Saturday, March 6, 2010

A Child's Prayer

Teaching children to pray is so important. One of the best ways is to model prayer that is reverent, humble, trusting, and penitent. Use the routine of mealtimes and bedtime. When teaching kids to take their requests to God, don't set them up for disappointment. Let them know God hears every prayer, understands their prayers even better than they themselves do, and answers every prayer. As they observe our own patience in prayer, they will begin to understand the peace that comes from submission to God's perfect knowledge and perfect timing.

Sometimes I go overboard on my projects for Children's Moments, and this is one of those times. I made origami books out of pretty wrapping papers with a prayer printed inside on the tiny pages. (The wrapping paper needs to be pretty heavy to feed through the printer; start by cutting 8 1/2 x 11 sheets, then after printing, trim to 8 1/2" square.) Here is the link to the You Tube video for folding instructions: 

You can adapt this project to make it much simpler for your group. Try printing the verse onto photo paper and cutting into bookmarks. Or just enlarge the font enough to print on a separate sheet for each child. You can get beautiful paper in the scrapbooking section of a craft store. Or get post-it printing paper from the office supply store, so they can stick the sheet on the wall beside their beds.

Our Bible verse today says, " Ask, and it shall be given to you;" Matthew 7:7. In this verse, Jesus is telling us two things. First He says, "ask"; He is telling us to pray. Then He says, "it shall be given to you"; He is saying that God answers our prayers. "Ask, and it shall be given to you."

Here is a story about a boy who prayed:

Nick loved basketball. He started playing basketball when he was seven years old. Nick wanted to be a good basketball player like Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan is six feet, six inches tall. Nick wanted to be tall. He prayed, "Father, please make me tall, please make me grow at least six feet tall, so I can be a good basketball player." Nick trusted God to answer his prayer. So he practiced basketball. He played basketball. He listened to his basketball coaches and obeyed them. Nick got better and better at basketball. And he grew taller. By the time he was fifteen years old, Nick was five feet, nine inches tall.

Then one night in a basketball game, Nick rolled his ankle. His mom took him to the doctor the next day. The doctor said, "Nick, your ankle is not broken." That was good news. Then the doctor said, "I can see from your x-ray that you're done growing." That was not good news to Nick. Why not? (because he wanted to keep growing, at least three more inches) He was very sad that he would not be six feet tall like he had prayed. He tried not to cry, but he couldn't help it. Nick's mom asked him why he was so sad. He told her about his prayers to God asking God to make him at least six feet tall. He thought God did not answer his prayer. His mom said, "Nick, God understood your prayer and will answer it in the best way and at the best time for you." Nick was not so sure. He decided to play the rest of the season, but after that, he didn't want to play basketball anymore. Nick's coaches were very unhappy. They wanted Nick on the basketball team.

One year later, after missing a whole season of basketball, Nick changed his mind. He was still only five feet, nine inches tall, but he tried out for the basketball team. He made the team, but did not get to play much. Most of the game, he sat on the bench. Nick wanted to play more, so he worked harder, and practiced a lot, and obeyed his coaches, and Nick got better and better at basketball. After awhile, his coaches let him play more in the games. Then at last, Nick was allowed to be a starter and play almost the whole game for the rest of the season. Nick's team was so good that year, they won their basketball sectional, and their first regional basketball game. They were one of the best teams Boone Grove High School ever had.

Nick thought about how God answered his prayer to be six feet tall. God understood Nick's love for basketball. God knew that Nick didn't need to be six feet tall to be good at basketball. So He just helped Nick become good at basketball. Nick worked as hard as he could, and God did the rest. God made Nick and the other players and the coaches as good as they could be. And God gave them all a great basketball season they will never forget. Nick thanked God for his wonderful season of basketball, and Nick thanked God for a better answer to his prayer than he could ever have hoped for.

God loves you all so much. He wants to hear from you. When you pray to God, you are having a talk with God, and He loves that. You can tell God anything. There is nothing you cannot tell to God. God will hear your every prayer. And God will answer your every prayer in the best possible way for you, because He loves you.

Sometimes, we all have trouble deciding what we want to say to God when we pray. Here is a little book with a good prayer to get you started. It's called "A Child's Prayer", and since we are all God's children, it is a good prayer for all of us. So, let's bow our heads, fold our hands, and close our eyes.

Lord, Teach this little child to pray,
   and then accept my prayer.
For You can hear the words I say,
   for You are everywhere.

A little sparrow cannot fall
   unnoticed, Lord, by Thee.
And though I am so young and small,
   You do take care of me.

Teach me to do the thing that's right,
   and when I sin, forgive.
And make it still my chief delight
   to serve You while I live.

God bless you in your ministry, and God bless the little ones you are teaching.

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