This summer I started bringing my girls to prayer meeting at our church. While this ministry of our church has been in place since its foundation in the mid-1970’s it is not our best attended service. I haven’t attended very often because of my girls’ ages. I was so afraid they would be a distraction to all the other adults. I used to meet with a friend to pray once a week in the morning, but when I started homeschooling this wasn’t as practical. I was
whining lamenting that I didn’t participate in prayer meeting to my husband-pastor whose response was a raised eyebrow and a question:
What don’t you just bring them?
My eloquent response? Ummmm…I have no idea. I listed several reasons including their ages, their destractibility quotient, the later time in the evening, and some others I don’t quite remember. He said it was up to me, but his opinion was it was fine. My husband has always encouraged families to attend all of our services together. We do have an optional children’s church for the young elementary students, but by 3rd grade the kids are worshiping with their families and many choose to keep their children in the service rather than attend children’s church. You see, he loves children and loves families coming together. He does not support the idea of separating generations for services no matter how large the congregation and encourages the mingling of all ages.
So ever since this summer they have been coming to prayer meeting each week. I was surprised to find out after a few weeks they actually enjoyed going! They stay with the adults for the short Bible study and discussion my husband leads. Then I take them to the library which is in the sanctuary where we have our own prayer time. This way I can teach them how to pray and help them become comfortable praying with others without the pressure of the other adults. I want them to be in the habit of praying corporately. I want them to know why we pray. I want them to move beyond their meal-time and bedtime prayers and think about conversing with God at other times as well.
If you ask a child to pray for something they often may not know where to start. I use praise pails and prayer folders to help them get started. The praise pails are something I came up with on a whim and the girls love them! Several decorated boxes with handles have craft sticks sticking out of them. Each stick has been the tip colored to correspond with a different thing to praise God for which is written on a poster and hung on the wall. They choose a stick and praise God for something which fits into the category. Some of these include family, friends, God’s creation, and our church. I also give the girls the option of praying aloud or silently although I love it when they pray aloud!
Our prayer folders are the kind you buy from the office store for $0.10 during the beginning of the year school supply sales. I put a variety of colored paper inside and the girls wrote a different topic at the top of each page. Some of these pages include themselves, family, friends, people who don’t know Jesus, our government, school, and missionaries. This has been a great way to help them diversify they’re prayers and teach them God cares about all areas of our life and world. I let the girls decorate their folders on the outside and also write down things to pray for in each category on their own. We add to it now and then, but usually we just go through and pray for names and things already written down.
Praying with my girls has been a great blessing, but I can’t say I was expecting it to be so in the beginning. Even on nights when I’m very tired and worn out from the day I leave prayer meeting feeling refreshed. The simplicity and honesty my girls pray with makes me feel even closer to God. They don’t worry about how they sound or who might be listening because they haven’t learned to feel that way yet. My biggest hope is as they grow up and become young women on their own they will have a desire to gather with other believers and pray.
I cannot help but feel we are headed towards a period of trial for believers in our country. I don’t think it will include physical persecution as we see in many countries, but I will not be surprised if standing firm on the teaching of Scripture will include financial persecution and possibly other things. It is becoming more difficult to stand for what God says is right as our society drifts farther and farther away from absolute truth. My oldest two girls have already made the decision to follow Jesus as their Savior and now my husband and I are charged with their discipleship and spiritual growth. I take my job discipling my girls very seriously and realize I must prepare them for a world growing increasingly hostile towards believers.