I think it’s pretty safe to say that prayer and worship are two of the most important spiritual skills that we can teach our children. I am by no means an expert on the subject and have had my fair share of bedtime fights over trying to get my kids to pray with me. But, this is exactly why I get excited about any little tools that can help me get my kids engaged in prayer and worship. I know there are a lot of really amazing, creative ideas out there (if you know of any, please share them with me!), so this is just one more you can add to your repertoire. I also can’t really take much credit myself for what I’m about to share with you, as this idea was inspired by the amazing woman (Pam) who leads the children’s ministry at our house of prayer.
If you are at all familiar with the model of prayer that is used at the International House of Prayer and many other houses of prayer (including our own), you’ll know that it is referred to as “harp and bowl“. This term comes from the following verse in Revelation 5:8, which says, “Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” The very basic thing we can learn and draw from this passage is that in God’s throne room in heaven, there is worship (harps) and prayer (bowls of incense) being offered up to Him, unceasingly. This provides the basic structure of combining worship and prayer together in our prayer meetings, which helps us to focus both on adoring God and on presenting requests for the needs of people.
As a visual aid, Pam had created little flames (representing the incense of their prayers) for the kids to write their prayers on and then they all threw them in a big yellow bowl that she had. I wanted to implement this idea at home, so I changed it up a bit and took it further. I made several little flames and then had them laminated so that they could be easily reused. I then created similar laminated musical notes for us to write words of worship and thanksgiving to God. Then, I created a large poster (also laminated) with images of golden bowls and harps for my kids to stick their flames and musical notes on. You can read Revelation 4 & 5 to your kids and have some fun describing and imagining what the throne room looks like together and explain to them what all these things symbolize. My kids (ages 4 and almost 3) love it and it has been really helpful for us to get them to focus on saying a prayer or being thankful for something. We write it for them using a whiteboard marker and then let them stick it on the poster with sticky tack.
If you want to take it a bit further, you can put on some music or play your own instruments and sing some worship songs together. My husband plays guitar and I play piano, so sometimes one of us will play our instrument while the other writes out their prayers and worship. The kids also like to play their drums, xylophone, tambourine, shakers, etc. or just dance around the room to the song. We’ll sing a worship song and then get them share their item of worship (what they like/love about God/Jesus) or thankfulness. We happen to have a little karaoke machine with a microphone that also makes it fun for them to pray into. Then, we’ll make up a short little spontaneous song that we can all sing together from what they shared. For example, one of the musical notes in the picture above says, “Thank you for joy”, so we’ll make up a simple one-line song like, “Thank you Jesus for your joy, you make us happy” and we sing it 8-10 times before moving on. A lot of the time my kids don’t actually sing along, but it’s reinforcing it in their hearts and minds by using music and they have fun!
Next, you can do the same thing for the prayers. You can sing a worship song and then ask your kids to pray for something – a friend, family member, nation, etc. – and write it on their flame. As you can see in the picture above, we also have pictures of our family, our sponsored Compassion children and some inner-city children that we can pray for. Some of the art above the poster are my kids’ interpretations of the throne room. Then sing a spontaneous song and encourage them to sing along. Again, for an example from my picture above of a prayer, “Jesus, help mommies to have their babies”, I might sing something simple like, “Help mommies to love their babies, give them life”. If you don’t play an instrument, you can use some instrumental music that you can sing to – there are actually some albums created exactly for this purpose with simple music that is designed for creating these spontaneous songs to. (You can also see in the picture above that I made simple envelopes to hold the extra flames and musical notes, as well as a little holder for the whiteboard marker – nice and high out of the kids’ reach)
Another way I’m thinking of using these is printing some of the flames and notes and writing their prayers and worship/thankfulness on them and gluing them in a journal to have a permanent record of things they’ve prayed for, with the date, so we can look back on them and also note answered prayers.
So, I hope you find this idea helpful or maybe it will spark another new and better idea that you can create to use with your kids! For all of the image files, as well as links to some instrumental music that you can use, visit my Resources page.
Do you have any fun, creative things you’ve used to help your kids engage in prayer and worship? Share them in the comments!