Growing Steadfast Hearts Through Prayers
Prayer is very important in the life of believers. We pray because we love God. We pray because God loves us and wants to spend time with us. Jesus accomplished many miracles after He prayed. Prayer was one of the last acts Jesus did. Whether you consider the garden prayer in John 17 as His last or the one on the cross found in Luke 23 verse 34, He prayed until the very end of His life on earth. The Bible says that He ever lives to intercede for us (Hebrews 7:25). If Jesus prays, so should we. The earlier we start developing a prayer life, the better.
One of the most important assignments mothers have is to prepare the hearts of their children to have an intimate relationship with God through prayer. Prayer is key to building that relationship with God because prayer is an act of faith. Hebrews 11:6 says, “without faith it is impossible to please God”. When we demonstrate our faith in God through prayer and listening to what God has to say about our lives, we not only please Him, we also build our trust and confidence that He hears us.
Knowing how to pour our hearts out to God and how to listen for direction from the Lord can help grow steadfast hearts in our children. Let’s face it, troubles come to all. Knowing how to turn to the Lord in times of trouble can help our children resist the urge to turn to substance abuse, help them recognize schemes of the devil, and help them learn how to rely on God’s provision in times of need.
Teaching our children to pray becomes a challenge when life’s demands keep us busy surviving. Fortunately, God has given us enough time in every day to do everything He has assigned for us to do. He has also given each of us a measure of creativity we need to make the most of every day. The following activities are simple strategies that will ignite passion in children to pray.
Creating A Prayer Journal
Start a prayer journal with your child. My adult daughter started a “Thankful Journal” with her second grader. They are learning to memorize Bible verses. It is very important to establish a routine of spending time with God. Journaling is an easy start. Use a composition book or spiral you purchase at the local discount store. Have your child personalize the cover and set it in a special place where it can be found. Mom, you need one as well. Journaling together at the end of the day is a great way to develop open communication with your child. Choose a Bible verse to learn each week or two weeks, depending on the age of the child. Teach your child how to turn the Bible verse into a prayer. Make prayer lists and write down prayers. Date the prayers and reflect on them from time to time. Have discussions about answers and be sure to thank God for them.
Praying Silent Prayers
Talk about Hannah (1 Samuel 1) who prayed silently in the temple. The people around her couldn’t hear what she said, but God did and He answered her prayer. Play “Guess what I’m Thinking”. Ask the child to guess what you are thinking. Of course, they won’t be able to guess, this is an open door to help children learn that God can hear our thoughts (Proverbs 15:11). This means they can pray any where and at any time. Prayer is not limited to a night time ritual. Children need to understand that God is listening to us and He cares about what we are doing. God will listen to our prayers no matter where we are and we can pause to pray whenever we feel the need.
Praying for Leaders
Talk to children about government leaders they may have heard about on the news or learned about at school. Create one cut stars, write the names of the government leaders, teachers, school staff, church leaders, anyone the child wants to include. Post the stars in the child’s room or designated “prayer room” at home. This reminds the child to pray. Mom and child can pray together.
Praying for those in need
Talk to children about how our prayers can help others. To demonstrate how one simple act can reach someone else, make a folded fan together. If there is time, decorate a sheet of paper before folding the fan. Both mom and child make their own fan. After the fan is completed, sit back to back and take turns fanning yourselves. “Can you feel the air from the fan behind you?” James 5:16 encourages us to pray for one another and our persistent prayers will make a difference.
Creating Psalms & Songs Together
The book of Psalms is full of prayers that are songs. Children love to create rhymes. On the commute to or from school, grocery shopping, or while shopping, try to create words that rhyme with the first line of a memory verse from a Psalm. For example, Psalm 77:11 & 12 (NIV) reads, “Lord, I will remember what You did. Yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago. I will spend time thinking about everything You have done. I will remember all of your mighty acts.” This is clearly a prayer of thanksgiving. Turned into a rhyme would be
Lord, I remember what you did
Your miracles of long ago.
I will think about everything You have done
And will remember the mighty miracles You show.
Sing and dance freely while getting dressed or undressed. These will create moments of joy and laughter. Remember, Proverbs 17:22 says, “a merry heart does good like a medicine”.
Did you know there is a verse in the Bible about beautiful feet? Most children don’t. This activity can lead to discussions about praying for neighbors, churches, communities, and schools. Isaiah 52:7 declares that “beautiful are the feet that carry the good news and proclaim peace and salvation.” Having prayer walks around the neighborhood is great way to teach children how to cover their city with prayer. If an indoor activity is needed, trace and cut out family foot prints. Write Isaiah 52:7 on the prints and decorate them. Hang the up to remind each other to pray for your community and local church.
These are just a few activities to start building prayer habits that will last. Children will learn how to communicate with God, pray for others, and develop a consistent prayer life. While these activities involve mom and child, don’t forget to invite Dad. Remember the popular quote “A family that prays together, stays together” (Fr. Patrick Peyton).