“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16, NIV).
How Kids Think
Kids wonder, “Will God really answer my prayers?” Some children think that God is too big or too busy to hear their requests. Others feel awkward or unworthy to speak with Him. Still others stop praying after a request is not granted. Children need to see examples of persistent prayer, hear testimonies about God’s answers, and to realize that God may respond with “Yes,” “No,” or “Maybe.” With proper guidance and modeling, children can learn to pray boldly from a heart of faith.
God created people to enjoy unbroken communion with Him. The Lord speaks to us via the Scriptures—and we respond to Him via prayer. God yearns to hear from His children! Prayer can be as natural as eating and sleeping—an essential component of an ongoing friendship with the Lord. Prayers of praise, repentance, supplication, and thankfulness are all part of a healthy prayer life. Jesus urges His followers, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)
After homeschooling Gabriel for three years, Ron and Carrie decided to enroll their son in public school. As the “new kid” in 4th grade, Gabe didn’t really know what to expect. After a couple of weeks, he began asking his parents why Joelle, one of the girls in his class, was calling him names and making fun of him. He wanted to know why Joelle was so cruel. Ron told Gabriel, “We don’t know what kind of home she lives in and maybe she is mistreated before coming to school.”
Several mornings on the way to school, Gabe’s dad talked with him about positive ways to respond to the name-calling and humiliating comments. He suggested that Gabe try something radical the next time, “Tell Joelle that there is a God who loves her and thinks she is a special person.” Needless to say, Gabe was not enthusiastic about that approach—he didn’t think it would work. Each morning Gabe and Dad prayed about the situation as they drove to school.
A week later, Gabe came home and told his parents that Joelle started making fun of him and told other kids to laugh at him. Gabe, normally the tough guy, cried—which egged his classmates to jeer even more. In desperation, Gabe prayed at his desk and asked God to give him courage. When he finished praying, Gabe went to Joelle and said, “You know what? There is a God who loves you and thinks you are a special person. He sent His son, Jesus, to earth to die for your sins and you have no idea how much He could do for you, if you would just let Him.”
Upon hearing the story, Ron and Carrie were amazed! His parents asked how she treated him the rest of the day. Gabe rolled his eyes and said, “Like I was her very best friend.” The next day, Joelle was up to her old tricks. She told Gabe that God is just a made up Person. Gabriel responded by saying, “It doesn’t matter if you believe in Him or not, He still loves you.” The following day, Joelle was unusually quiet. At the end of the day she approached Gabriel and said, “I’ve been thinking a lot about what you said about God and I want you to know that I do believe in Him.” Gabe’s desperate prayer for courage brought amazing fruit!
When I was in college, my mother and I read through a book of stories about radical lives of faith. One particular testimony stood out to us.
Bob, an insurance salesman from Washington D.C. experienced the power of prayer in a radical way. He read Jesus’ promise, “Ask whatever you will in My name and it will be given to you” (John 14:14). In an unusual exchange with his pastor, Bob agree to pray for something every day for 6 months. If nothing happened, Pastor Doug would give him $500. If something DID happen, Bob would give the pastor $500. Bob chose to pray for the entire country of Kenya. Not because of a personal connection…just because.
For some time, nothing significant happened. Then, at a dinner in Washington D.C., Bob met a woman who ran the largest orphanage in Kenya. Bob got excited. After explaining about his challenge to pray for Kenya, the woman invited him to come and visit the orphanage. During his visit, Bob got the idea to organize a drive for medical resources for this orphanage. The drive quickly raised more than $1,000,000 worth of materials that were delivered to the orphanage.
While attending the celebration event at the orphanage, Bob, an ordinary insurance salesman, met the president of Kenya. As a direct result, Bob also became involved in the release of U.S. political prisoners. Bob was also invited to pray for the president while he selected his new cabinet. Needless to say, Bob was pleased to award Pastor Doug $500. [To read the whole story, see: If you Want to Walk on Water, You Have to Get Out of the Boat, John Ortberg (pages 91-93.]
This story stirred my mother and me to try a similar experiment. We both decided to pray for specific people for six months. I chose to pray for a friend who I had a hard time dealing with. Though she had hurt me, I still wanted good things for her. I prayed persistently for three things. After six months, I noticed that my heart changed drastically towards her —the bitterness dissolved. I also realized that I didn’t worry anymore about her role in my life. I had released the situation to God. As the six-month challenge ended, I was content. God moved in my heart and I know that He had answered my prayers.
A couple of years went by. I moved away for work and lost touch with my friend. In faith I believed that God had moved, and because I had seen so much change in my own heart, I guessed that the Lord must have helped my friend as well. More than two years later, I ran across her. We wrote emails back and forth, just to catch up on major events. The letter I received was split into three sections. Each paragraph addressed the things I had been praying for—almost verbatim. In those three areas, God had provided in miraculous and ordinary ways. All three areas had changed drastically during those years.
After crying through the whole letter, I was touched by the Lord’s kindness. I could have gone through my whole life just believing in faith that God had moved. After seeing the Lord’s faithfulness, it stirred me to pray even more!
What You Can Do
Pray together with your child. Look for opportunities from the time you awaken in the morning until you tuck him/her in bed at night. Practice using the “H-E-A-R-T” acrostic:
Honor God with praise and respect.
“Thank you, God, for being ________ and giving me ________.”
Examine your life, confessing any sins.
“Please forgive me for being selfish and ___________.”
Ask God to supply your personal needs.
“God, help me ___________ and please _________.”
Request God’s help for the needs of others.
“God, would you help out _________ with _________.”
Thank God for blessing you every day.
“God, I am so thankful for ____________.”
Your prayers are the biggest weapon you have to protect and raise up a godly child. Pray For Your Children: A Free Download →
Discipleship Begins With Our Children
Children need meaningful, shared-life relationships. That’s the heart of discipleship. DiscipleLand’s family of Biblical resources forms a complete Children’s Discipleship System™ – an intentional, relational, and transformational process designed to help children know God intimately, love Him passionately, and to serve Him selflessly. Click here for your Free Catalog
Learn more by clicking on the following:
• Nursery and Toddler
• Kids Church
• Free Catalog