By Cheri Fuller
A preschool teacher taught her young students the Lord's Prayer, and each day during the year they practiced it. One morning a three-year-old volunteered to lead the class and prayed, "Our Father, who Artist in heaven, Halloween be Your name! Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, one national under God, invisible, with livery for all. Amen!"
Who is this God we address in prayer? An Artist in heaven and our Father? With these names the little girl was right on target. The "livery for all" I'm not so sure about. But since prayer is a conversation that turns salvation into a real relationship, and since Jesus instructs us, "Bring the children to Me" (Luke 18:16) helping our children to know Him and His attributes is important to the prayer process.
The more children understand who God is, the more confidently they can pray. When we lead them in praying for His peace, for instance, we're not asking Him for something outside His capabilities, because Jesus is the Prince of Peace. When we ask Him to provide for a need, we do it with confidence because He is the Lord, our Provider.
Consequently, learning God's attributes and names can be a boost to your child's prayer life. The Bible is a terrific resource for this endeavor. Throughout the pages of Scripture are countless snapshots of God. For example, the Psalms declare over and over who God is and how He acts in behalf of His children: "The Lord is gracious and compassionate, holy and awesome is His name" (Psalm 111:4, 9). "For the Lord is always good, his faithfulness goes on and on to each succeeding generation" (Psalm 100:5, LB). "He forgives all my sins.. He surrounds me with lovingkindness and tender mercies" (Psalm 103:3). He is a God who listens (the word means straining his ears to hear) and pays attention to our prayers (Psalm 66:19, LB).
Here are some ways to help your kids know the God they (and you) are praying to:
Snapshots of God. Children can tell God they love Him by describing Him by His names. Each week take time to talk about a different aspect of God. Read the verse and have your kids draw a picture that symbolizes this name of God:
Play Alphabet Praise. Forty energetic kids from kindergarten to fourth grade wiggled in their chairs for children's church one autumn Sunday. "Let's praise God from A to Z," I suggested. "He's so great and mighty we could describe Him all day, but we only have 45 minutes. So let's start with A. Raise your hand if you know something about God that starts with an A."
Hands shot up, "Awesome! God's awesome!" said Morgan.
"Able! He's able to do anything!" said Andrew.
"Authority," said a serious eight-year-old wearing glasses. "God has all the authority."
I wrote the words on a white board as fast as the kids called the words out. We finished with A, covered B, then started on C.
"Creator! Compassionate! Kind!" they called out. The kids surprised me with how much they knew about God. It took two Sundays to complete the whole alphabet and all the while the children praised God aloud for Who He is.
You can help your child create his own Alphabet Praise Journal of God's names and character. Each page can feature a different letter of the alphabet and include verses about who God is. Encourage your child to write or draw his favorite things about God in the notebook. Then choose one attribute to focus on each week and make that your center as you pray together as a family. You will never run out of attributes because God's character and nature is inexhaustible!
This is a key thing as children learn to know God and grow in prayer because "what comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us," wrote A.W. Tozer. He believed having a right concept of God was basic to living the Christian life. And to usher power into our prayers, he said we must begin to think of God and praise God more nearly as He is.
Copyright 2007 Cheri Fuller. Cheri Fuller, a popular speaker and author of A Busy Woman's Guide to Prayer (Integrity), Focus on the Family's The Mom You're Meant to Be, and her upcoming Loving Your Spouse Through Prayer: Praying God's Word Into Your Marriage (January release) and other books.
Use only by permission of author. Visit www.cherifuller.com for more resources and encouragement for parents.
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