Children and Prayer

 

By Irma Chon:  My journey began as God began to reveal to me His compassion for lost children around the world – those who did not know their Abba Father, those suffering from poverty and war, those who are abused, and those who are used as child laborers.  My heart began to be broken by what breaks God’s heart – the condition of children around the world.  As I began to pray for these children, I also began to see that the best people to pray for children’s issues were children themselves.

God showed me that if we call the children together and show them the world as He sees it, they will become some of the most passionate prayer warriors for God’s kingdom and purposes.  God has created them to be compassionate as He is compassionate.

In response to what God was showing me, I began a Kids’ Prayer Club for children in my church in grades 1-6.  The prayer club met for a little over an hour a week and is called “Time with Abba.”  The time begins with reading God’s Word and the children are encouraged to read the Bible at home in addition to the prayer club time.  Each child is given a journal with selected Bible readings.  Leaders explain what it means to hear God’s voice when they read Scripture and pray.  The children are encouraged to journal what they hear God say is on His heart.

After reading God’s Word, the group spends time praying.  The boys and girls love their huge map of the world that covers the floor of our small church auditorium.  The children declare who God is over the nations.  Sometimes they have a very specific prayer focus like hunger, and I help them identify places where children are suffering in this way.

One of the kids’ favorite things is to be able to “go anywhere in the world” to pray.  For instance, they have a special burden for North Korea, so they often head to the North Korea area of the map to pray.  Sometimes they prayer walk around the world on their floor map.  Other times they sit on a certain country with a Bible and just pray John 3:16 for that nation.  Or leaders may give them little flashlights, and they shine their light over that nation, praying things like, “Jesus said, ‘I am the light of the world,’ so we pray that your light will come to Turkey and to North Korea.”

Another aspect of the children’s praying involves journaling in blank books, each designated for a different location.  For example, they have one presidential journal, one for missionaries in Peru who work with the kids of the streets in Lima, Peru  and one for North Korea.  Another volume is their “Praise for Jesus” journal.  These journals are often laying out and the children can write in them the prayers that God is giving them.

Occasionally the journals are sent off to the designated missionary so that they can read the children’s prayers.  Then they write back to report how God is responding.  The children don’t know where the journal for North Korea will ever go, but they keep writing and keep praying!

It is so exciting to see their compassion grow.  They love to know about the nations and about the world.  There are times that we encourage our children to fast.  We explain what fasting means, and they decide to fast – maybe from candy or from video games, or they may fast from food for a special prayer time that we have declared.

During our church’s missions conference, a time is set up for the kids to gather around the visiting missionaries to pray for them.  Brian and Rachel Langley with Word Made Flesh, the children’s missionary partners in Peru, eagerly confirm how much they have been blessed by the children at our church.   They say, “When we visit, the Kids’ Prayer Club is always excited to see our family and hear about how we are doing.  They know our names, and we know theirs.  We sit together in the prayer circle during Sunday School, and when we show them pictures of the children and young adults among whom we work, the boys and girls remember their names and their stories.  As we talk, they make notes in their prayer journals.”

We see local churches emphasizing teaching children how to pray correctly rather than on receiving from children’s prayers,” the Langley’s note.  “But one of the hallmarks of the children’s ministry at my church is their emphasis on the spiritual capacity of children.  We have been blessed by the Kids’ Prayer Club, but we also have learned from the prayers of these young children.”

“Every time we visit,” the Langley’s continue, “we have been privileged to have them lay their hands on us and send us back into ministry in Peru.  Their prayers are one of the pillars of support for our family and our ministry among the poor in Lima.”

I would also like to emphasize that children can take their rightful place in God’s Kingdom work, which starts with prayer.  They can begin to know God through prayer, to recognize His voice, and to experience the love of the Father for themselves.  Then God gives them His prayer agenda, which consists of prayers for lost people and for the suffering.  As they learn, their heart of compassion grows, and God can put them in places of opportunity and in positions of power.

The impact of this one group of praying children has reached far beyond what they could have imagined when they started.  In September of 2007 five youth from our church (5th grade through high school) were invited to join 40 children and 150 adults from around the world to come to the United Nations headquarters in New York City.  The children heard firsthand from some of the ambassadors, and they were invited to be part of a historic moment of prayer.  These youth, stood in the UN building praying for the children of the nations, the victims of AIDS and of war.  They declared who God is and prayed that the nations will come to know Him.  A number of ambassadors welcomed the children to pray for them.

When former President Bush’s wife, Laura, visited our city, she was told about children who pray for the nations, and she invited them to meet with her in a private place away from the press.  There they gathered around her and prayed for her and for the nation, simply verbalizing once again what God had already challenged them to pray many times before.

The mounting strength and impact of children’s prayers have been compared to a silent tsunami hitting the earth, but this time for good.  Around the globe there is an awakening to the untapped resources of children’s prayers.  In place after place, boys and girls are beginning to take their rightful place in God’s Kingdom work, which starts with prayer.

Recently I was in  Chihuahua, Mexico, where I was invited to take part in a one-day missions conference for over 1,500 children in the city convention center.  Churches across that area worked together to present the nations to the children in this one-day missions adventure.  I was invited to come and have a House of Prayer there and I included many of the things we do in my home church.  The Mexican children spent all day going from station to station, learning about the people of the world.  Then they came to the House of Prayer where they prayed with passion for the nations, clearly bearing a new sense of urgency God had given them for needy people.

When a short-term missions team returned to our church from Ecuador, we listened to a report of what they experienced.  At the conclusion, I asked for a child to pray.  One of our little boys enthusiastically waved his hand.  He could have prayed right where he was; we didn’t ask him to move.  But he got up, walked to the front, dropped to his knees, prostrated himself, and started to pray.  He just followed his heart!  That’s the kind of prayer that moves mountains—he faith of a child.

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