Teaching Children to Pray

One of the most profound aspects of helping shape the spiritual lives of children is guiding them in talking to God.

A few years ago I realised that I was not giving proper attention to prayer in my Bible classes.  I found myself sometimes tagging a prayer on at the end instead of taking the time to facilitate an actual connection between the children and the Creator of the Universe.  He has, after all, invited these children into his presence and that is no insignificant thing to be passed quickly over!

Since that time I have used a number of different methods to encourage active prayer.  You can read more at Prayer in Bible Class but I thought I’d just share a few of my favourites here.

Prayer Sticks

Prayer requests written on craft sticks encourage children to pray in this activity.

  • Colorful popsicle sticks over white background (Shallow depth of field)At prayer time guide the children in drawing out the prayer sticks. Each child prays for the request that is written on the stick he or she has drawn.
  • Use this prayer method over a number of weeks. As prayers are answered move the sticks to a different container.
  • From time to time pull the sticks out of the “prayers answered” container and praise God for how he has heard and answered our prayers.

Five Finger Prayer

childs-handChildren pray in their own words for five different groups of people represented by each of their five fingers.

  • Thumb (As it point back at us.  Praying for people who are close to us)
  • Pointer Finger (Praying for those who point the way and lead us)
  • Tall Finger (Praying for people in authority)
  • Ring Finger (The weakest finger.  Praying for people who are weak or vulnerable)
  • Little Finger (Lastly, I will pray for myself)

Paper Chain Prayers

Children write prayer requests on the links of paper chains and then use the chains as prayer reminders.

  • Prayer ChainsGuide the children in writing specific prayer requests on the slips of paper. One prayer request on each piece of paper.
  • Staple or tape the ends of the papers together to form links of a chain.
    Connect the links to from a chain of prayer requests.
  • Children can hang the chains in the room in the classroom and bring them down at prayer time. The leader of the prayer prays for the requests listed on each link.
  • Or send the chains home with children so that they can use them at home and invite their families to pray with them.

 

The Best Gift

My youngest grandson turned four years old this week.  Before opening his gifts there was much curiosity about what was inside each one.  If he had not been such a busy four year old he would probably have guessed what was inside by simply listening to all the clues that were floating around among the grown-ups.

The time of year is fast approaching when many of us wrap up surprises and place them under a Christmas tree to be unwrapped by family and friends.  Aren’t you a little curious about what is inside that package with your name on it?

God so loved the world that he gave us the gift of his Son.  As I was looking over the lesson Prophecies Fulfilled in Jesus I was reminded once again about the number of clues God gave about the coming of the Messiah.

I love talking to children about this!

 

God Kept His Promises!

God sent all of these messages before Jesus was even born. God promised over and over that he would send Jesus. And guess what.

  • Jesus was Abram’s great, great, great…..grandson-just like God had promised.
  • Jesus was a special child born to a special mother. Just like God told Isaiah.
  • Jesus was born in the city of Bethlehem. Just like God told Micah.
  • Mary had a baby and named him Jesus. Just like the angel said.
  • Joseph married Mary and took care of Jesus. Just like the angel told him to.

For help teaching this lesson and links to download the pictures click here.

 

 

Touring Mission Bible Class

Here’s a quick video tour of the features of the Mission Bible Class website.  Please feel free to pass the link on to someone who teaches or wants to teach children about God.

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Booster, Booster!

Snapshot 1 (27-07-2016 11-29 AM)

I’ve just spent the last couple of days uploading some new “old” songs onto www.missionbibleclass.org.  I was reminded again of how songs add a lot of joy to Bible Classes and any gathering of children.

People often tell me about their favourite songs that they sang as a child in Sunday School or with their parents.  I remember long ago singing Booster, Booster Be a Booster like the girls in the video above are singing.  Songs stick!

I’ve been blessed by a lot of people singing songs for the website.  How about having a listen to a few of them.  Perhaps you can sing them with the children in your life.

Click here for Songs for Bible Class

Experiencing God’s Holiness

2016-02-07 09.43.51

What does “holiness” mean to a child who is five years old?  God’s holiness is an extremely important theme running throughout the entire Bible and I believe even very young children can experience how special God is.

I’ve recently had an opportunity to teach in a large room so I decided to dedicate one area of the room as a special place where, each week, we sit for a few minutes and talk about how special God really is.  I’ve loved how this has brought a new depth to what we are learning and I would encourage you to give this a try sometimes.

 

A Holy Space

I didn’t buy anything to set this space up and, with a little imagination, you will be able to find “special” items of your own.  I drug in a coffee table from another room.  I covered it with some shiny wrapping paper and placed chairs around it.  Draping some old sheets and fabric over a room divider formed a small “wall” to make the space cozy.  Someone had left some “gold” Christmas tree garland in our supply room so I thought that would add to the feeling of grandeur.  A paper crown on a purple pillow emphasized the Kingship of God since we were studying the Divided Kingdom and the End of the Kingdom.

Even though these were not expensive items I can tell you that the children were in awe of the space.  On a side note it occurred to me that the Temple that Solomon built was dripping with gold and precious cloths in a way that left everyone awestruck.  But, in reality, gold and expensive items are actually worthless in comparison to God’s true worth.  Perhaps we adults aren’t all that sophisticated after all.

 

A Holy Attitude

When we sit at the table in this space it is a “set apart” time from the rest of the class period.  At other times we might play games and sing action songs and act out the story. There are many ways to glorify God. But, when we go and sit in our holy space we speak more quietly and we all reflect in awe and reverence about God.

 

A Holy Conversation

This is a 5 minute devotional time that is not limited to the lesson we are studying for the day.  Everything we talk about in this space relates to how special God is.  He is approachable but He is different than us.  In a child’s eyes this space is very special and it is a great launching place to talk about how God is even more special than our idea of precious things.

Each week I try to cover a different aspect of God’s holiness and how this has been shown in Scripture.  This is not the time to tell another Bible story or try to explain complex topics.  I want the children’s minds to be fully on God so I talk about concepts they can easily grasp.  I try my best to use illustrations to depict these things. For instance, the illustrations below are from www.freebibleimages.org

  • The Tabernacle
  • The Temple
  • The Word of God-  We open our Bibles and read a verse about God (or they follow along as I read).

Moses_Tabernacle_JPEG_1024  Solomon_Temple_JPEG_1024

 

New Depths

This experience has brought a new depth to the lessons I’ve been teaching.  The children have really picked up on the fact that sin is not just “bad behaviour” it is a real offence against who God is.  I’ve been amazed at how often the children have referenced God’s holiness as we study other lessons.

  • When we talked about idols being erected and even brought into the temple the children were disgusted.  They understood why King Josiah destoyed idols and places of false worship.  “Don’t those people know how much more special God is than statues?”
  • When we learned about the prophet Jeremiah visiting the potter’s house and hearing God warn about turning away from him the children understood why God was angry.  The kings were not treating him in the way he deserved.
  • We learned about how Jeremiah dictated God’s Message onto a scroll.  As King Jehoiakim listened to the words he cut off pieces of the scroll and threw them into a fire piece by piece. When I mentioned that King Jehoiakim was making a huge mistake one of the children corrected me, “No! the king knew God’s words were special.  He did not make a mistake, he did it on purpose!”
  • Before being led off into Exile the Temple of God was destroyed.  The students in my class were so sad to hear this.  They understood how serious this was to God.

 

 

How About Making Your Own Temporary Tabernacle?

I was blessed with a room large enough to create a separate space but you could create a special space almost anywhere.  Put your “special” items in a basket and lay out the items when it comes time to have your devotional.  After all, this is exactly what was done with The Tabernacle.  It was set up and taken down wherever the Israelites camped.