As I begin to write this blog, we are exactly three months away from Christmas! It seems like just yesterday that we were gearing up for summer camp, but here we are with October just around the corner. Fall is a great season though! Students have returned to their classes and routines, programs and activities have started and we still can enjoy some warm weather.
The other day, someone sent me a picture of a steaming tea cup with the words “TEA (n.) a hug in a cup”, beside it. Those of you who know me will know that I really do enjoy a cup of hot tea, with perhaps a good book and a blanket. Yes, it’s all about comfort!
In Sunday school we have been looking at Exodus and learning about Moses. Moses was given the great task of leading the Israelites out of Egypt, but felt ill-prepared and not confident for such a job. This was a calling definitely out of his comfort zone. As our children have been learning however, God provided the strength and reassurance that Moses needed. We see examples of God’s power, His instruction, and His love and care for us. Moses and the people saw that they could trust God, that He provided for them and that nothing was too big- not even the Red Sea! God truly is the greatest comforter!
As we begin to enjoy the short fall season, with our sweaters, warm drinks and good food; we can rest in the knowledge that God can and will walk through any circumstance with us.
Tanya Chant, Director of Family & Children's Ministries
“May your faithful love comfort me as you have promised me.” (Psalm 119:76)
“Shout with joy, you heavens! Be glad, you earth! Burst into song, you mountains! The lord will comfort His people. He will show His tender love to those who are suffering.” (Isaiah 49:13)
Two weeks ago in Sunday school, I began the lesson for our grade 1-5 class with a game. To my surprise, a number of the kids started shouting excitedly that we hadn’t shared our weekly news. Each week we always start class by taking turns sharing anything special we’ve done during the week like a sporting event, a special outing, some time with friends, or anything that brought them joy since we last saw them. This sharing then leads into our prayer and praise time.
I was thinking about praise this week and how to describe it to our Sunday school kids - what does it mean to praise God? Growing up in the church I always believed that praise was simply the time we spent singing at the start of service. However, praise is actually anything we do that expresses our appreciation and thankfulness for what God has done. A quick search reveals that “praise” is mentioned about 340 times in the Bible (NIV). Along with love, praise is one of the most frequently used verbs/action words – there must be a message in this. Psalm 145:3 reads, “Lord, you are great. You are really worthy of praise. No one can completely understand how great you are.”
In order for children to understand the significance of praise, they need to know more of who God is. By learning about trials, circumstances, characters and Scripture in the Bible, God’s attributes are revealed. God is loving, forgiving, holy, all-powerful, all knowing, merciful, just, sovereign and everywhere – to name a few. When children have the opportunity to know God, they can see He is worthy of praise! They can also see that God truly wants the best for them, and that He is concerned with every detail of their lives. That’s why we like to start every week with a time of reflection, and praising the great things God has done over the past week - we want to build this behaviour into the lives and routines of our kids. James 1:17 reminds us that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows.”
As Easter approaches, with Palm Sunday this week, we have lots of opportunity for praise and worship. We are coming together as a church community to celebrate the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is through our risen Saviour that we have forgiveness and the assurance of salvation. What greater reason do we have to give praise this Easter!
Tanya Chant, Director of Family & Children's Ministry
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
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