Teaching children about prayer is important as they grow in their knowledge and understanding of God. Prayer is communicating or just talking with God, and through prayer we can meet God and share our thoughts, feelings, praises and requests.
For the spring quarter in Sunday school we are bringing back our prayer wall. In the past we have used this space as an opportunity to engage our children in learning about prayer. Each week we share any news and then we draw or print any prayer requests and attach them to our prayer wall. It has been a great way to talk about prayer and have the children involved. They get to see our prayer wall grow each week with messages of thankfulness, notes of praise and requests for help. Even our teachers add to the wall. It’s good for children to see prayer modelled and to see others participating. We regularly check back to see which prayers God has answered and celebrate His faithfulness.
Some other ideas I have come across or used in teaching are:
- Keeping a prayer journal. We have used this one in Sunday school when one of our teachers started it for our grade 1-5 class.
- The ‘five finger prayer’ – There are a number of variations, but essentially each finger represents something to pray for.
- Using verses or passages of scripture in prayer.
- Singing part of a song in prayer.
- Prayer prompts or prayer starters for younger children are a great way to help them get started.
- Popcorn prayers- Everyone just says their prayer request or praise out loud.
My hope is that children learn that God is near and that He cares about the details of their lives. They can talk to Him at anytime and anywhere. Whether it is a quick prayer in the car, a prayer about something in the school yard or prayer around the dinner table- God wants to hear from us!
Here are some wonderful verses about prayer that I had to include:
And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
1 John 5:14
Pray without ceasing. Thessalonians 5:17
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has power as it is working. James 5:16
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2
And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith. Matthew 21:22
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God. Philippians 4:6
Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26
What are some of the ways you pray or talk with God? I'd love to hear about them.
Tanya Chant, Family and Children's Director
A few months ago, Pastor Aaron got us to do a little exercise before his message. He asked us to draw an X-axis and a Y-axis on a sheet of paper, and "plot out" our journey with God over the last year - all the highs and lows. So, I sat there with my little sheet of paper thinking about the past few months and marking down a visual representation of my walk with God.
Some dots were low on my chart - times if difficulty and uncertainty. Some were way up there - times of blessing and seeing prayers answered.
And as I took a moment to look over my work - the mountain tops and valleys my "God walk" chart showed - I realized this chart had everything to do with me, and very little to do with God.
What I mean is, this jagged line was my experience of nearness to God, but if I drew a chart of God's closeness to me during this time, we'd be look at a straight line right across the top. No dips, no valleys, just a steady love and constant nearness.
We're just coming out of Valentine’s Day, and every year when it rolls around I'm challenged in my understanding of what love is, and what love looks like.
Really, what does love look like?
We know that love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.
Often, though, I equate God's love with this broken thing that I try to muster up. Which is why I need to be reminded of these words that talk about what God's love is, and what it isn't:
Your love's not fractured, it's not a troubled mind
It isn't anxious
It's not the restless kind
Your love's not passive
It's never disengaged
It's always present
It hangs on every word we say
Love keeps its promises
It keeps its word
It honours what's sacred
Cause its vows are good
Your love's not broken
It's not insecure
Your love's not selfish
Your love is pure*
I have to keep reminding myself of who God is apart from my experience, because my experience so often clouds the truth. God is patient, He is kind...
So wherever you are in your walk with God –– whether your strolling side by side or just struggling to hold on ––
Know that He is near, and His love is constant.
Jolene Sanders, Worship Director
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him
should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
*Pieces, by Amanda Cook
Recently I listened to a very engaging podcast about something called The Curse of Knowledge. Have you heard that term? The curse of knowledge occurs when we assume that the person we’re speaking with has the background or the context to understand the content of what we’re saying. They might understand the words that are spoken but are missing information to make it relevant and meaningful.
How does the curse of knowledge manifest itself in church life?
A guest arrives for the first time with kids in tow. Where do they go? Where do their kids go, and when?
The curse of knowledge is that I know where to go, and how to check my kids into the program. If I’m a bit late, I don’t worry — the doors will still be open, and the kids don’t actually start their program until 10:15.
We all know that.
The kids are dismissed for their program downstairs. A newcomer wonders what is ‘downstairs’, and when will they get their kids back?
The curse of knowledge is that I have seen the classrooms and I have met all the teachers. I know they are trained and amazing, and that my kids will be waiting to be picked up after the service.
We all know that.
Communion is set at the front of the church; will I have to walk up and get it or will it be delivered and, if so, do I take it right away or do I hang onto it?
The curse of knowledge is that we celebrate communion every month, and there is rarely any variance in how we do it. They pray and pass the plates, while I sit and receive.
We all know that.
Every time you find yourself saying, “We all know that!”, the curse of knowledge is rearing its ugly head. And to guests, the curse of knowledge can be awkward, ambiguous, confusing, and unwelcoming.
One of the many things I love about our Frontline Ministry team is that they help to break the curse of knowledge by keeping an eye out for guests and helping them to pre-navigate any obstacles.
You came alone and don’t know where to sit? No problem! Let me get you settled near someone who I know to be friendly. Heck, you can even sit with me!
You brought kids? They’ll love it here! Let’s go to the welcome centre and get them registered, then we’ll give you a quick tour of the kids min area. Maybe introduce you to Tanya, the best Children’s Director ever.
You came early to get the lay of the land? So glad you did! Have a cup of coffee or tea, and let me introduce you to a few people.
You came late because you're feeling nervous and unsure? We understand, and we’re watching for the rules of engagement so that we don’t overwhelm you.
Isn’t it great that we have a team of ushers, greeters and welcome centre people who can help overcome the curse of knowledge?
Well, I have a secret to tell you…
You don’t have to serve in an official capacity in order to fight the curse.
That's right, each one of us can play a vital role in the guest experience by keeping your eyes open, being available, and modelling for them what a typical Sunday looks like.
So write your name on the friendship clip. Pour yourself a coffee. Introduce your kids to their kids so they can be dismissed together to their class. If you are a Sunday School teacher, introduce yourself to the parents even if you’re not serving that particular Sunday. The next time they come you might be serving, and how awesome it will be when the kids have already met you!
The curse of knowledge is inevitable to some degree, but we can all play a part in breaking down barriers and helping our guests feel welcomed, loved, and in-the-know.
See you Sunday! The service starts at 10am and free coffee is served at 9:30am. We all know that...
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