It’s giveaway week for my Kids and Prayer DVD, a fun & creative resource in which I host four kid-friendly episodes about the basics of prayer. A $50 value, free for your home or church library! Enter to win by sending me an email with the subject “Prayer DVD” by Sunday May 28.
But adding this DVD to your library isn’t my goal. My goal is to encourage you to use Kids and Prayer — with the young people in your life, even with the adults in your life.
If you’re responsible for developing a Vacation Bible School (VBS) program or similar weeklong experience for children this summer, for example, you can put Kids and Prayer to use in creating a VBS program on prayer. Here’s an outline of ideas to jumpstart your brainstorming:
- First night, start with songs: motion songs, loud songs, silly songs, Jesus songs. Consider teaching a song like “Standing in the Need of Prayer.” Show the first Kids and Prayer episode, “What Is Prayer?” Depending on attendance and volunteers, use a rotation of storytelling, prayer-practicing, and hands-on stations to emphasize prayer: tell the story of Hannah who was diligent in prayer and wasn’t afraid to be honest & cry to God when she prayed (or talk more about the Bible story shared in the video); teach a memorize-able prayer, such as a few verses of a psalm or part of the Lord’s Prayer; trace hands on construction paper that children can wave to say “It’s me! It’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.” It’s also important to encourage kids to use their own words in prayer — in addition to memorized prayers and verses and songs — so include time for kids to say their own prayers using a prompt from Writing to God: Kids’ Edition.
- Second night, keep singing! The song “Kumbayah” provides a helpful reminder of the purpose of prayer — asking God to “Come by here,” to listen to and look at life together. Show the second Kids and Prayer episode, “Why Do We Pray?” Have the kids retell the Bible story in the episode, or read the story of Mary’s Magnificat celebrating all of the great things God has done. Play a game of “Telephone” to emphasize the importance of listening to one another and to assure kids that God hears us more clearly than the “Can you hear me know?” Verizon guy. Don’t forget to include time for kids to pray with their own words.
- Songs for the third night: test your group’s ability with rounds, call-and-response, and remove-a-word songs. The purpose? Prayer, just like songs, can take many different forms! Show the third episode, “How Do We Pray?” Spend time with clay to teach that prayer doesn’t need to be perfect and no two prayers will look alike. Read/teach examples of psalms that have very different moods: thankful psalms, sad psalms, grumpy psalms, amazed psalms. Play multiple versions of tag — just because it’s the third night and the kids’ energy is still high while your volunteers are starting to sag. Have kids practice different types of prayers (praise, confession, thanksgiving, etc.) in their own words.
- Fourth night, sing songs about places to partner with the theme of the fourth episode, “Where Do We Pray?” Can we pray in a little cabin in the woods, where a little man by the window stood & saw a rabbit hopping by? Can we pray in the kitchen where someone stole a cookie from the cookie jar? You get the idea. In addition to the Bible story in the DVD episode, tell stories of Jesus’ friends praying in a boat and on a mountain and in a garden. Draw pictures or build popsicle stick structures of kids’ favorite places to pray. Actually go into the church’s sanctuary for kids to say their own prayers for the evening.
- Fifth night’s goals: recap the four prayer themes and send everyone home on a sugar high. Watch all four episodes again, if you’d like. Sing all the favorite songs of the week. Add in “Peace Like a River” with motions. Ask kids to practice praying for someone who’s part of your program — not just for other kids, but for grownups and youth volunteers too (who should also practice this exercise of praying for someone else). Decorate prayer jars to take home, encouraging kids to write down one thing/person/experience each day that they want God to pay special attention to. Craft microphones out of styrofoam balls, paper cones and a heap of glitter to remind everyone that God hears them no matter what — with or without amplification.
Check out other ideas on my blog this week for summer program ideas about prayer, but for now be sure to enter this week’s drawing for a free copy of the Kids and Prayer DVD! All you need to do is drop me an email with the subject “Prayer DVD” and I’ll put your name in the hat. The drawing will be held at 5:00pm eastern on Sunday, May 28.