Another school year is beginning.
Before our kids head off to their first day of school, we prepare them by purchasing proper school supplies, a nice backpack, and a lunchbox to hold a nutritious meal.
But are we preparing our kids spiritually for the kinds of things they may face at school?
Before your kids head off to school and throughout the year, make sure to pray for the following.
1. That they would be a light in the darkness at school.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:14 (ESV)
As our kids walk the halls of their schools, let’s pray that the light they shine for Jesus would be bright. As others interact with them, may our children draw people to Christ through their words and actions.
2. That they would recognize the authority of their teachers.
Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution…1 Peter 2:13a (ESV)
One of the problems we faced with our kids as they entered the junior and senior high years was dealing with respect for their teachers.
Even when facing conflict with teachers, the Bible says we need to respect the authority placed over us.
Let’s pray that our children have respect for their teachers, even if they face conflict with those teachers, knowing that this year God has put those teachers in authority over them.
3. That they would do their schoolwork to the glory of God.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV)
One of the things we try to stress in our home is doing homework well, instead of doing it quickly to get it out of the way.
It’s human nature for kids to want to rush through homework, so they can get on to doing things they love. But let’s pray that they take the time to do their schoolwork to the best of their ability, as if they are doing schoolwork for the Lord. Because they are.
4. That they would be a friend to the friendless.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:7-8 (ESV)
Doesn’t it seem like every year there is one kid in class who has a hard time making friends? Some years that kid was my child. Oh what a difference it would have made if just one child came alongside her to be her friend.
Our experience has spurred us to pray that our children would be a friend to the friendless. Bullying or even just loneliness can take such a toll on children. Let’s pray that our kids have the courage to reach out in kindness when they see another child who could use a friend.
5. That God would open their eyes to anything unbiblical.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. John 14:26 (ESV)
One of the things I remember as a Christian student in public high school was the day my science teacher made fun of one of my classmates for challenging the accuracy of the Big Bang Theory.
Years later, I admire my classmate for sticking up for her beliefs.
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When our kids go to school, especially public school, they will be exposed to beliefs that are in opposition to what the Bible says. Let’s pray that our kids listen to the Holy Spirit’s prompting to recognize such thoughts and ideas. And let’s pray that our kids would desire to discuss these issues with us, their parents.
6. That they would not be ashamed of the gospel.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16 (ESV)
Sooner or later in public school, a Christian kid will probably be made fun of for their belief in Jesus.
Hopefully it won’t happen on a regular basis. But even if it does, let’s pray that our kids are confident enough in their faith that they are not ashamed of the gospel. Pray they recognize that everyone, including those who make fun of them, needs the salvation the gospel offers.
7. That they would have wisdom in choosing friends.
Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 (ESV)
Choosing friends is important. It’s a talk I’ve given to my kids over and over.
You see, in college, I thought I was a strong enough Christian to hang out with whomever I pleased. I chose some non-Christian partying friends. I didn’t change them. They changed me.
Let’s pray that our kids choose well when they choose their closest friends. That they choose friends who will encourage them to strengthen their relationship with Jesus.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…Matthew 28:19 (ESV)
Even our children are presented with opportunities to share the gospel. Pray that they recognize the opportunities to share Jesus with their friends — that they would be open to inviting others to church or youth group or AWANA.
9. That they would be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20 (ESV)
There are a lot of opportunities to get angry at school. An unfair grade, a cold shoulder from a friend, or even a misunderstood assignment all have the potential to stir up anger in our children.
Let’s pray when they are tempted to lash out in anger that they would remember to listen first and not sin in their anger.
10. That they end the school year more spiritually mature than they began.
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18 (ESV)
Each school year we expect that our children will have more knowledge at the end of the year than they had at the beginning. It’s why we send them to school.
But do we expect that they will grow spiritually every year?
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More than anything else, let’s pray that our kids take their faith in Christ seriously. That they are motivated to read their Bibles and pray. And that they would end the school year more spiritually mature than they began.
That, to me, would be a successful school year.
Use this Sunday school lesson with kids of all ages from the popular book Kids’ Travel Guide to the Lord’s Prayer. Find more great Sunday school lessons to help kids grow in their faith.
God desires to have a relationship with each of us, and an important part of any relationship is communication. God has established prayer as a means for us to communicate with him. Through prayer, we can praise God, ask for forgiveness, thank God for all he’s done, and let our requests be made known to him. Prayer allows us to open our hearts to God and let him know our innermost thoughts and desires.
Children are eager to communicate with anyone who will listen to them, but they often feel adults don’t care about their thoughts, concerns, and opinions. Use this lesson to teach your children that God wants us to talk to him and gives us many examples of prayer in the Bible. Celebrate with them the joy of communicating with God.
God wants us to talk to him.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).
Departure Prayer (up to 5 minutes)
How can we teach children about prayer without actually taking time to pray? If you don’t have enough time to pray, you don’t have enough time to teach! Fight the temptation to dive into the lesson without asking God for his wisdom. Spending a few minutes in prayer can make the difference between wasting your time and watching it produce much fruit. God will give you the wisdom to teach as you ask him for it (James 1:5).
Before you pray remind the children that they can talk to God as they would their best friends. God wants to hear what each person has to say. Invite each child to thank God for one good thing that happened in the past week.
Then pray: Dear Lord, thank you for loving us and hearing us when we pray. Help us to learn to talk to you every day, in every situation. Thank you for answering our prayers and helping us to please you. We love you and praise you for all you’ve done. Amen.
1st Stop Discovery (15 minutes)
This activity emphasizes God’s love for each child and his desire to communicate with us.
Items to Pack
- construction paper,
- crayons or markers,
- bright and colorful stickers
Borrow a book of sample invitations from a stationery shop. Let children look at all the fancy and expensive invitations for inspiration as they make their own.
- When have you been invited to something fun, like a birthday party, wedding, or another special event?
- How did you know you were invited?
- What do invitations look like? What do they say?
Say: God has invited each of us to spend time with him and talk to him. God wants us to talk to him! When we talk to God, it’s called prayer. Let’s make invitations from God, inviting us to talk to him.
Set out the construction paper, markers or crayons, and colorful stickers. Then have each child make an invitation to give to a different child in the class. Let children draw names so they’ll each know who to make an invitation for. The invitation should be from God, inviting the child to come and talk to God. Let kids fill in the remaining information as follows:
Time: any time!
Place: any place!
Date: any day!
Remind kids that this is God’s personal invitation for a special visit, so they should work to make the invitation as nice as possible. Then when the invitations are finished, have children deliver them to each other.
- When you have something important or exciting that you want to share with a friend, how do you usually communicate with him or her?
- Do you need to send a special invitation to talk with your friend?
- How would you feel if every time you had something to talk about with your friend you had to make an appointment or send an invitation?
Say: We don’t need an invitation to talk to God. God wants us to talk to him. When we talk to God, it’s called prayer, and today we’re going to be learning more about what prayer is.
Story Excursion (15 minutes)
ABCs of Prayer
Children will consider reasons people prayed in the Bible, and reasons why we pray today.
Items to Pack
- a large sheet of newsprint or a white board
If you have adult or teen helpers in your class, ask them to join different groups and help the groups locate and read their assigned verses. You may want to write these verses on slips of paper ahead of time to make it easier for children to refer to them.
Boldly print the letters of the alphabet down the left margin of the newsprint or whiteboard, and place it where children can easily see it.
Open your Bible to Luke 11 and read verse 1 aloud.
- Why did the disciples need to be taught how to pray?
- Do we need to be taught how to pray? Why or why not?
- What do you think prayer is?
Say: The Bible gives us hundreds of examples of prayers. One prayer from the Bible that many people know is called the Lord’s Prayer. We’re going to spend the next weeks learning about this prayer. But first, let’s look in the Bible to find a few other prayers. We can see why people prayed and what they said in their prayers. This will help us understand more about what prayer is.
Have children form five groups. Be sure that each group has a Bible.
Assign each group one of the following Scriptures, and have the children read the verses together and determine why the person was praying.
- Genesis 24:12-14
- 1 Kings 3:7-9
- Acts 9:36-42
- Daniel 9:4-5
- Mark 6:41
Allow several minutes for children to read and discuss. Then ask each group to report why the person in their passage was praying. As they report, write their answer beside the letter of the alphabet that corresponds with the first letter of their answer. For example, Group 1 might answer “guidance,” so you would write this beside the letter G on your alphabet list. Group 2 might say “wisdom,” so this would go beside the letter W. Groups may have more than one answer, they may use a short phrase for their answer, and there may be several answers for some letters of the alphabet.
After each group has reported, say: Let’s fill in all the blank letters now. Think of other reasons you or other people you know pray that begin with the letters we still have available.
Have the class work together to complete the alphabet. Your list might include Ask God for something, Blessing, Confession, Direction, and so on. Here’s help on the difficult letters. Q: Quiet heart or Quest for help. X: eXcitement for what God has done or eXpress praise. Y: Yearning to know God or saying Yes to God. Z: Zeal for God or Zillions of things to thank God for. Bring along a dictionary or thesaurus for extra ideas.
The say: Wow! This is a wonderful list. It shows us there are so many reasons to pray to God. Our list also helps us see that prayer is more than just saying thanks to God before we eat, or more than asking God for a new bike. It’s a special way of communicating everything about our lives with God. And best of all, God wants us to talk to him! Let’s read about one more reason we can pray.
Read Philippians 4:6 aloud, and ask what this verse teaches us about prayer. Then say: God doesn’t want us to worry about things. God wants us to tell him what’s going on in our lives and let him take care of it. Let’s say this verse aloud together.
Say the verse aloud several times, letting children repeat each phrase. Then say: The Bible makes it clear that God wants us to talk to him. It’s great to know that God cares about us enough to listen to us all the time!
Adventures in Growing (15 minutes)
Children will consider ways we communicate with people and ways we can communicate with God.
Items to Pack
Have children stay in their groups from the previous activity, and assign each group one of the following forms of communication: sign language, e-mail, letters, telephone, talking face to face. Then ask group members to tell each other jokes within their groups, while only using their assigned method of communication. Give the following directions to the various groups:
- Sign language group: Only use hands and gestures to communicate. No sounds or lip movement allowed.
- E-mail group: Sit back-to-back and write messages on paper, then hand them to others in the group without making eye contact or speaking aloud.
- Letters group: Write messages on paper, and silently deliver to others in the group.
- Telephone group: Sit back-to-back and talk without making eye contact.
- Talking face to face group: Converse normally.
After children have communicated jokes for several minutes in this manner, have them sit in their groups and communicate normally as they continue this activity.
The say: Think of at least two reasons your group’s kind of communication is good and at least two reasons this kind of communication is not good. For example, you can use sign language in places where you’re supposed to be quiet, like a library, but you can’t use sign language to talk on the phone.
Allow a few minutes for discussion, then have each group report its answers.
- If you had to choose only one of these ways of communicating, which one would it be and why?
- Which of these ways can we use to communicate with God?
- Which form of communication is easiest for you to use to talk with your friends? your parents? God?
- Which of these ways of communicating will you use to share what’s on your mind with God this week?
Then say: God doesn’t care how we communicate with him. We can write, speak, or even think what we want to communicate to God, and God hears us and understands us. And God never gives us a busy signal or says the words in our letters aren’t spelled right or tells us to come back later when he’s not busy. God hears our prayers any time, any place, and any day. God wants us to talk to him so he’s made it easy for us to pray!
God’s Listening Ears (5 minutes)
Children will use a rhyme with hand motions to remind them that they can always talk to God.
Say: In Isaiah 30:19b, the Bible says, “How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you.” God wants us to talk to him. He’s ready to hear our every word. Let’s learn a poem to remind us that we can pray any time and God will hear us.
Lead the kids in the following rhyme, doing the hand motions and letting children repeat the words and motions.
God is always ready to hear (cup hands to your ears)
Words we speak that are sincere. (Put hand over your heart.)
He will listen to every prayer (fold hands as in prayer)
Any time and anywhere. (Spread arms to indicate large area.)
God pays attention to every word (cup hand to ear again);
Nothing we say will go unheard. (Shake head from side to side.)
So talk to God both night and day (cup hands around mouth)
And close beside him you will stay. (Wrap arms around self as if in a hug.)
Souvenirs (10 minutes)
Children will record prayers and keep track of God’s answers over time.
Items to Pack:
- blank paper,
- pencils or pens
Say: We’re going to be learning about prayer for several weeks. Let’s start keeping track of what we’re praying about, and see what God does in our lives and in the lives of others through these prayers.
Give each child a “Prayer Journal” handout, and make pens or pencils available. Then ask children to write or draw at least two things they want to pray about this week and include the date. Have older children help younger ones who cannot write. Explain that each week kids can add to this list, and they can also note how God answers their prayers over the coming weeks.
Home Again Prayer (10 minutes)
Tower of Prayer
This activity becomes a visual prayer
Items to Pack
- poster board or heavy paper,
- pair of scissors or a paper cutter,
- markers or crayons
Cut poster board or heavy paper into 4×4 squares. You will need two squares per child.
Give each child two squares. Have the children write or draw a picture of something they would like to talk to God about. It can be something they’re thankful for, something they’re concerned about, or a visual expression of praise.
As children complete their artwork, invite them to take turns taping their squares to the wall, starting down low near the floor, placing one on top of the other to create a tower of prayer. As you watch the tower grow, notice all the different things the children want to pray about to God. Explain to kids that this is a visual reminder of all the reasons we have to pray.
Say: Our tower is tall, but it’s not how high it is that matters. Our prayers reach God no matter how big or small they are.
When the tower is complete, have children form pairs. Have children share with their partners about the blocks they created for the tower. Then ask children to sit down together and pray for each other. After a couple of minutes, close the time with this prayer:
Dear God, thank you so much for loving us and for listening to our prayers. We’re glad that you want us to talk to you. Help us to talk to you every day this week, no matter what’s going on in our lives. Amen.
Have kids write their names on the back of their Prayer Journal pages, writing the letters down the left margin. Then have them refer to the ABC list created earlier and write reasons to pray that match the letters of their names. This adds a personal dimension to praying!
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