My sister asked me to help her with a prayer guide that her church is producing. She needed tips on how families could make time to pray and creative ideas on how families with children could pray. Here are some of the things that I came up with (of course I have been at Trunk or Treat all night tonight so some of these may not make sense). I wanted to put them here because, well, I am needy and every time I create something I want someone to praise it. You can check out the ideas after the jump.
The Idea: Use your time playing on the playground (or your backyard swing set) as a time for prayer.
Before you start: Tell your children that as you play today you are going to come up with new ways to pray. This would be a good time to explain that prayer doesn’t always mean that we have to bow our heads. It is important for children to learn that God is always with them and they can pray wherever they are.
How it Works:
Swings–As you get on the swings ask your child about what happens when they swing. Keep asking different questions until they say that the swings help them to get high up in the air. Point out that God lifts us up high sort of like a swing does. Say that as you swing you are going to come up with ways in your life that God has helped you or lifted you up. Give your child a push and tell him/her to say something that he/she is thankful for each time that you push him/her. After your child runs out of things that they are thankful for add a few of your own to the list.
When you finish swinging pause for a short moment, bow your head, and pray. Thank God for all of the things that you listed while swinging.
Slide–Say: Just like you slide down this slide some times in life there are things that drag us down. But even when things are going rough God is always with us waiting to catch us before we fall.
Stand at the end of the slide. As your child sits on the top ask him if he has anything that he would like for you to pray about. Let your child slide down then and catch him at the bottom. Hug him close and whisper in his ear. “God loves you and will always be there to catch you”. Repeat the processes for as long as you want to play.
Your child will quickly run out of things to pray about, but you probably have a list a mile long. Each time your child slides pray for one of the needs on your list.
Monkey Bars- -Ask your child what would happen if one of the rungs were missing. She may still be able to get across, but it would be more difficult. Then ask what would happen if more than one were missing. Eventually she would not be able to cross. Point out that in our church there are many people doing many different jobs, and if any one of them left it would effect her. So as she crosses the bars encourage her to pray for her church and the leaders in it. Let one rug be the pastor, another her age group specific pastor and another to be her Sunday school teacher. Then ask her to think of other people in the church who have an impact on her. (You may be surprised at the answers). As she crosses encourage her to pray for each person and you be praying for your leaders as well.
In Car Prayer:
The Idea: Families spend lots of time in the car so why not redeem some of that time as a time to pray prayers of praise.
Before You Start: Before you crank the car inform your children that part of your trip will be a prayer of praise by saying the following silly rhyme.
We’re in the car for another ride
and we need something to pass the time.
So from now till then until we get there
we will pray the see what God has made prayer.
How it works: Take turns saying things that you see that God has made. Once you say something you see the next person has to say a short prayer of thanks for that item and then gives the next item. This continues around the car (or back and forth between 2 people). For older kids add an element of memory to the game by listing everything that is said each time. For instance if Sally says, I see Trees then Mom would say Thank you God for the trees. I see a dog. Sally would then have to say, “thank you God for trees and that dog.” and then would add something that she saw and it would continue from there.
If small children have a trouble differentiating between things that are man made and God made be sure to point out that everything is made by someone made by God so everything that you see can be used as a way to praise God.
The idea: Being out in public with your children can sometimes be stressful. Beat the stress and add prayer to your day by taking short (1 minute) prayer breaks while you are out and about.
Before you start: The first few times you do this your children may look at you funny, but eventually they will catch on to the idea.
How it works: Once every hour stop everything you are doing and sit down to pray. Find you a bench or a place you can sit sort of out of the way. Sit down. Pull your children up into your lap or put your arms around them. Take a few deep breaths and then pray. Pray for the people that you see around you. Pray that God will use you to be a light to them. Encourage your children to pray for the people that they see as well. When you are finished squeeze them all real tight and go on about your business. You will feel better and your children will see a visual demonstration of the importance of prayer.
Pick Up Prayers:
The Idea: Pray for your children as you are cleaning up after them.
How it works: As you are picking up your child’s toys or other things use that time to pray for him. Let that small act of service that you are doing be an offering to God and lift up your child to Him in prayer as you are cleaning.
IDEAS FOR FUN FAMILY PRAYERS
Prayer Flash Cards:
The idea: create flash cards as visual reminders of who you are praying for as a family. Your small children can use those cards as a reference on who to pray for.
Before you start: Gather together pictures of family members, friends, and church leaders (especially your child’s Sunday school teacher) and create a set of flash cards using the pictures. If you glue the pictures onto construction paper or large index cards you can have room to write requests beneath the picture.
How it works: Use your deck of cards to guide your time of prayer. There are several ways that you can do this. The basic way to pray would be to turn over each card and then pray as a family for the person who is on the card. You can also pass out the cards face down to each person in your family and then take turns turning a card over and praying for the person on the card.
Journaling Letters: (older kids)
The idea: Write down a prayer that you have for someone else in your family and then let them read it.
Before you start: Gather pens and half sheets of paper (because whole sheets can be intimidating) for each person in your family.
How it works: Sit everyone in your family in a circle. Then each person would write a prayer about the person sitting on their left. If you have never journaled a prayer before encourage your children to write down what they would say to God if they we
re praying for their person. Play some soft music while people are writing their prayers.
After everyone has finished pass your prayer to who it was about and then let everyone read the prayer written about them aloud.
The idea: God has given us each a special gift to use in the church. This prayer uses a puzzle to pray for the people who are in our church.
Before you start: Find a wooden puzzle or other toy that requires the matching of shapes. (Like a toy with square, triangle, and star shaped holes)
How it works: Put the puzzle together with your child. As you do point out that God made everyone different and special. Tell your child that the church has many different people with different talents all coming together to glorify God. As you put in the pieces of the puzzle pray for our church and its leaders. Be sure to include your child’s Sunday school teacher in your prayers.
After you have prayed undo the puzzle and start putting them back in again. This time encourage your child to pray a prayer similar to the one that you prayed.
(SUMER: Up to this point these have all been ideas that I came up with tonight. Below are old ideas that I have pulled from the web site and my 28 for 28 book)
The idea: Draw your praise instead of saying or singing it.
Before you start: Gather a bunch of age appropriate art supplies
How it works: For younger children ask them to draw some of the things that God has done or God has made. For middle to older children and for adults draw a picture that provides some sort of ending to the phrase “God is…”. As a family let this art time be a fun time. After everyone has finished share your pictures with each other and voice a short prayer of thanks using the pictures as a guide.
Global Focused Prayers:
The idea: Help kids to remember to pray for people around the world by simulating what it means to be thirsty.
Before you start: Get a small bit of salt for each person to eat and a drink ready in the refrigerator.
How it works. Ask each person to eat some of the salt. After they do and ask for something to drink either tell them to go get something or if they are too young go with them and fix them a drink. After they come back point out that in many parts of the world children have to walk several miles every day to get water. That small thirst that you felt right then is nothing compared to the hunger and thirst that many children are going to bed feeling right now.
Spend some time praying. Thank God for what he has provided you and ask his protection on those people who went to bed hungry and thirsty tonight. Ask God to use you to help them.
If your child seems interested in ways that they can help out think about possibly sponsoring a child or getting involved in other aid organizations.
The Idea: God has called you to join him on a journey or quest with Him. This is a hard road,
but he doesn’t send you alone. He has called together a group of people to walk this
road with you—your Sunday school class. These are your traveling companions, the
ones who you lean on for strength and support when you are struggling.
Before you start: Figure out how many people are in your Sunday school class and get that same number of tea lights. You may want to collect candles for the people in your children’s classes as well.
How it works: With a marker write the name of each member of
your class on a candle. For those of you with larger classes you may want to have
each candle represent a couple or have more than one name on a candle. As you pray for each person light their candle as a visual representation of your prayers.
If you have children be sure to do this activity in a dark room. Point out how the room gets brighter the more that you pray.