As we move into long term recovery from Hurricane Harvey, I am hearing a lot of adults complaining about their situations. There is a lot of negativity in the air these days in our little town of Rockport, Texas. There’s a lot of anger and bitterness and resentment. And it is contagious. When one person hears about another’s upset, his own upset tends to grow. As Christians – and as role models for our kids – we need to step up and stop the flow of negativity from affecting our own hearts and the hearts of our children. How can we do that? I think that one good answer is found in one of my favorite hymns – Take it to the Lord in Prayer!
Here are some activities that you can do to help your children learn about prayer.
Lead by example – Children learn by watching and imitating everything you do. So show them that you live prayerfully. Pray constantly, in every situation, every day. Pray silently – and pray out loud. Pray long prayers and pray short prayers. Pray about big things and little things. Pray for help and pray for thanksgiving. Pray for friends and neighbors and family members. Pray for strength and patience and peace. Pray about all things.
Teach your kids to pray with sincerity – Some families and Christian schools teach kids little prayers to say at mealtime and bed time, and that’s fine. But we also need to teach them that prayer doesn’t have to be formal. It doesn’t have to rhyme. Prayer doesn’t have to be words that are memorized and repeated. Prayer is just simply talking to God, straight from our hearts.
Accept your children’s prayers – Children never cease to amaze me with their openness and honesty. If your child wants to thank God for having fun with Daddy at a pretend tea party or for keeping a favorite stuffed animal safe from the storm, that’s all well and good. Encourage your child to talk to God just as he would talk to any other friend. Let him know that God loves him and cares about everything he is thinking and feeling. Don’t correct or modify his prayers. Just let them be and trust that God will hear what’s on your child’s heart.
Prayer basket – Write the names of people you know who are hurting or in need on strips of paperand put them in a basket. Set aside a few minutes each day to draw names from the basket and take turns offering prayers for those people.
Prayer walk or drive- Take a short trip through your neighborhood and stop to pray with your child for the people who live in the houses you pass.
Prayer chain – Cut strips of paper and ask your child to tell you who or what they want to pray about. Glue the strips into circles so that they form a chain. Use the prayer chain to help guide you as you pray together every day.
Teach the ACTS prayer formula to School-age children – ACTS is an acronym for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. These are some big words and big ideas, so take time to explain them to your kids.
“A” is for “adoration”. This means we should tell God how much we love Him.
“C” is for “confession”. This is telling God when we’ve done something wrong and asking for forgiveness and help in doing what is right.
“T” is for “thanksgiving”. This is thanking God for the good things that He has given us.
“S” is for “supplication”. This is a big word that means asking for God’s help.
I pray that these ideas will help you and your family take your troubles and challenges to God and know in your hearts that He will hear your prayers.
Remember that next Sunday is a very special Sunday for our church. The new kindergartners will receive Bibles and be welcomed into “big church” for worship service. Life Group classes for all ages begin on Sunday and Missions and Music classes begin on Wednesday evening. Worship begins at 9:30. Life Group classes meet at 10:45. And Missions and Music classes are from 5:45 – 7:15 on Wednesday nights. See you then!