We all know how important it is to pray for other people but in order to teach your children to pray for other people you need to have a couple of ideas up your sleeve so that they don’t end up praying rote prayers without actual input from their hearts.
They are never too young to pray, if they can say a name, if they have a friend or relation that they love and adore then they are old enough to pray for others. Children do imitate so if you are praying for others then they will do the same.
Here are se7en ideas we use to pray for other people:
- Round the breakfast table my kids all pray for someone, anyone they choose, every day. It is very interesting to see who they pray for. There is a complete mix of people they love and one of my kids is praying for the teenage son of someone we vaguely know. He heard that this teen was going off the rails some what… he has prayed daily for this kid and his heart ever since, for this entire year.
- We pray through our birthday calendar and the people we know and love on the day of their birthday. But we needed to be praying for more people. People who serve us and people we interact with.
- So now instead of praying through our birthday calendar we pray through my cell phone contacts (used to be our personal phone book before cell phones), slow and steady… just a person a day. This way you get to prayer for all sorts of people, and it gets a bit harder because we don’t know all of them! Pray for the chemist, the doctor, the plumber, not to mention lots of friends that we don’t often see – all these people get a quick prayer once in awhile.
- Whenever we hear a siren my children know to pray for the people involved in the incident… for instance if they hear an ambulance they may pray for the injured person or the doctors involved. Not only that they may be healed or that they may heal skillfully but also that those people might have a chance to hear the Gospel and that they might respond to it.
- As part of their school curriculum they are taught to pray for other people groups around the world, some of whom haven’t yet got the Bible in their own language.
- We live in a part of the world where there are a lot of emergencies: the local township often has fires that leave hundreds of people homeless, you cannot go anywhere without seeing the plight of the homeless and street kids on every corner. Not to mention major problems like Zimbabwe and the cholera outbreak. Often at church on a sunday one of these issues will be raised and my kids will plot and plan a prayer meeting on the way home: Their prayer meetings involve sitting round the table and everyone taking turns to pray… it also involves real tea out of the teapot and if they remember to tell me in the morning then there will be one quickly baked treat as well…What an opportunity for me to serve them! And what would a prayer meeting be without tea and cookies.
- Finally, we have a collection of missionary friends around the world that we pray for at bedtime, just one missionary family a night as we virtually wander our way around the world.
I should add that we didn’t wake up one day and decide that we would start praying all day… one of these ideas was added and became a habit and then another and then another, until this is what we have. I would suggest that if you don’t already prayer habitually for folk then just choose one of these ideas and go with that one… and slowly build up adding more ideas in as you go along.