Kids experience the world in simple yet profound ways — ways that many adults seem to 'forget': play, art, dance, games, touch and laughter. Here are some creative ways to pray with kids and possibly rediscover fresh and new ways to deepen adult prayer!
1. Prayerball: Get a beach ball and, with your child, draw pictures of things to pray for, such as pets, friends, etc. Older kids can write prayer prompts such as friends, family or around the world. Then have a fun prayer time tossing the beach ball to each other and when someone catches the beach ball, they can pray for the picture or word touched by a thumb. Another option is to find a beach ball globe and toss it to each other and pray for the country touched by a thumb.
2. Prayer rocks: Kids love to color and they also love to go on nature hunts, so combine the two! Go on a walk and find rocks of all different shapes and sizes. Then take chalk pens and google eyes and decorate the rocks. Let the kids' creativity take over. Then go on a prayer mission and leave these rocks in public places and pray together for whoever might see this rock. Or even give these prayer rocks to people who need a blessing.
3. Night and morning prayers: Routines are key for children, so build in prayer times in kids' routines. Ask them what they'd like to pray about and listen. This act is a simple yet profound way to learn what is on your kids' minds and hearts.
4. Ambulance prayer: Start a tradition of stopping to pray every time you hear an ambulance, police car or fire truck. Again, make this a normal part of your days and be amazed at how children respond and take the lead.
5. Prayer beads: Children are tactile and prayer beads are not only a great activity to do together but also are something tactile children can carry with them as a prayer reminder. Have fun letting children choose wooden beads and string. Decorate the beads with things they'd like to pray for using paint pens or sharpies. Then let them place the bead chains on their backpacks utilizing a key ring, or make a bracelet or necklace. Children also will love making prayer beads for family and friends to let them know they are praying for them.
Children actually have so much to teach about prayer. They just need to be encouraged to be intentional with the ways they play, create and share.
It is very important to remind children (and ourselves) that there is no 'right way' to pray. Prayer is simply talking to God, the one who loves you the most in this world. Remember, Kids seem to inherently 'get' prayer. Sadly, it seems that adults make prayer complicated. So listen to how kids pray. It is usually simple and yet beautifully honest. And if prayer is 'strange' or you feel awkward praying with your children — be honest. Let them know that prayer is important but kind of intimidating and you want to learn with them!
Tiffany Hollums is an author and clergy in the United Methodist Church. She has over 20 years of youth and/or children ministry experience, as well as, working in an urban ministry and treatment foster care. But the work she is most proud of being a mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend. When she is not crocheting blankets for loved ones as a ministry to those who are hurting or newborns, she can be found writing youth lessons and sipping espresso drinks! She lives in Austin with her husband, daughter, dogs, and family.