Prayer and Celebration Collection

Prayer and Celebration

The patterns of prayer and celebration in the home add to the richness of children’s experience of faith – here are some ways you can deepen the lived practices of a faithful life at home.

Squeezy Prayers

One way to pray is to use "squeezy prayers" Everyone holds hands in a circle. An adult will begin the prayer. When they have finished they squeeze the persons hand next to them to show it is their turn. They may pray out loud, or silently, or may squeeze on to the next person.  When the squeeze has reached the starting person they may say another closing prayer or just say Amen.

Here are suggestions for ways of using the squeezy prayer:

Using a squeezy prayer ask God for something that is needed in the world…like peace, or understanding or for help in a particular problem in the world.
Using a squeezy prayer say thank you for a good friend or friends. Say them by name and even say something you like about them.
Using a squeezy prayer say thank you for something that you are good at. A gift God has given you.
Make and Memorise

This week learn a prayer off by heart, together. Write or find a prayer that you can use with your family every night at mealtimes and family sharing times. Make it an activity that you do together. The prayer does not have to be complicated, but simple enough for everyone to remember. It might include some lines of thanks or praise or asking. Supplied here are a few prayers that you could start from or use. If your family does not know the Lord’s Prayer it would be a fantastic time to learn it together.

Here are some prayers you might like to learn together:

Lord, behold our family here assembled.
We thank you for this place, in which we dwell,
For the love that unites us,
For the peace accorded to us this day,
For the hope with which we expect the morrow;
For the health, the work, the food and the bright skies
That make our lives delightful;
For our friends in all parts of the earth.
-- Robert Louis Stevenson

  God made us a family.
            We need one another.
            We love one another.
            We forgive one another.
            We work together.
            We play together.
            We worship together.
            Together we use God's word.
            Together we grow in Christ.
            Together we love all people.
            Together we serve our God.
            Together we hope for heaven.
            These are our hopes and ideals.
            Help us to attain them,
            O God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Taken from "Favorite Catholic Prayers" Prayer Book

Dear God,
Thank you for your love and care.
Thank you for the food we share.
Help us show your love today.
In all we do and think and say.
In Jesus name we pray.  Amen.         

For food in a world where many walk in hunger;
For faith in a world where many walk in fear;
For friends in a world where many walk alone;
We give you thanks, O Lord. Amen.
(Source: Huron Hunger Fund, Anglican Church of Canada)

Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you for all the benefits you have won for us, for all the pains and insults you have borne for us.  Most merciful redeemer, friend and brother, may we know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day. 
St Richard of Chichester [1197-1253]

Thank You Board
It is easy for children and adults to get into a rut of praying for the same things every night or week. One way of avoiding this is to create a thank you board. This could be a small white board or piece of cardboard. Each time you pray together encourage your children to think of three things they are grateful or want to thank God for. Write them on post it notes and stick them to the board. The next time you come to pray tell your family to give thanks for three things that are not on the board. In this way the imagination is expanded and we come to realise there is a whole world of things to give thanks for.

Praying on the Spot
Sometimes we forget that prayer is a good response to the daily hassles of life. When your children come to you with a problem, help them, but also use it as an opportunity to pray for them and with them. There are many situations where inviting God into situation is a reminder for us to put our trust in our creator and redeemer. These might include a bad day at school, difficulty with someone at school or even boredom. There are so many opportunities throughout the day to pray.

At the moment I am playing with teaching my daughters about stillness. I am doing this in a pretty simple way by getting the family to stop, close their eyes and count twenty breaths before we eat dinner. Being still in the presence of God can be powerful for people who are used to twenty four seven connectivity. Often we forget to connect with God. Instead of counting breathes you could just time a minute but the act of counting breaths can provide children with something to focus on while they are learning to be still.

Praying in the car
Driving children to schools can be stressful but it could also be an opportunity to stop and pray and bring a moment of peace before a hectic day. Encourage your children to name some of the things they will do or confront in the day and pray for them.

Prayer Pot
Cards are made, and on them are the names of people and things that are really important to the family.  It may just be photos of family members; it may include particular projects or things that have a focus in the family, for example a certain missionary, or World Vision child, or a major event coming up, or particular people who are in need of special prayers. These cards are placed in a special bowl or pot.  On any one night, three cards are taken out and used as prompts for conversation or prayer. Children who are learning to pray might be given sentence starters like:
Lord Jesus, thank you for...
Creator God, please help...
Heavenly Father, in your hands we place...

Ball Prayers
Use a small ball to throw around to different family members. The person who throws the ball begins the prayer. “Thank you God for…” and throws it to someone who then finishes the prayer with one or two words…” eg. Family, rain, happiness. Keep throwing it around for as long as you can.
Thanking God often, and naming all the things we have to be thankful for is, I believe, one of the most important Christian prayer habits we can develop, especially in a consumerist society that encourages us to focus on what we don’t have as opposed to the abundance we have been given by God.

Imagination Prayers
A simple way of praying this week that involves your family using their imagination to see the things they wish to pray for. One of the adults will lead this and may choose one or a variety of the prayers listed here.
Invite your family to use their imagination to create in their mind a picture of that thing or person which they wish to pray for… provided are some ideas for things you can pray for...after saying the phrase leave some space for silence as your family sees the thing they wish to pray might like to finish with the Lord’s pray.
A hurt that needs healing…
A friend in trouble…
Something to say thankyou for…
A problem that needs solving…
Something to say sorry for…
Someone to say sorry to…
Someone who needs my friendship…
Someone who needs words of praise…

Praying Psalm 23
Pray the 23rd Psalm with your children and the members of your family. Instead of using my or me use your child’s name.
For example: The Lord is John’s shepherd, John shall not want etc.
You, Lord, are ______ shepherd.
_________ will never be in need.
You let __________ rest in fields
of green grass.
You lead _________ to streams
of peaceful water,
and you refresh ________ life.
You are true to your name,
and you lead _______
along the right paths.
___________ may walk through valleys
as dark as death,
but ______________ won’t be afraid.
You are with _________,
and your shepherd’s rod
makes ____________ feel safe.
You treat _________ to a feast,
while ________ enemies watch.
You honor _________ as your guest,
and you fill __________ cup
until it overflows.
Your kindness and love
will always be with __________
each day of _________ life,
and __________ will live forever
in your house, Lord.

Touch Prayers
This week we invite you to use a prayer without words consisting only of touch. It is very simple. Using your finger write or draw your prayers on the palm of each other’s hands or backs. If you want you might speak these prayer out aloud once they are done. Make these prayers especially for the person whom you are drawing on.

Draw or write one good thing you want for this person?

There are many ways and patterns of prayer.  Praying with Pat-C-ana is just one [pronounced Patsyanna].  It was originally written by Rev Richard Browning for use by children at church and school. The prayer below can be used as a way of remembering and teaching which finger represents which type of prayers.

From the thumb to little finger
we pray with PAT-C-ANA:
Praise and adoration -
Thank you, thank you.
Confession saying sorry:
    its forgiveness that we need.
Asking 'n asking: for others then for me.
From the thumb to little finger
we pray to God the Father.
 The prayers below help to unpack the type of prayer to use with each finger or can be used
Praying with PAT-C-ANA
Thumb: Praise and adoration
Awesome Lord and Father, the earth is yours and all that is in it. You are our God and we are your people;
Index finger: Thanksgiving
Thank you for life and love, for a home to live and a family to love.
Middle finger:  Confession
Forgive us when we hurt others, and when we offend you.
Help us to love like you love us.
ring finger:  Asking for others
We pray for…
my family and friends and those that I love.

little finger: Asking for me

And lastly for me, I place myself into your loving care.

Balloon Prayer
A really great way to pray with your family this week might be to use some balloons. Get enough balloons for a week or a couple of days. Write or draw your prayers on pieces of paper and place them in balloons, blow the balloons up and tie them somewhere in your house. Each day might have different themes: I thank God for things he has done for me. I thank God for things he has made. I ask God for help for others. I ask God for help for myself. I say sorry to God.

Singing Prayer
Thank you God for giving us food

One way of praying is through song. You may be familiar with the song that goes:
Thank you God for giving us food.
Thank you God for giving us food.
Thank you God for giving us food
Right where we are.
(If you type the first line in to youtube you can hear people singing it)
Sing around your table and let members of your family substitute the word food for anything they would like to say thank you for.

Psalm Prayers
The Psalms are one of the best examples of praise and adoration. Choose a psalm that expresses this and pray it together with your family. Some good P & A psalms are: 8, 19, 23, 29, 33,47,48, 66, 84, 96 – 100, 104, 108, 111, 134, 135, 145 – 150.

Passing of the Cross
At the dinner table a holding cross is passed from member to member. Whoever holds the cross is the person who prays.  This prayer begins with one person who either says a prayer out loud or silently says or imagines a prayer. The cross is passed when the person who holds it is finished.  Each person takes their turn.  Prompts may be given by parents as the cross is passed.
Eg. See…a friend in need, a hurt that needs healing…etc.
Pray one sentence…prompt:  thank you God for

Weaving Prayer into Daily Life
Prayer and worship are not just activities, they are a whole of life response and orientation to God. There are many ways that we might encourage our families to weave prayer, thankfulness and worship into our daily patterns. One of the easiest ways to do this is to connect it to the activities that we have to do every day, such as brushing our teeth or hair, going to the fridge for food, feeding our pets or leaving the house for work or school. Think of one of your daily routines that you would like to connect prayer to such as brushing your teeth. Attach a sticky not or label to your toothbrush with a word that will remind you to prayer for a specific thing. The same thing can be done without routines. Make sure it is something that will catch your attention. When you see it, don’t stop the activity but pray in the midst of it ask God for help of give thanks for what God has given you, pray for a family member or someone in the world in need.

Here is another idea along the same line but from a slightly different angle. As children grow there are many habits we want them to learn, that we hope might become automatic in their life, such as washing hands before meal or brushing teeth. Years and years of doing these activities hopefully ingrain the habit for life. In the teaching of these habits is an opportunity to remember God and to prayer. When washing a toddler or young childs hand before a meal take the time to say a prayer out loud. This could be a memorised prayer or it could be a line of scripture like – Psalm 51.10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Actions for a variation of The Lords Prayer
Our Father in heaven,             [finger pointing up]
You are a holy God. [open palm pointed high, head dipped reverently]
Come and rule our hearts.[open palm brought down to rest over heart]
Do what’s best on earth          [finger pointing down]
as in heaven.[rotate arm to point finger upwards]
Please keep us alive with food.[hand as bowl, other doing a scooping action to mouth]
keep us forgiven with you[closed hand warmly rotating over heart]
and forgiving with others.[same hand, finger pointing to all around in sweeping action]
Keep us holding your hand[one hand into the other hand]
and safe from all wickedness.[two hands up, elbows straight and a firm shielding action]

You’re in charge![strong action, two hands pointing up]

You can do anything you want!         [both palms open out, raised]
You are God, for ever and ever. [hands get further apart like measuring something bigger and bigger]
Amen. [closed fist brought down on an open palm].

Lowering Prayers
A useful image used for intercessory prayer is a stretcher.  From Mark 2.3-12, some people lowered their paralytic friend through the roof into the presence of Jesus.  This is a good image of the work of intercessory prayer.  That is, don’t labour too hard with the words  to use, simply do the hard work of placing or ‘lowering’ the person into the presence of Jesus.

Place on the stretcher, someone you know who needs help.
Lower on the stretcher someone who you can love better this week.
Put onto the stretcher a place that needs peace.
Put onto the stretcher one who needs healing.
Put on the stretcher a hope of yours for your life.
Lord in your mercy, receive our prayer.

Prayers of Confession
Prayers of confession are a normal part of a Christian’s prayer life. All of us, including children do things we wish we hadn’t, or don’t do the things we should. Confession, saying sorry and asking God for forgiveness is something that parents should model to children. There are various ways we might engage our children in prayers of confession.
Burning Prayers
Your family might like to individually write down things they would like to say sorry for. These prayers might then be placed in a bowl and burnt as a symbol of God’s forgiveness.
The following words might be used to help children have a language for this type of prayer:
 I got really angry today.  I think I know why, and I wish I wouldn’t.  I feel so out of control.  I feel disappointed.  Jesus, I am sorry for any hurt I have caused today.  Help me to be gentle.  Help me to love more and more.  Help me to love.
 Help me to put aside the things that hurt others, you, and me.  I am sorry for . . . .  Grant your grace to me, that I might grow more into who I am, and who you call me to be.
Words from scripture might be used to help children see that God takes away our sins from us and forgives us.
These could include:
If you sin, Jesus Christ always does the right thing, and he will speak to the Father for us. Christ is the sacrifice that takes away our sins and the sins of all the world’s people.” (1 John 2:1–2, CEV)
How far has the Lord taken our sins from us? Farther than the distance from east to west!” (Psalm 103:12, CEV)

Prayer Placemats
Use your computer to create some prayer placemats for your dinner table. These could simply have three or four different prayers printed on them for your family to pray together at the dinner table. Your children could then colour them in or decorate them. To finish them off laminate them so they will last longer. If your children are as handy at desktop publishing as many are get them to design the placemats.

Praying ACTS
Often children get into the habit of always praying thank you prayers or always praying asking prayers. One way to help them broaden their idea of prayer is to teach them this simple way of remembering some different types of prayer.
A – adoration : Prayers telling God how wonderful He is.
C – confession : Prayers saying sorry for the wrong we have done.
T – thanksgiving : Prayers thanking God for all He has done.
S – supplication: Prayers asking God for the things we and others need.

On different days of the week you might like to get your family to talk about and pray each of the different types of prayers. Alternatively you could write the four letters on pieces of paper and pick them out of a hat to determine which one you will use. When it come to confession prayers help your children think not just about their own personal sin but the things we as a people have failed to do – like care for the environment or the needy.

m & m prayers…
After dinner pass around a bowl of m & m’s. Everyone must take a handful but no one can eat any yet. For each different colour they get they need to pray for a different person or thing.

For every green M & M  tell God something that you are thankful for.
For every red M & M pray for a member of your family by name
For every orange M & M  pray for a teacher in your life
For every yellow M & M  pray for one of your classmates or friends.
For every dark brown M & M pray for a leader in your life.
For every light brown M & M you chose, pray for Christians in other countries.

 Secret Hat Prayer
Put all your family members’ names in a hat. Each member of the family must draw out a name but not tell anyone. During the week encourage the member of your family to pray for that person each day. Get them to choose a time when they will do this. Help them to think about things they might pray for such as: health, work/school, growth, knowledge, faith, things they need help with or giving thanks for the person. Parents might need to remind children of the time they have chosen each day. This activity helps children to start thinking about praying for others when they are on their own.

Teaspoon Prayers
One simple pattern for shaping prayer is to remember the three words – thank you, sorry and please. The first three letters of these are TSP which reminds us of a teaspoon. Teach this to your children so that they can remember a way of praying that includes these three things. Have a teaspoon on your dinner table to remind the family to pray for these three things before eating each night. You could even decorate the teaspoon in some special way so that it stands out and you don’t forget.

Prayer Chains
Cut up strips of paper approximately 4cm wide by 8cm long. Give one to everyone to write a prayer on for the day. Take one of the prayer papers and staple the two ends together so it forms a chain link. Do the same with the other prayers so they form a chain of prayers. See here for more detail. Each day you can add more links to your chain until it stretches across your whole house and reminds you that each little bit of pray each day adds up.

Give each family member a piece of paper and some pens or pencils for drawing. Either in silence or with some quiet music on, invite your family to draw on the paper, the people and things they want to pray for. This could include drawing the outcome that you might desire for particular situations. As your family draws encourage them to do so in silence so they may listen to what God has to say to them. At the end of the allocated time encourage everyone to share what they have drawn and what they are praying for.

Hand stack
One person places their hand in the middle of the table, then have everyone else in the family place one hand on top to create a “stack” of hands. The person whose hand is at the base of the stack goes first, praying a single sentence prayer as they pull out their hand out and place it on top of the “hand stack.” Then, the next person, whose hand is now on the bottom, prays as they pull their hand out and place it on top of the stack. When you sense it is time to stop, the adult (whose hand is on the bottom) raises up the pile of hands. That’s the signal for everyone to say “Amen!”.

Praying in Sign Language
This week get your family to learn the Lord’s Prayer in sign language.  Not only is it great to learn how to pray another way, but moving is one of the key ways that many people learn. Prayer comes not just from our mind, heart and mouth, but also from our physical bodies. Go to this link to learn the Lord’s Prayer in sign language.

Pray a Colour
Giving thanks to God is one of the most basic and important forms of prayer. It reminds us that all we have is a gift from God. Choose a colour and invite your family to give thanks to God for everything they can think of that is that colour. Take turns around the table until you can think of nothing else.

Balloon Prayer # 2
There are two ways you might use this idea to pray. Both involve writing words in permanent marker on a balloon. The first way involves your family writing one or two words naming the things or people they wish to pray for at different places over the balloon. When you have finished doing this toss the balloon around the dinner table. The words that your hands touch or a near to when you catch the balloon are the things that person must pray about. The second way uses the same method but instead of things to pray for write down different types of prayer like: praise, thanksgiving, asking, confession, waiting. Whatever your hands land on that is the type of prayer your family must do – this probably works best if everyone takes turns at each individual type of prayer.

'Fishing for Prayer' Net
This is something your family can use to pray for one other or for people you know. Get or make a fishing net and stick one end on the wall. Make and cut out little paper fish for your family to write things down they want prayer for. Stick them onto the net so other family members can read them and pray. One way to use this would be to take a fish away when you are going to pray for the thing on it. Alternatively the fish could be left up for a week and then cleared on a particular day when your family prays for all those things.

Seasonal Prayers
Advent Prayer Pattern
This pattern may be used during Advent to begin meal times or to begin a family sharing time.
It may begin by asking everyone to quieten down and to think about what it means to wait and to think of one word to describe that feeling. During the prayer the leader is going to say: “Waiting feels like…” and each person will be free to speak her word aloud. Parents might need to help little ones with a word that describes the feeling of waiting.

1.        Music. Choose a piece of gentle music to listen to. Try some different pieces each time to try and find one that expresses a feeling of waiting.

2.        Prayer. All of us wait. Each day brings its own dose of waiting. We wait in the dentist’s office, at sports practice, at school, for parents and children, for brothers and sisters. We wait for dinner to be ready, for the refund, for the letter from a friend. We wait to be big enough to ride the roller coaster, old enough to stay up late, secure enough to be on our own. Our waiting feels like…(give people a chance to voice their feeling) Advent calls us to celebrate waiting. Each time we wait, help us to remember how the world waited for a saviour. Help us to remember we are always waiting for your return. Help us find and recognise you in each other. As we wait. We are Advent people.

3.        Lord, the N…family is waiting for you.
All: Come, Lord Jesus.

(Rituals and Icebreakers. Kathleen O’Connel Chesto.Ligouri)

Lent Prayer Pattern

We are in the season on Lent, the forty days preceding Easter Day. This is traditionally a time of repentance (saying sorry and turning from sin). The resources for prayer and celebration for the next five weeks will focus on ways your family might “celebrate” well this season.
Lent is a good time to focus on God’s care and provision and on our dependence on him, but also on saying sorry

Lent is a season of remembering to say sorry to God for missing the mark. While Lent is a time of repentance and penitence it does not have to be a morbid time as we also look forward to the Resurrection of Jesus at Easter. Why not use some symbols to help your family get a feel for the Season of Lent. Some of the following things could be used during your family prayer time or mealtime ritual to mark the season.

Smell:              Rosemary.
Taste:               Salt.
Colour:            Purple.
Feel:                Hessian
Sound:             “I’m sorry”

This is a possible prayer to use during this season at the meal table or other times.

God calls us to say sorry for wrong doing.
God calls us to remember that he made us.
God calls us to remember his promises.
God calls us to live a new way,
not by might,
not by power,
but by faith…
How will we live by faith:
The cross?
We will take it.
The bread?
We will break it.
The pain?
We will bear it.
The joy?
We will share it.
The Gospel?
We will live it.
The love?
We will give it.
The light?
We will cherish it.

Lenten Thanksgiving Bowl
This week place a bowl in the middle of your table. Place some blank strips of paper and a pen next to it. Each night spend some time writing things you would like to say thank you to God for. Place them in the bowl. Smaller children might like to draw pictures.

Prayers to use in Lent

Dear God,
thank you that your love
is deeper than the ocean
and bigger than the sky.
No matter what we do,
you still love us
and welcome us home.

Dear God
Help us when we hurt.
Help us to know what to do.
Help us forgive.

(Whole People of God. 2001)

These prayers may be used as part of a meal time pattern of prayer or
at other times.

Jesus our helper, our healer and friend,
As we journey through Lent, help us to
see you more clearly
love you more dearly
and follow you more nearly,
day by day.  Amen.                 
~Taken from the Prayer of St Richard of Chichester

As we journey with Jesus to Easter, let his teachings be in our heads
and our thinking, our feet and our walking, our hands and our
serving, our hearts and our loving:

Blessed are the poor in spirit
response: For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn:
response: For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek:
response: For they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger
and thirst for what is right:
response: For they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful:
response: For mercy shall be shown to them.

Praying through the Lord’s Pray
The prayer Jesus taught is a great model for how we might pray and how we might teach our children to do so. Each week  we will look at a line of the Lord’s prayer and discover what we can learn about prayer from it.

Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name.

When we begin to pray we address God. There are many different ways we can do this. Jesus used a very intimate word “abba” which means father or dad. What do you use when you pray?

Spend some time with your children thinking about the different ways we can name God in prayer. What difference does it make calling God, father or creator or almighty God. Look online at some of the names for God in the Bible. Discuss with your family which ones you like the most and why. Use a different title for God when you pray at the dinner table this week.

Your kingdom come, your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven.

This is a prayer indicating that we want God’s kingdom to come and we want his will to be done. We are praying that we want things God’s way on earth.

Discuss with your family what they think God’s kingdom on earth might look like, sound like and feel like. How would people treat each other in God’s kingdom? How would God want some of the problems of the world dealt with? Discuss how living by God’s will might change their own way of living. Discuss how you might start living out God’s kingdom and will.

Pray with your children for some of the issues you have discussed .

Forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.

These lines of the Lord’s pray encourage us to reflect on where we have missed the mark in our relationship with God, with others, with ourselves and with creation. It also makes us question where we are not forgiving others.

Discuss with your family some of the ways that humans are sinful.
Discuss why forgiving others is important if we are to ask for forgiveness.
Take some time in silence to ask God for forgives for those things on our hearts and also to forgive others.

Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.

These lines in the Lord’s prayer are a call to God to give us the strength we need in testing times and when confronted by evil and temptation.  It is easy for us to try and rely on our own strength when things are tough but God is our strength and our shield and we should call on him when we are in need.

Discuss with your family some of the ways that they might be tested and tempted?
Discuss how they might want God to help them in these times?
Take some time to name and pray for some of the things your family is struggling with at the moment.

Ten Types of Prayer
In his book ‘The hour that changes the world’, Dick Eastman outlines twelve different types of prayer that, if prayed in five minute blocks, enables one to pray effectively for an hour. For me the most powerful aspect of this idea is the realisation that there are many different ways to pray. This is an important thing to teach children who often use thankfulness as their default prayer setting. While there is nothing wrong with this, it is of benefit to broaden their prayer horizons. Here are ten of the twelve different ways of engaging your family in prayer.

Praise and Worship
            The first type of pray is praise and worship. Maybe the easiest way for children to get a grasp on this is to describe it as: telling God how wonderful He is and why. Get your family thinking of all the fantastic things about God – His creation, His wisdom, His Son etc. As a form of praise and worship go around the table getting each person in turn to say a word describing what God is like and a reason He is so great. For example: God you are powerful because you made all creation.

Waiting on the Lord
One important approach to prayer is to be still and silent before God. Tell your family that you are going to have a time of silence to become aware of God’s presence. Let them know that doing this is a type of prayer. In this time think of nothing but God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Tell them to not worry about the time but to relax in God’s presence and love for them. Remind them of the words of the psalmist: "Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:11.)
 Don’t make this time of silence too long for little ones in order that they may succeed in keeping still. You may need to help them be still and quite. This could be done by working your way up the body with words such as: “My feet are still and quite, my legs are still and quite etc.” When they are still begin a time of silence. This time of still can often be used at the start of a mealtime in order to stop to remember God before other prayers may be said.

Prayers of confession are a normal part of a Christian’s prayer life. All of us, including children do things we wish we hadn’t, or don’t do the things we should. Confession, saying sorry and asking God for forgiveness is something that parents should model to children. There are various ways we might engage our children in prayers of confession.
Burning Prayers
Your family might like to individually write down things they would like to say sorry for. These prayers might then be placed in a bowl and burnt as a symbol of God’s forgiveness.

The following words might be used to help children have a language for this type of prayer:

 I got really angry today.  I think I know why, and I wish I wouldn’t.  I feel so out of control.  I feel disappointed.  Jesus, I am sorry for any hurt I have caused today.  Help me to be gentle.  Help me to love more and more.  Help me to love.
 Help me to put aside the things that hurt others, you, and me.  I am sorry for . . . .  Grant your grace to me, that I might grow more into who I am, and who you call me to be.
Words from scripture might be used to help children see that God takes away our sins from us and forgives us. These could include:

“If you sin, Jesus Christ always does the right thing, and he will speak to the Father for us. Christ is the sacrifice that takes away our sins and the sins of all the world’s people.” (1 John 2:1–2, CEV)

“How far has the LORD taken our sins from us? Farther than the distance from east to west!” (Psalm 103:12, CEV)

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Praying Scripture
In this type of prayer, scripture can be used as a guide or springboard. One helpful way of doing this is to explore the promises God makes in the Bible. Here are some examples of how you might pray using scripture. The best way to teach children how to do this is to model it. This type of prayer may take a bit of practice for both child and adult but I encourage you to give it a go. It will help bits of the Bible stick in your mind and in your children’s.

John 10.10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
You might pray: God thank for your the abundant life you bring us. Please help us to live abundantly. Teach us that this doesn’t mean having lots of money but being abundant in the things of God. Help us to know that the riches of your grace and mercy overflow in our life. Help us to live life fully in the freedom you gained for us.

John 15.5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.
You might pray: Lord Jesus thank you for the life that flows from you the vine. Help us to remain in you always so that we may bear much fruit in our life. Remind us that all that we do flows from you. Strengthen us in our connection with you in all aspects of our life.

Colossians 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
For children this type of prayer is about developing a sense of what things need to be prayed for. Approaching pray from this angle might include a time of silence when we ask God to show us what things in our world need our prayer. It could include looking at the news to see what is happening locally, nationally or internationally and asking the questions: What should we pray for? How might we pray for it? What does God want for this situation or person? In this approach to pray the focus is not so much on praying for these things but in being alert to what is going on and discerning needs. Take your time doing this, don’t rush and have a good conversation with your children. This is about broadening their prayer world.

1 Timothy 2:1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.
The natural result of watching, and asking God what he desires us to pray for is intercession.
This is a very simple type of prayer to teach children. It is basically asking God for the needs of others. This might be done is a variety of ways in the home. The various things your family has identified as needing prayer could be written on slips of paper and placed in a bowl. Family members then take a slip out of the bowl and pray for the thing written on the paper. Alternatively a prayer board – either a cork board or white board – might be created to pin up or write down the things that need prayer as they come up during the week. This can then be used as a reference for when the family prays.

1 Thessalonians 5.18 Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Giving thanks to God is one of the most important types of prayer that we can engage children. Everything we have comes from God, from our life and breath, to our food and water. There are many ways that you might pray thanksgiving prayers with your family. At simplest go around the table saying all the things you wish to give thanks for. Try to see how many times you can go around. Remember to thank God for spiritual, material, physical and social gifts he has given us. This should include all the things that Jesus has done for us. Another more permanent way might be to write or draw the things you want to thank God for on post-it notes and stick them on a board or wall somewhere. This can be a great source of encouragement when things are down, remembering all that god has done for us.

Psalm 100:1-2 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!

Singing is a wonderful way to pray and allows us to give true heart to our thoughts and feelings about God. Sing a worship song from church or find a CD with wonderful worship music to play and sing to. I have found the songs from the Iona Community in Scotland to be particularly good for songs as prayer. They are easy for children to learn and can be sung around the dinner table without musical accompaniment. Christian stores sell many CD’s of children’s music and often these have wonderful songs that children will enjoy learning and singing.

This is a time of stillness and an opportunity to listen to what God might have to say to you. Unless we encourage children to be still and alert to the possibility that God may speak to them they may miss his words to them. The simplest way to do this is to encourage your whole family to have a few minutes of silence, maybe with closed eyes. Pray beforehand that God might speak to members of your family. Take the time to share if you felt God speak to you in this time. Remind your children that God may not speak to them in that moment but if they are open to him speaking they may hear him speak in their heart at another time of day. Children will often ask about hearing a audible voice. Explain to them that it is much more common for people to hear God speaking within themselves. It is also important for all of us to make sure what we hear God say to us is in line with scripture and the counsel of wise Christians.

This type of prayer revolves around thinking and reflecting deeply either on a piece of scripture or on something to do with God. With children this might mean taking a particular story or passage of scripture and encouraging them to think for a moment on a theme coming from the passage, such as God’s love for us, or the wonder of creation. There are many short stories written on different themes that might help children think more deeply about scripture and these can be helpful in developing the prayer of contemplation.