive, deliver)
- Encourage participants to share what each of these means to them, taking them one by one.
- Let a family ‘scribe’ record what you discovered about God the Father from these verses. What do we have the right to ask him for? What does he expect from us? Are there any changes in the way we pray that we might put into practice from this?
- As a group, craft a statement that summarizes the Lord’s prayer. It might go something like: “Dear Father in Heaven, you are eternal and powerful with a glorious kingdom. You welcome us to ask for daily needs to be met, forgiveness for our sinfulness and protection from spiritual enemies. We give you the glory and honor that you deserve with all our lives. Amen”
- Of course, your family’s summary statement may be quite different from the above which is fine. Whatever God leads you to, however, record it and let each member write it on a 3X5 card to place in their Bible. Review it periodically and refine it as you go. Expand on the direct requests and ask yourselves how this is changing the way you pray.
- Notice that there’s nothing directly said about intercession or listening prayer. Find other passages as time goes on that reflect truth about these. You might try Matt. 7:7-12 or Luke 11:5-13 for your next adventure just before your season of prayer for children at risk.
- Please remember that your adventures in prayer are a group experience, with all participants encouraged to take part. Make it a joint venture where each person is safe and welcome to share their observations and views. Count on the Holy Spirit to teach you. This may seem a risky business, to begin with, but I think you’ll find it highly rewarding. Your children may look back on these times together in discovery and prayer as some of their choicest memories.
…the Lord our God is near us, whenever we pray to him. Deuteronomy 4:7b
KidZ at Heart values the family’s part in enabling children to fulfill their role in God’s plan.