One of the things I love the most about our last two church’s, is the way our Church leaders put a truly strong emphasis on children’s ministry. At our current church, Life Change Church, Cindy Teller, Katie Greve, and others do a marvelous job keeping our youth engaged, entertained, and INTERESTED…I’m sure this is no easy task but these folks do a marvelous job. Our previous church, Stone’s Crossing, also does a nice job with their youth. My good friends in the UK, John, Janet, and Caity McCartney do a magnificent job as well, but John will tell you it’s mostly Janet and Caity who truly make their children’s ministry thrive.
But for us novices, one of the biggest challenges’ we adults have with children is a lack of knowledge and appreciation for how intelligent and understanding they are or can be. We often unintentionally frame them into a world of infancy that cannot relate or handle what we feel are complex or challenging topics/issues. One of the best habits we can develop with children is to challenge them to understand anything and everything because this gives us the perfect avenue to explain, nurture, teach, and grow their views when they ask the inevitable questions or have those curious looks or concerns. What better way to build trust, respect, and bond as friends, mentors, or parents, than to work together with your children to understand any topic.
Prayer groups offer a great way to develop and enhance these types of interactions and relationships. Children are inevitably curious about God and all the great events that have occurred, and thus portrayed, in the Bible. Having them in a prayer group allows for clear and open discussion, of such questions/concerns, while building social skills and community experiences and involvement. But don't just have them attend prayer groups; that defeats the purpose, have them actively participate as equals to all who are in the group.
Depending on their age and experience, ask children to read verses, ask them what these verses mean to them, and then have open discussions about these verses. If they are truly too young to have discussions and express themselves, have them count key words or phrases or have them do a special activity, like give a random person a high-five, hand out a treat, or write something on a paper or blackboard, every time these key words/phrases are read, mentioned or discussed. You will be surprised how much fun these simple little things will be.
Don't forget that these kids still need to be loved and have fun. They will amaze you, and they will make mistakes; make both amazement and mistakes fun, while becoming true learning and collaborative events. Kids are people too, so let's help them grow, learn, enjoy, and be key active members of our groups, teams, communities and family's.
At the end of this post, I have added activities from two on-line companies who offer great ideas for children involved learning and prayer activities. I have added the text of their suggestions here for you or feel free to visit their websites for additional information.
In closing, most kids cease their church or spiritual lives when they leave home and are away from their parents’ control and/or routine. Personally, I think this is because the traditional church did not make learning about God fun, real, and meaningful. So, when these children became young adults, they truly did not have a relationship with God. So, getting them involved, in meaningful, and thought promoting activities, hopefully will change what’s happened historically and give more children and young adults, the knowledge, comfort, and real interest and excitement to stay engaged in their spiritual lives and keep fostering their relationship with God.
I pray these ideas have been helpful for all of you.
Thanks to the Sermon 4 Kids web site; https://sermons4kids.com/persistence_in_prayer_group_activities.htmhttps://justdisciple.com/youth-prayer-activities/, here are some other great prayer acitivites:
HIDE AND SEEK:
(Don't give up).... Children will take turns in trying to find someone in a designated area who the teacher has given a mini candy bar or any small item. If the child finds someone hiding but they do NOT have the item, they will continue to seek someone else until they find the children with the hidden item. Then the teacher will walk around and pretend to give another small candy or item to children and then to actually give the item to a child and the game will continue with someone else being the "seeker". Make sure that all the children get to be a "seeker" to FIND a child with the candy, but tell children to NOT GIVE UP until they find it.
TUG OF WAR (Don't give up):
Divide the children into two teams and play tug of war. After one team has been pulled across the center line, have the first or last child on each team, move to the other team and continue to play. Change one child on each team after each LINE PULL until the team is completely switched to the other side. Tell children to NOT GIVE UP and pull as hard as they can no matter who is on their team -- to be PERSISTENT!!!
PRAYER PATH GAME:
Make a path of different colors of construction paper squares. Then pass out one colored piece of paper to each child and have them stand on the path square that matches the color paper that they have been given by the teacher. The teacher will then begin to draw colored paper or an M&M out of a basket and call out that color. The child will come to the middle and name something to pray about that coincides with the color of square that the teacher called out: RED will be prayers for people (a certain name if known) who need to know that Jesus died on the cross and washed their sins away with His RED blood; DARK GREY will be for people who need to repent of their DIRTY sins; GREEN will be for someone to GROW in Jesus Christ; YELLOW will be for a certain person or group of friends or people to know more about HEAVEN; ORANGE could be for people to NOT FEAR struggles or problems because Jesus is near; PURPLE could be for people to obey GOD and to know that HE is royalty and we as Christians are His royal priesthood; BLUE can be for people to be baptized and obey God's desire for us to identify with Christ that way, etc. Then have a PRAYER PATH SCRAMBLE and everyone will change colors and continue to play.
The teacher can place signs on the wall in a designated area. The pictures can be of a HOME, a FIREHOUSE, a SCHOOL, a CHURCH, an APARTMENT COMPLEX, etc. Children will walk from picture to picture and say a short prayer, (either silently or together as a class), for the people who live or work in each place!
VIRTUAL PRAYER GAME:
Tell children to think of someone to pray for. When it is their turn, they will explain something about that person or place and the other children will try to guess where or what that prayer idea is located or what the prayer is for that person. (EX: I'm thinking of someone in my school, someone who walks in the halls, someone who watches us on the playground, or teaches my class; or I'm thinking of someone at the grocery store, etc.)
Give children supplies to trace their own hands on a piece of construction paper and cut out and tape or glue to another piece of paper. Write today's Bible verse on the hand or the paper, or write DON'T GIVE UP - KEEP ON PRAYING!
Each child can be given a styrofoam cup and little pieces of colored construction paper. Children can write on the short slips of paper - words as as PERSISTENCE IN PRAYER, DON'T GIVE UP; PRAYER, FRIENDS, FAMILY, SCHOOL TEACHERS, POOR CHILDREN, SICK PEOPLE, etc and glue around the cup. Then children can take their cup home and have empty slips of paper inside the cup and during the week, they can write on a slip of paper as prayer needs come up or as names of people come to their mind to prayer for. Encourage children to LOOK for things to pray for and to have all of their slips of paper written on by next class time.
Give children squares of construction paper to staple or tie with yarn together. Each page can be a picture drawn or some words of ideas for children to pray for --- a person, their home, school, friends, Dr, grand parents, teachers, etc. The cover page of their prayer journal can be titled -- DON'T GIVE UP -- KEEP PRAYING. Encourage children to take their prayer journals home and to write specific names on each page to prayer for. IF they see an answer to their prayers, they should place a happy face or a sticker on that page.
Children can be given 2 copies of a bear to tape or yarn tie (in punched holes) around the edges. Stuff the bear from the top with tissues and tape or staple shut. Children can draw and write ideas about Prayer from our lesson today as well as adding stickers, etc. Hang the bears from the top with a hole punched and yarn for hanging.
Give children supplies to cut out a tree trunk and tape or glue cut out leaves (or trace leaves on the tree) and place on another piece of construction paper. Let children use a pen, pencil or fine point markers to write prayer ideas on each leaf. On the trunk of the tree, children can write KEEP PRAYING - DON'T GIVE UP!
Children can draw a long Meter on their own piece of paper or a very LONG meter on the classroom wall on a poster board. Title the meter, PRAYER-O-METER. Add lines to the meter for every prayer and begin to fill in the lines as children say who they have prayed for or for the number of children who pray during class time in a prayer circle. Each week, the lines can be colored in as the children share who they have been praying for. This will encourage the children to pray for others and to see how many weeks it will take to have their PRAYER-O-METER reach the top!
Children can sit in a circle. When the teacher says to START POPPING, the children will jump (pop) up one at a time and shout out something to PRAY about. That child will sit down and then another child or teacher can POP up and continue to name prayers until all the children have had an opportunity to POP up with a PRAYER. Continue as time allows and then serve POPCORN to the children in the circle to remember their POPCORN PRAYING!
SHARE A SNACK:
CANDY PRAYERS can be part of today's snack - using M&M's and the colors to stand for various types of prayers as listed above in the PRAYER PATH GAME. Children will enjoy being given a small ziplock bag for some popcorn and M&M's to take home as well.
Thanks to the Just Disciple web site; https://justdisciple.com/youth-prayer-activities/, here are some more great prayer acitivities:
These are Christian youth prayer activities that have prayer at the center of each game. They vary depending on what you are wanting for your youth students. Incorporating Christian youth prayer activities helps teach your students to apply 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 into their daily lives.
Whether you’re a youth leader or a parent of some teens and you want to help them increase their prayer life this is for you.
What’s a Christian Youth Prayer Activity?
Christian youth prayer activities are where you plan a game/activity with the focus being on prayer. It can involve praying for each other, praying for a country, or learning prayer habits.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Taking these activities to your youth group will have amazing benefits for your student’s prayer lives by helping them apply the verse above to their daily lives.
It will help them learn prayer habits that will stick with them, assist them with learning how to effectively pray for others, to understand the importance of prayer, and to grow in their prayer lives overall.
1) Airplane Prayers (Easy)
Materials: Paper and pencils Time: 30-40 mins
Airplane prayers is a super easy activity to incorporate into any youth event because it’s super-fast to set up because, and shouldn’t take too much time
To begin have each student grab a piece of paper and a pencil, then go to a quiet area by themselves and write down their prayer request on the piece of paper. After this have each student fold their papers into an airplane, and throw them around the room once they’re finished. Finally have each student pick up the airplane closest to them, open it, and then pray over that person.
Variations: You can do this outside and students stand in a circle then throw their airplanes, and quickly run to catch the prayers before they land.
2) Prayer Charades (Easy)
Materials: Paper and pen Time: 20-30 mins
Prayer charades is a twist on the classic game charades with all of the topics being related to prayer.
Before running this game come up with different prayer topics for your kids to act out. here are a few examples: Praying for unreached people groups (UPG’s), praying for a friend, praying over the bible, praying for a goldfish, and praying for forgiveness.
To run this game, separate your students into two teams, and have two students act out the same topic at a time. You can use this to lead to an open discussion about prayer with your students as a great segue to your sermon.
Variations: You can get your leaders more involved by having them judge each group and giving them points accordingly.
3) Prayer Scavenger Hunt (Medium)
Materials: written out prayer requests on folded pieces of paper Time: 25- 30
The goal of this activity is to teach your students to pray for people outside of their immediate circle, and how important it is for us in order to strengthen us as a family united in Christ.
To prepare for this game you will need to contact the head pastor and see if you can get the public prayer requests submitted to the church, or reach out to your student’s families and ask them what their prayer requests are as well as asking if you can have the students pray for them.
After you gather your prayer requests either put them in an Easter egg or have something attached to it so that it stands out and doesn’t get lost.
About 10 -15 minutes before youth group begins or during another game, hide all of the prayers around the church and then prep the students on how to pray for their community. After let the students go crazy trying to find at least one prayer request each, then have them go to their own quiet spot and pray.
Variations: to get the whole family involved send the prayer request home with the student and have them pray for over their request daily. For the students who prayed daily come up with a small initiative to reinforce this new habit, they’re building.
4) Prayer wall (Easy)
Materials: A wall, string, duct tape, clothes pin, paper, and pens. Time:10- 15 minutes
A prayer wall is not necessarily an activity but a weekly commitment to making prayer a focus of your ministry.
To get this going you can set it up in whatever way flows best with your overall theme in your youth room. I suggest creating a duct tape cross on one of the walls in your room, taping up some rope across, and then when students have a prayer request, they can pin it on the wall.
In order to make this a commitment have each student weekly, and when they pin one up, they must take one to pray for that request throughout the week. This helps not only make prayer a focus but also gets students praying for others and not just themselves.
Variations: To help students feel more comfortable making personal prayer requests you could have a private prayer box for only the youth leaders to pray over during the week.
5) Fire of Forgiveness (Easy)
Materials: a campfire/ safe area for a fire, paper, and pens Time:30 -40 minutes
This activity is more so to do as a visual and application activity after a sermon.
For this activity talk about how we all struggle with different sins, but we must be willing to ask for forgiveness for them from Christ in order to fully lay them down. Then have them write down something they need forgiveness for, pray over it, and then put it in the fire as a symbol of fully releasing it to God and being committed to actively fighting that sin in their life.
6) Count Your Blessings (Medium)
Materials: Paper, markers, scissors, and glues Time: 20-30 minutes
This art activity will help students focus on all the blessings God has placed in their life, and teach them to not only make requests from God but to also praise him for all he’s done.
For this activity, the students can get creative with their layout, and all they have to do is write all of their blessings on their piece of paper. After have them spend time in prayer thanking God for all that he has done.
Variations: Have them do this same type of craft but with I am statements and magazines to help students see who God has created them to be.
7) Splat Map (Medium)
Materials: Plastic map or tapestry, water balloons, prayer points for each country and water Time: 30 mins
This game kills two birds with one stone by helping your students stay cool, and teaches them the importance of world prayer by having them pray for countries all around the world.
There are two different ways you can have your students pray for each country. The first way is by having them pray for the country as a whole, you can look up prayer requests for this country via google or by going on Operation World’s website (click here).
The second way is by having them pray for unreached people groups (UPG’s) by googling unreached people groups in each country, then going to the Joshua Project (click here) and typing in each unreached people group’s name. After you choose which route, you’re going to go write prayer requests on a piece of paper for each country so that you can hand them out to students when running this game.
To set up this activity lay your map out anywhere outside, have your pre-filled water balloons in a bucket ready to go, and have your prayer lists on hand. To run this activity, have one kid throw their balloon one at a time while a leader is within a water-free distance of the map to see where it splatters.
Once every student has gone have them pray over their country/UPG and then discuss after.
Variations: To add some difficulty to this game you add in some hula hoops that leaders hold for the students to throw their balloon through.
I hope this list not only gives you new ideas to incorporate in your ministry to strengthen your student’s prayer life but also sparks new creativity to help you come up with your own Christian youth prayer activities to bring to your ministry.