It’s a special and significant thing to pray with the children in your life – whether they are your own kids, grandkids, students or part of your church family.
Learning to pray from an early age can help kids shape a lasting and fruitful prayer life. It’s also an opportunity for kids to learn that prayer is not just about themselves, their family and friends, but it includes the whole world. That means praying for things such as global poverty, the environment and world peace.
Each of those are pretty daunting issues for adults to pray about, let alone for children. So here are three simple and fun ways to help little people pray about big issues.
Explore a local spot like a creek or bush reserve, and encourage the kids to collect natural items such as fallen leaves, gumnuts or twigs. You could bring a bin bag and gloves to clear up rubbish on your way too.
Chat with the children about how God created the whole world, all the plants, animals and people. He also asked all of us people to take care of the world. However, we haven’t all followed God’s instructions, and the way that many of us live our lives is hurting nature. Depending on the age of your children, you could explain more about climate change: how the burning of fossil fuels is causing temperatures to rise and the damage that is causing.
Explain that many of the poorest people in the world are struggling because the climate has changed. Farmers can’t grow enough crops to feed their families because there’s not enough rain. And sometimes when the rains come it’s too much at once, which means people’s homes are flooded. You can also explain that rubbish (particularly plastic) is also harming nature as well as people.
Have a look at the nature objects you have collected. Ask the children why they picked up those particular things. Look at the patterns and shapes displayed and talk about how God is a great designer and created all the amazing things that grow. Thank God for his creation and ask him to help us care for all of nature and for each other.
If you collected rubbish, find somewhere to properly dispose of it. Then ask God to help us to only buy what we need and to look after what he has given to us. Pray for protection and opportunity for families whose lives are most impacted by waste that others create.
Finally, ask the children what they have learnt from the walk, and if they have ideas about what they can change about how they live their lives as a result.
For some children, prayer could seem a little dull if it just means being still, closing your eyes and talking. (To be fair, a few of us adults may feel that too.) But prayer doesn’t have to be like that; God has given us all our senses and creativity to pray, praise and worship him.
So, for children of all ages for whom prayers need a nudge to get flowing, here is an artistic way to pray…
First, gather some arts and craft materials. It could be pens and paper, playdough, pipe cleaners and pompoms. Anything and everything you’ve got!
Then take a look at this story about a community borehole in Zimbabwe. Read it out to the children, explaining any new or tricky words along the way. Ask the kids to find Zimbabwe in an atlas or load up on Google Earth. Then get creative (you too!) and ask them to draw a picture or model a scene inspired by the story: it could be people digging for water near the river, cattle drinking at the new borehole, or a flourishing vegie patch.
When you’ve all finished your paintings/drawings/sculptures, have each person describe what they have created. Remember this isn’t an art competition! Then ask them if what they have produced could be turned into a prayer (you can help them out if it’s tricky).
Once the session is over, display the creations on the fridge, the mantlepiece or somewhere else you will see it every day. And use that as a reminder to pray for Tearfund’s partners and the many amazing people around the world whom God loves.
It can be hard for children to know what to pray, and they might be scared to pray out loud. So this is a prayer written in simple language for children to understand and pray together with an adult.
All you need is the introduction to read to the children and the prayer to say together afterwards. If your kids are old enough, they could read it aloud; or you can either just read it out in full to them, or line-by-line for them to repeat.
You can use the following as a guide to introduce the prayer to children:
You may have learned or heard about wars and battles that took place in the past. On ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day we remember the people who died in recent wars and give thanks for their courage and sacrifice. And we pray for peace and an end to war.
Sadly, there are still places in the world that are at war. Even where we live, people can be unkind and hurt each other. In the Bible (Isaiah 9:6), it is said that Jesus will be called ‘The Prince of Peace’. That’s because Jesus wants us all to live together and love each other, not fight and hurt each other.
Most of the places in the world that are at war today are far away. But that doesn’t mean we can’t help to bring peace. We can pray and ask God to bring peace to places where there is fighting. We can also live our lives in a way that is kind and brings peace to our friends, family and where we live. That’s how Jesus, the Prince of Peace, wants us to live our lives.
Now we are going to say this prayer for peace together:
We pray for all the countries at war today.
We ask that you bring peace
so that families can stay safe.
And as we live our lives today,
help us bring peace in everything we do.
Help us bring love where there is hurt
and kindness when there is pain.
Help us bring happiness when there is sadness
and comfort when people are scared.
Help us be a light when it is dark,
to take care of people and be a good friend.
Help us to always look after
people when they are in need.
Help us to always be good, kind
and may love be in our hearts forever.
When we give to others, we also get a gift
When we forgive others, we are also forgiven.