“I thought you were crazy when you announced that we would be praying for an hour and a half with the kids. I did not think that second grade boys could pray that long. I was totally wrong. They prayed the whole time with excitement.” This was the response from one of our leaders years ago when we took children on what we call “A Journey of Prayer.” We set aside one evening and set up our classrooms as prayer stations.
After 28 years of working with children, I have found five effective steps that bring spiritual growth and transformation in the lives of children. In the summer of 2002, I tested the water with kids for the first time, teaching them five basic spiritual disciplines that I learned from NavPress® and MasterLife by Avery T. Willis. I didn’t learn these five disciplines until I was an adult, and they brought amazing change in my own life, so I wanted to teach them to kids, too. That summer, they learned these five steps or disciplines, which resulted in exponential growth that I had not seen in kids before. Here are the five steps we taught and walked through together:
During one of our summer preteen mission trips, the Lord spoke to one of our leaders through a little girl. Maggie (5th grade) had an impression during one of our evening worship services to pray for this adult leader.
She walked up and asked the leader if she could pray for them. The leader said, “Sure.” So, Maggie began praying, mentioning three things the Lord had put on her heart.
Well, it doesn’t seem like a big deal until you hear the other side of the story. The leader she prayed for was feeling discouraged that night. Before this little girl prayed, the leader was in the back of the worship center praying and seeking the Lord. While the leader was praying, three specific things were heavy on their heart.
You might ask, why am I here? Why do I exist? For every child in the church today, there is a desire to find purpose and identity. Thinking even more deeply, how do we help a child find their purpose in Christ’s church, and do they really have a purpose at such a young age? I have wondered this myself. Like Jesus’ disciples, I was guilty of hindering children in their walk with Christ. I assumed that their faith was only about taking in information, not about expressing it. In reality, Jesus was speaking to me just as He spoke to His disciples who were with Him every day. Remember His scathing rebuke to His disciples when they hindered the children from coming to Him? “For of such is the kingdom” (Matt. 19:14). Maybe they didn’t see the children as persons to be heard, but only seen. I want to say this with all my heart, KIDS HAVE A PURPOSE IN THE CHURCH TODAY! In fact, children who have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior especially do because God has gifted them for service. Here are a few steps you can take to make a shift in the way you minister with kids: