Each month before I write PL Chatter I pray for God to give me words to share with you all. I am not a writer and it is painful for me to do it. As always, God is faithful and gave me this article from a book I am reading on Teaching Children to Pray by Thomas Ewald and Rachel Peterson. I thought it might be helpful in light of the fact we as a church are studying prayer together.
Parents As Teachers
Luke 6:43 teaches us that ‘No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.’ For that reason, parents seek to provide their children with the right schools, role models, and experiences. But before parents can instill meaningful prayer habits into their children, they must look first at the type of example they offer their children. This does not mean that parents who feel they would be poor teachers, for whatever reason, ought to abdicate the responsibility to others. Rather, they should embrace the opportunity to grow in their own spiritual lives and to play an instrumental part in the spiritual growth of their children.
Parents striving to raise prayerful children may want to ask themselves whether their own prayer life resembles one they would want for their children. No parent wants to simply train his or her child in empty ritual, but most parents would be comforted by the knowledge that their child was aware of and able to make use of the benefits of prayer. So if parents are unhappy with the quality of their own prayer life, they need to ask themselves how their prayer life can be made more dynamic and real. Ironically, the key is to think and act as a child would before God. Jesus told his disciples, ‘Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’ (Matthew 18:3) If you were to speak to God as a child, would you stand before him reciting a memorized prayer, or would you be candid and inquisitive? Parents are sometimes embarrassed by what their children say to relatives and strangers. Their children’s words, though honest, seem blunt or impolite. God, however, desires our honesty, our candor. He knows our hearts completely (Psalm 139), so formality in private prayer is pointless.
Additionally, parents need to ask themselves whether prayer is something they are able to commit to modeling for their children. Children see parents as invincible, and thus parents sometimes hide their vulnerabilities in an effort to protect their children. When Jesus came to save the world, he came not as a great warrior but as a common man. Our Savior was not afraid to let himself be seen crying and lifting his concerns to God in prayer. Matthew writes of Jesus in the Garden agonizing over the betrayal, trial, and execution to come. Jesus told the disciples with him that his soul was ‘overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death’ and asked them to stay with him. Jesus then prayed to God to take the awesome responsibility away from him if it was his will while at the same time pledging his obedience if it was not (Matthew 26:36-42).
Jesus had no problem showing his fear. Nor did he hesitate to bring it to God. Why should we be any different? Christ was a great advocate and teacher of prayer. So must parents be for the sake of their children.
Kids in the 3-5yr room will hear stories of Jesus’ unconditional love for everyone, including them, through the stories of Jesus welcoming the little children, Jesus healing two blind men, and the Good Samaritan.
In February the K-1st grade room will continue to Look at the Pieces by focusing on the miracles Jesus did early on in His ministry. Through the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000, children will learn Jesus can use and bless whatever they give to Him—their time, money, or things they are good at. Then kids will hear about the time when Jesus and Peter walked on the water. This story will help them understand Jesus is always with them so rather than ‘sinking into fear,’ they can turn to Jesus and trust Him when they are afraid. The next story is of Jesus healing the paralytic man whose friends lowered him to Jesus through the roof. Kids will learn Jesus wants them to tell others about Him, and they will spend time talking about how to invite their friends to come to church with them. Kids will then hear about the miracle Jesus did when He healed ten people with leprosy. They will learn only one of the ten said ‘thank you’ to Jesus, and will talk about the fact that Jesus is good and they can be thankful. Finally, we will review all the stories from this quarter and even a few from the Fall, and remind them that God wants them to be part of his amazing story.
The 2nd-3rd graders are taking a trip on Mission Unstoppable to learn Jesus had an unstoppable mission to save the world. Kids will learn the disciples carried on this mission by telling others about Jesus, and if they become followers of Jesus, they can still carry on Jesus’ mission today. This unit is based on Mission: Impossible, with codes to crack and missions to accomplish. It begins with Jesus calling the twelve disciples, followed by a look at Jesus’ love, Jesus’ power, and the importance of prayer.
4th and 5th graders are focusing on the teachings of Jesus through parables. The Parable of the Wedding Feast teaches humility. The Parable of the Rich Fool teaches about greed. The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Men teaches the wisdom of building our lives on Jesus’ teaching. The Parable of the Lost Son teaches the wonder of God’s unconditional love, grace, and forgiveness. Each of these parables becomes relevant to the kids today as they are presented in modern day scenarios.
May God bless your families this month,