Last week I came across this article on prayer. I invite you to notice how ancient prayer practices have modern day effects even with some of our youngest.
Let Us Pray – by Melanie Gordon
“What does prayer look like? How do you pray? The concept of prayer can be particularly vague for children. How do we speak to their concrete, yet very imaginative, minds to let them know that God is listening? At Allen Memorial United Methodist Church in Oxford, Georgia, the children know how to pray.
“One way that they have learned to pray is through using the ancient prayer form of prayer beads, a simple chain of beads that children can make. As children hold and feel the beads, they are reminded that God is with them and listening to them. If their minds wander while in prayer, they can squeeze the beads to help them refocus on what they are saying to God and what they hear God saying. The beads can each represent a person for whom they want to pray or something specific they want to tell God. They can use each bead to offer a blessing to people they care about or for people they don’t even know. The beads make prayer more accessible to children who are tactile learners.
“The families at Allen Memorial UMC are using prayer beads with their children as a way of helping their children stay connected with God. Parents have discovered that when their children use prayer beads they are more likely to initiate prayer and develop their own ideas about how to pray. In one family, after spending devotion time making beads with other families in the community, one of the young daughters chose beads to represent different people she wanted to pray for. The next day she told her mother that “the red bead was to pray for you, but now it is also love; the green one was to pray for the dog, but now it means creation.” The beads expanded her prayer life and gave her a concrete way to talk about her experience of prayer.
“Questions for Discussion
“How is your congregation equipping parents to be spiritual leaders in the home and nurture the prayer lives of children?
“What are the forms of prayer that your congregation regularly uses in worship? In what ways could congregational prayer be enhanced to be more engaging to children and others who are tactile learners?
“What are the prayer ministries, beyond the worship service, of your congregation? How are children incorporated into these ministries?”
Some good questions are asked in the article that should give us pause to consider.