A few months ago my sister asked for some prayer ideas for how busy parents can find time to pray. These may not be anything that really works with youth ministry, but if you have small children and are looking for ideas to help bring prayer into your daily life you may find these to be fun.
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 the children’s minister and another 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.
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.