God loves to communicate with his children — young and old. If they talk, God listens. And if they listen, God will talk. And that’s really what prayer is all about.
Are you looking for some ways to encourage the kids in your group to talk and listen to God? Here are some suggestions:
- Children learn by example. Do you pray? It’s pretty hard to teach kids something you do not practice yourself!
- Remember that child-like prayer is real prayer — your goal is not to teach children to pray adult prayers, complete with clichés, “holy” words, or pious expressions. Encourage children to come to God in their own way, to say what comes naturally in a simple, conversational way. Kids need to know that no one will laugh at their prayers or pronounce them “cute” or “sweet.”
- Help children understand the purpose of prayer — it’s the best way to build a relationship with God. Just as relationships grow when we talk often and openly to parents and friends, so we grow closer to God by talking regularly. And just as we talk to our families about a variety of things, our prayer conversations with God include praise, confession, thanks, and requests.
- Learn by doing: Involve children in different kinds of prayer as you approach God together:
- “popcorn prayers”: short, spontaneous, sentence prayers
- prayer journals in which kids can write or draw their prayers
- prayer walks: a walk through the community or church building with stops along the way to pray for specific needs and people
- prayer songs: graces, blessings, the Lord’s Prayer, psalms put to music
- silence: opportunities for everyone to listen for the still, small voice within, or prepare their hearts and minds to meet God prayer request boards: displaying requests and answers to prayer in a public place
- prayer circles with a candle: a votive candle is passed around the circle, with each child holding the candle and praying aloud or silently.
- Teach children prayer methods they can do on their own at home. The ACTS acrostic is a common one (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication).