God is great, God is good. And we thank him for our food.
Great lives of faith have taken root in simple encounters with
God such as this. These initial concrete experiences of prayer
enable even little children to recognize the presence of God. The
rhyme and meter of traditional childhood prayer serve the important
function of teaching very young children who God is and how we
relate to him.
As kids learn more about their great God, though, their
conversations with him can move away from these rhyming tools into
rich, full expressions of their hearts. By modeling a prayerful
heart and being a kid-friendly prayer guide, you can help children
build a loving relationship with their God.
Just as kids learn to swim in a pool instead of on dry land,
they learn to pray in the presence of people who pray rather than
on their own. These ideas will help you create a climate that'll
bless and encourage kids' prayer lives.
Building on the belief that each child needs the prayers of
several loving adults, we wanted to encourage our congregation to
pray for specific children throughout the entire school year. In
September, we made individual folders that included a picture of a
child along with a short letter from the child, telling about
family members and favorite things to do. We identified children
only by first names for security reasons. We also included a
sponsor commitment card with the child's name and a space for the
sponsor's name. When an adult agreed to be a "prayer-ent," he or
she signed and turned in the card, keeping the child's folder.
We monitored the cards throughout the year to account for any
changes or moves that might happen, and we reassigned partners when
necessary. At the end of the school year, we hosted a special
coffee hour to introduce the children to their sponsors. We gave
sponsors buttons with their child's name on it.
These prayer-ent relationships have blessed entire families and
formed special bonds between church members. Even several years
later, there's a special connection between some of the children
and their prayer-ents.
We borrowed this idea from our women's ministry and tailored it
to an intergenerational prayer ministry. We explained the program
to the older kids and asked only those who were willing to make a
weekly journaling commitment to participate. Then we paired each
child with a committed adult.
We purchased spiral notebooks that were all the same color, a
set of file folders, and a file box. Then we wrote each child's
name on the inside cover of a notebook so it could be used as a
journal. We wrote the name on the inside so if children happened to
see an adult carrying a notebook, they couldn't tell whose it was!
We also wrote each child's name on a file folder. To keep the
element of secrecy, we put the file box in a place where adults
could easily access it without the children seeing them.
Each child opened the written dialogue with his or her adult pal
by writing a message in the journal about a prayer need, a fear, a
special interest, or an important event. Then children returned the
journals to the folders in the file box.
We asked adults to check the folders for their partner's
journal, pray for the child, write a response during the following
week, and return the journal to the file box during the next
session of Sunday school. They could include a gift to the child on
occasion, but the gift had to fit in the journal. This limited the
gifts to small inexpensive items such as a stick of gum, a
bookmark, or a pencil, but it made the kids eager to check their
We ran the program in four-month sessions, which allowed the
children to have three different prayer pals during the year. At
the end of each session, adults signed their names to their final
journal entry. The kids also made thank you cards for their pals,
who often continue to be trusted friends.
New Year's Prayers
One month prior to the beginning of a school or calendar year, I
send a note to each parent of a child in our preschool through
fifth-grade departments. I ask parents to create a New Year's
prayer letter to be read aloud as an affirmation to their
I give parents practical ideas of things to include in the
letter, such as praising God for their child's past accomplishments
and character growth. I also encourage parents to select a specific
Scripture to encourage future accomplishments. I provide decorated
paper to write or type the prayer on. Each family does this in
secret and returns the prayer to me by a specified date.
On the designated Sunday, I read the letters aloud as each child
beams with delight. At the end of the session, children can choose
to keep the letters in their Bibles or share them on a bulletin
board at church.
Green Bay, Wisconsin
A Child's House of Prayer
In our children's worship center, we've posted five areas of
prayer needs: relationship with God, healing, family, friends, and
other needs. We also purchased miniature globes to represent prayer
for the children of the world.
Immediately following our musical worship each Sunday, we
announce prayer time. Children who have needs can go to any of the
posted areas or choose to remain at their seats and hold a globe.
We discourage playing with the globes by reminding the children
that "God's got the whole world in his hands, and he holds it
carefully. Hold the world as God does." The rest of the children
circulate to pray for those who've expressed a need. Once a child
has been prayed for, he or she may choose to go pray for
Children are scattered all over, but it's great because they're
truly focused on prayer. We always play appropriate background
music to keep a reverent tone. Our prayer times have grown to 10 or
20 minutes, and it's touching to see the children praying for each
other. Our first-time guests get involved in this nonthreatening
time, and all the children come away refreshed because they prayed
or were prayed for.
Castle Rock, Colorado
Teacher's Prayer Guide
If you run out of things to pray for the children in your class,
use this helpful daily guide.
- Sunday-Pray for children's faithfulness. Ask God to help
children be faithful to God and their church.
- Monday-Pray that God will spark each child's memory with the
Bible story and Scripture verse you taught and show the children
how to apply it to their lives.
- Tuesday-Pray about temptation. Ask God to help each child
resist peer pressure and overcome difficult home situations.
- Wednesday-Pray for wisdom. Ask God to give each child
discernment to make wise choices and a heart to seek God's
- Thursday-Pray for thankful hearts, positive attitudes, and
lives reflecting God's joy.
- Friday-Pray for families to provide sound spiritual direction
and for peace in each child's home.
- Saturday-Pray for spiritual sensitivity and that God will
prepare each heart for another week's lesson.
I wanted my sixth-grade class to know that we need to pray for
conditions and "hurts" beyond our small rural area, so I bought
assorted sizes of adhesive bandages. At home and school, the
children searched newspapers and magazines for stories about the
In class, each child wrote the hurt they felt needed prayer on
an appropriate-size bandage for how big they felt the hurt was.
Then each child stuck the bandage on a globe on the area where the
hurt was happening. As we prayed, we slowly spanned the globe.
The kids' interest in this project over the course of the school
year never waned. We eventually had to stick the hurts on a poster
that we titled "Lord, hear our prayers for..." I was amazed at the
areas of concern these young people had. The project was a learning
experience for everyone.
Take a walk around your church grounds or neighborhood with the
kids. Stop every 50 steps and invite the children to look around
l something to praise God for creating,
l someone who has a need, and
l something that reminds them of a blessing God has given
Allow 30 seconds for children to look around and 30 seconds to
pray silently before resuming your walk. When you return to your
meeting area, discuss the most surprising thing that each child
found to pray about as they walked.
The Lord's Prayer
Use this activity when you're teaching about the Lord's
Give each child a sheet of paper. Provide identical stencils and
markers. Have the children use their stencils to create a design on
their paper and decorate the shape in any way they'd like. When
they're finished, have them stand in a circle as they hold their
Together read or repeat the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). Then
discuss how the Lord's Prayer is like the pattern they were given
to create the shapes they're holding. It gives us a basic outline
to know how to pray. Just as they each took the pattern you gave
and came up with totally unique creations, they can use the Lord's
Prayer as a pattern for praying and still pray to God in their
Pray one line of the Lord's Prayer, and allow children time to
express that thought to God in their words, either silently or
aloud. You can complete the entire prayer in the same way, or
follow the same process in subsequent sessions.
We give each child a pocket-size spiral notebook with a
magnifying glass sticker on the cover. We write the text from
Hebrews 4:16 and Matthew 7:11 inside the front cover to help kids
remember that it's a privilege to pray and that prayer is a gift
they can give to others.
We encourage students to use these notebooks to keep a record of
their "prayer suspects." On each page, they write:
l Who-The name of someone they want to pray for. A different
name can be listed on each notebook page.
l What-A need each person has. If children don't know a specific
need, they can pray for God's blessing or ask God to reveal a
l When-Space under each need to record when and how God answers
l Where-Notes about where kids see their suspects and a reminder
to say a short, silent prayer for the person whenever they
We encourage our kids to keep their notebooks in their pockets
Kids As Intercessors
Every Sunday we offer kids the opportunity to come 30 minutes
before Sunday school to be trained as intercessors. We spend about
five minutes teaching them about prayer. We've taught about how God
wants us to pray for people in authority, for missionaries, and for
issues in the news. We've also taught about different types of
prayer, such as petition, praise, and thanksgiving. We write prayer
requests in an intercessory journal and review the answers to
prayer weekly so the children can see the fruit of their prayers.
The rest of the time is spent in prayer.
We started the group because as our church grew, it became
harder to address each individual need during the service. The
children's intercessory prayer group is growing. We now have
parents coming and praying with their children. Everyone, including
the adults, has gained confidence in praying aloud, and the
children are experiencing the joy of being part of a vital
Give each child a sheet of paper and a pencil. Have them write
in the center of their paper a prayer concern they'd like to tell
others. Then gather the children in a circle (or several circles if
you have a large group), and have children hold their sheets of
paper. Have the first child share the concern he or she wrote, then
pass the paper to the person to the left. That person will say a
short prayer for the child and rip off a piece of the paper.
Continue around the circle until each child has prayed for that
need and torn off a piece of the paper. Then have the second child
share his or her need, and so on until all the children are prayed
Afterward ask, "What happened to the papers?" Explain that in
the same way that our papers became smaller, so our burdens seem
smaller when others pray for us.
Write the word "faith" on a large piece of butcher paper. Have
each child write on a strip of masking tape a prayer that God has
answered. The prayer can be their own, someone else's, or a
situation from the Bible. Use the children's tape strips to attach
the butcher paper to the wall.
Discuss with children that it's important to share answered
prayers because they encourage people's faith. Seeing how God has
answered in the past gives us faith for the future.
For kids who have prayer requests, have them write their
requests on the faith poster as an expression of their belief that
God will hear and answer their prayers. Each week highlight
requests that God has answered.
Write the following categories on separate cards made from
half-sheets of poster board: family members, favorite places,
things about school, things about church, my talents, who God is,
and what God has done.
Form groups of three. Give each group a pencil and a sheet of
paper. Have each group choose a "Counter." Tell the kids that
you're going to have a praise-fest. You'll flash a card, and all
the groups will say as many things as they can think of to praise
God for in the category shown. Each group's Counter will tally the
spoken responses as they're given.
When you're out of cards, ask each group to count their tally
marks. Combine all the groups' numbers. Then pray in closing,
"Lord, thank you for the things we praised you for. Help us never
stop looking for ways to praise you. In Jesus' name. Amen."
Pick a Prayer
Have each child write one prayer request on a paper strip. Roll
up each request, and insert the slip into the mouth of a balloon.
Blow up and tie off the balloons.
At prayer time, form pairs. Toss the balloons in the air as you
play music. Stop the music and have each person grab one balloon.
Let the pairs pop their balloons, then pray for the requests.
Kids for Kids
Each week every child fills out a communication card with his or
her name, address, and phone number. On the back of the card, the
child writes a prayer request. We collect the cards and pass them
back out so each child has someone else's prayer request. The kids
take the requests home and pray for each other during the week. The
following Sunday we talk about our prayers, give praise reports,
and discuss what it was like praying for each other. This quick and
efficient system at church has brought new life to our kids' prayer
experiences at home.
A Year of Prayer
Special Delivery: Prayer
In late November or December, distribute a postcard to each
family. A family can be one person. Ask families to write their
names and any special prayer requests on their cards. Encourage
families to return their cards over several weeks. A "prayer
administrator" makes sure every individual or family is
represented. If any families haven't filled out a card because of
their absence, the prayer administrator can fill one out on their
During the last week of December, mail a postcard to church
members so each family has a different family to pray for during
the month of January.
A Heart for Prayer
Have the children decorate pink and red construction paper
hearts. Then write the names of your church families on the backs
of the hearts-one name per heart. Suspend the hearts from your
church foyer ceiling.
Ask every family to take a heart and pray for that specific
family during February. Recruit a crew who's willing to pray for
more than one person in case some paper hearts remain.
Leave Your Burden
Cut out a large cross from foamboard, and display it in a
visible area in your church building. During the last week of
February, distribute sticky notes to church members-adults and
children. Ask each person to write a burden to give to God on the
note. People can do this anonymously. Encourage church members to
attach the notes to the cross. It's a good idea to attach a few
notes ahead of time to encourage participation. Each individual can
take home one of the notes and pray all month for that burden to be
lifted from the person who's carrying it. Allow time at the end of
the month for people to tell about answers to prayer.
Fragile: Handle With Prayer
For each family or child, you'll need six plastic eggs and half
an egg carton with spots for six eggs.
Paint the halved egg cartons. Use a permanent marker to write
"Fragile: Handle with Prayer" on each carton top.
Photocopy family names from your church's phone directory or
pictorial directory. Add the names of those not listed in the
directory. Cut apart the names, and put one family name in each
plastic egg. You can also simply write the name of each family on a
Give each family six eggs in a carton and encourage them to pray
for a family each day.
Collect enough small rocks for every child to have one. Then
give a rock to each child to carry around in a pocket during the
month of June. The rock is a reminder of Jesus, our rock, and it
can remind them to talk to Jesus daily.
Pop! Pop! Pop! Prayers
You'll need one empty 20-ounce soft drink bottle per family,
plastic disposable plates, a fine-tip permanent marker, glitter or
Mylar confetti, corn syrup, water, and scissors.
Have families create this fun prayer reminder craft together by
following these steps.
1. Cut six 1¥2-inch ovals from the plastic plates.
2. Write "Family," "Neighbors," "Church," "Our Government,"
"World Crisis," and "Peace" on six different ovals. Then put the
ovals into a bottle.
3. Add a teaspoon of glitter to the bottle
4. Fill the bottle 3Ú4 full of corn syrup and top with water.
Tighten the lid on the bottle.
Encourage families to shake the bottle every day during the
month of July and pray for the item that comes up first.
Print labels with "Pray for Our Children's Education." Attach
the labels to school supply boxes and give them to church members.
During the month of August, families can pray for education issues
or people associated with schools when they buy school supplies to
put in the boxes. When school starts, donate the supplies and boxes
to a local school for children who may not have school
Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
Make a pocket pillow-topper for each child. Use pinking shears
to cut a 6¥6-inch square of felt and a 3¥4-inch pocket. Glue the
sides and bottom of each pocket to a square. Write the name of each
child on a craft stick and tuck it into each pocket. Hand out the
pillow-toppers the first week of September, making sure no child
has his or her name. Encourage children to place the pillow-topper
on their beds as a reminder to pray for the person listed during
the month of September.
Leafing It to God
Pour prepared plaster of Paris into a medium-size bucket. While
the plaster is still wet, place a tree branch in the center of the
bucket to create a self-standing tree. Write the names of children
on fall-colored construction paper leaves, and tape the leaves to
the tree branch. Have children select a leaf and pray for that
person during October.
Make a Clean Sweep
Purchase tiny whisk brooms at a craft store or print whisk broom
images on card stock. Add a label with the words "Make a Clean
Sweep." Attach a self-adhesive magnet to each one so they can be
placed on refrigerators. Distribute these
as a reminder to pray for inner cleanliness as the Advent season
Family Advent Calendar
Print December calendars with the name of a family or individual
in each square. If your group is smaller than 31 people, repeat
names. If your group is larger than 31 people, put more than one
name in each square. Copy a second blank calendar sheet on red or
green paper. Use an X-Acto knife to cut three sides of each
calendar square, but don't fold any squares back. Glue around the
outer edges of the blank sheets and place them over the name
sheets. Show the kids how to fold back each window, revealing a
different family to pray for each day in December. cm
Melissa Plowman and Cheryl Stewart are children's ministers in
Wichita Falls, Texas.