My congregation is embarking on growing as a house of prayer. We’ve studied the subject and concluded it involves more than having a prayer meeting. It encompasses establishing a culture of prayer. Toward that end I am holding our first Prayer Training Module during the spring quarter of our Christian Education Hour. I plan to disciple 12 people in prayer through instruction (using my booklet, Why Do We Pray?) and practice (including kingdom prayer).
As part of this house of prayer building project, I am also instructing the children of our church in prayer. Last Sunday, three of the kids’ classes made a “field trip” to my office, accompanied by their teachers. Parents were invited.
I began the discussion for each group by posing the question, “What is prayer?” The uniform answer was “talking to God.” From that I showed them that as they look their parents in the eye when they talk to them, so they want to make eye contact with Jesus (see my adult article here). How they do that is by knowing He is present with them and by bringing to mind something they know about Jesus.
We moved on to the risky area of talking about the current prayer practices in their homes. Most kids mentioned prayer before meals and/or before bed. We touched on these but I would have like to explore more what this looked like from the perspective of the kids.
Then I brought to bear the familiar acrostic A-C-T-S. The children’s teacher wrote the letters on a white board while I explained. I explained Adoration in terms of telling Jesus how great He is. Some of the kids put it in terms of loving Jesus. I readily agreed, but emphasized their need to tell Him that. We looked at Psalm 18:1 as example.
Next, we sorted out what it means to Confess and gave some examples of sin in their lives (I did not discover any 6-year-old serial killers, although unguarded cookies might be in danger.) We agreed that confession involved telling God about the wrong things we do. But we didn’t stop at the wrong. Our dealing with confession ended up at the cross.
The “T” led us to talk about Thanksgiving. Here we opened the floor to things that they complain about, such as their hard-wired sense of fairness in respect to siblings. Cookie size fit the bill. We looked at being thankful for what they had and even (to their hush and horror) being thankful their sibling got a larger cookie. I likened life to a treasure chest of God’s blessings that we need to note and give thanks to God. Listing things to be thankful for picked up momentum. Among the items was a “roof.” Why? To keep them from getting wet.
Supplication, the “S” of A-C-T-S, drew a blank, which was just as well because I wanted to develop that in practical terms anyway. The kids resonated with the word “ask.”
Under asking I gave them another acrostic: P-R-A-Y. Here we explored four areas for prayer: Parents–Relatives (aunts and grandparents made the cut, but no child mentioned brother or sister)-Amigos (I credit Sesame Street for making the kids bilingual for this one)-Yourself. We explored some things they could pray for each of these areas. I tried to expand their thinking beyond physical things to such topics as the lonely girl on the playground or their own struggles.
It’s hard to say how successful these tutorials were. But it started the conversation and laid the groundwork that can be built on. As with us adults, continued attention is required.