Praying with children and young people
Alex Taylors shares some ideas for praying with children and young people that anyone can try.
On Monday, the Archbishop of Canterbury echoed the Pope’s call for a worldwide day of prayer on Thursday 14th May. Children and young people are as concerned as adults about the impact of the virus on every aspect of life, and so how can we encourage them to pray on Thursday for the world and an end to this crisis?
We’ve gathered together some of our existing resources, as well as including some new ideas that you can try out! Follow the links to the other articles, or give some of these suggestions a go with your children and young people at home
For younger children, bedtime can be a great time to chat with God and connect to him. Sam Donoghue put together some tips for praying at bedtime. Sam has also written about the ancient practice of Lectio Divina. This reflective way of reading the Bible is great for helping children young people connect with God through narrative Bible stories, Psalms, extracts from letters… in fact any biblical genre! And the final piece of our Sam Donoghue trilogy is this article he wrote at the beginning of March on some thoughts about children and prayer.
Meanwhile, Kathryn Kane took some time to think through how we might pray with our families which explores some ideas that are easy to incorporate into your daily life. In a similar vein, Alex Taylor wrote this blog post for Premier Youth and Children’s Work magazine at the start of the lockdown.
Ideas for children
- If you’re able to light candles safely in your home, then get some out and place them somewhere secure but visible in your home. Light them and use them as a spiritual stimulus to focus children’s minds and help them concentrate on chatting with God. Encourage them as they watch the flames of the candles to tell God what they want to say to him. Remind them that they can tell God how they feel about their situation, as well as asking him to resolve this crisis.
- Fill a large glass bowl with water and give everyone some marbles or glass pebbles (the ones sometimes used at the bottom of flower arrangements or in mosaics). Take it in turns to drop the marbles or glass pebbles into the water. As they sink, encourage the children to pray about one thing to do with the pandemic and lockdown – this could be asking God to intervene in the crisis, to help them see where God is at work or for someone they know who is sick. Leave the bowl with some extra marbles or pebbles somewhere obvious (but where it won’t get knocked over) for people to add another prayer to the bowl as they pass by.
Ideas for young people
- In her book, Be Live Pray, Becca Dean, tutor in youth ministry at Ridley Hall, gives many prayer ideas that can be used by young people. One of these is use the book of Psalms as our own prayers. Encourage your young people to choose a psalm and read through it like a prayer – Psalm 23, 27, 44 or 91 are good places to start. Then go on to personalise that psalm as their own prayer.
- Invite your young people to go through some news websites and pull out stories about the pandemic and lockdown that might inspire their prayers. In addition, ask them to look for where God is at work in the crisis – in the acts of generosity, in the commitment of key workers, in the love shown by people, in the fundraising for charity. Print out the headlines and stick them around the house to prompt prayer throughout the day.