last night our church hosted a night of dedicated prayer to take place in over 40-50 homes all over the city of birmingham. while prayer is probably my weakest spiritual discipline, i was so looking forward to this night for several reasons. the first is that the night was all about prayer; not fellowship and food, which are two things baptist have seemed to master. secondly, these groups were a great mix of people from all ages and walks of life. lastly, the kids weren’t dropped off at a nursery or childcare, they were invited to the night of prayer. it was quite a night. let me just say, we had church!
as a ministry leader, i learned that we are setting the bar too low for kids and prayer. oh i get it and i understand the questions. several people asked me for confirmation that kids were really invited. i immediately exclaimed “yes, we are having church like in Jesus’ day. gather together and hear and seek him and not divide into age groups scattered all over buildings.” then there were those who doubted kids would be able to focus on prayer for a whole hour. to be honest, i wondered that myself. (i don’t sit still well, and let’s just say i may have wiggled more than the kids at my designated home.) and next was the question we all knew was coming (this time from a child, but we can imagine some adults were thinking it, too) “do we have to pray out loud?”
after a solid hour of praising God for who He is, thanking him for all He has done, silent confession, and intercession for others, i was reminded that i would take a house of praying kids over an adult house any day. here are just a couple of things i heard from the mouths of babes:
- “God let the lost look to You and bow down to You.”
- “may the adults in this room be as bold about sharing Jesus as kids are.” (that one stung a little, but i knew it to be true with the crowd of kids that surrounded me in prayer.)
- “thank you for Jesus.” (amen.)
- “thank you for butter.” (i mean really, i loved this and wondered when was the last time i thanked God for butter.)
- “God help me have the courage to share my faith at school even when others make fun of me.”
- “thank you for our sunday school teachers.”
- “thank you for clean water.” (obviously they have been listening, as we partner with countries to bring clean water to those in need.)
- “help me be kind to others even when they are not nice back.”
- prayers for the homeless in need of shelter.
- prayers for our new pastor (we are in the search process) and the search team.
i could go on and on, but hopefully you get the point — the kids got it. one of the sweetest things to hear was the kids continually thanking God for things throughout our prayer time. when we changed gears to confession or intercession, they weren’t bound to only these types of prayers. thanksgiving prayers were still being uttered aloud as people were silently confessing or audibly interceding for others. (“thank you for science. thank you for math.) they knew all things were from Him and came prepared to thank Him. these kids boldly approached the throne of grace and not one (from the smallest preschooler) complained about us praying for a solid hour. one child at another home said at the end of their time that “it just felt like 10 minutes.” again, they get it. doesn’t time spent with someone you love and you know loves you, just fly by?
so as a kidmin leader here are my takeaways.
- prayer shouldn’t just be something we use as a transition pieces in our lesson/classes. prayer can be the lesson.
- we underestimate and often undervalue kids when we limit prayer to a short amount of time because we think kids can’t handle long periods.
- kids pray as Jesus taught, to the point without a lot of show for attention. so, how can we intentionally guide them in more prayer times?
- kid’s get it. they can boldly and transparently lay their requests before a loving Savior. instead of taking so long for prayer requests, why don’t we simply teach them to pray?
- kids are listening to what is being taught. let’s make time for intentional prayer after the lesson and allow kids to talk it over with the Father.
i am done with expecting less of kids because they are younger. really, in my experiences, we should expect more. so no more settling, i am setting the bar high for kids and prayer and i am going to sit back and watch the Lord work.