By Cheri Fuller
The Rubottom kids in pjs and slippers come down stairs to the family room for their family's evening prayers. With eight children, it's an ongoing challenge to keep prayer time interesting. But the parents have found giving room for prayer styles and different bents helps their kids enjoy this time.
Emily, the fifteen-year-old, is concise and to-the-point when she prays. Chris, 13, is quiet and unemotional; when asked he prays on target, practical prayers. Hannah, 12, says compassionate, heartfelt petitions. With a sensitive conscience, she confesses quickly when she does wrong and also loves to talk to God in bed by herself before falling asleep. Abby, 10, and Cammie, 9, would rather draw messages to God in pictures or sing a prayer than pray aloud. The two younger children are just learning to pray but love prayer-walking around the neighborhood with the family. And baby Tim, 18 months, chimes in with "Amen!" when his siblings pray.
When kids are allowed to approach God according to the way they're wired up or designed, they enjoy praying more. We can let them know that prayer is word for talking and listening to God but He gives us a lot of leeway and freedom is how we engage in this dialogue. Let me encourage you to help your children express their personal styles in prayer. Vary the ways you pray as a family and you'll help them enjoy the process instead of dreading prayer as a duty. Here are some ideas:
- Musical kids can sing prayers, write prayer songs, or set a Psalm to a new melody.
- School-age kids who are reflective and verbal may like to keep a written journal of their prayers.
- Artistic children enjoy creating prayer tools to help them connect with God. They can make a prayer chain by cutting out seven strips of construction paper in different colors. Then with markers, they write on each strip who to pray for that day of the week: family, friends, neighbors, missionaries, politicians, pastor, and the lost. Let your child hang the prayer chain where it serves as a daily reminder to pray.
- Visual and artistic kids can express what they want to say to God through drawings. Suggest they draw a picture of something they want to tell God or ask God, and draw someone who needs God's help or that they're concerned about.
- Active "doer, mover" children often enjoy prayer-walking in nature or around the neighborhood, praying a blessing on each home. They can say spontaneous "thank you" and "Wow!" prayers when they see or do something they love and pray short "popcorn petitions" to God in the car, like when they see an emergency vehicle speeding to an accident.
Remember to be flexible to your child's changing needs when you pray as a family. At some stages a child will pray aloud and other times prefer to pray silently. Ask him or her: "Would you like to pray with me about this?" or "What's your biggest stress at school or sports I could pray about this week?" Pray a blessing for them at bedtime or in the morning before school. Just as you can pray in different ways, you can also change your location when you talk to God. Convey to your kids that wherever they are, God is there, too. He hears them whether they are in a classroom, in the doctor's office, playground or home.
A Prayer for My Children
Thank You, Lord, that You created each of my kids unique and You desire fellowship and relationship with them. Show them (and me too) how to connect with You and abide in You. Give them a heart that pursues You and a deep desire to pray. Thank You for Your promise that when they seek You, You will hear them and answer.
Copyright© 2007 Cheri Fuller. Use only by permission of author. Adapted from When Children Pray (Multnomah/Waterbrook) and Talkers, Watchers & Doers: Unlocking Your Child's Unique Learning Style by Cheri Fuller.
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