Teaching Children to Value Prayer | Popsicle Stick Prayers

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Prayer is an important part of our walk with the Lord. It something we can and should start teaching our children about when they are young. And the younger we start teaching them, the better.

Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. ~Proverbs 22:6 (NLT)

My son is just under three years old. Before he gets tucked in bed at night, my husband and I pray with him. We ask him who he would like to pray for and he usually lists different people in our family. Sometimes he will ask to pray for things like the trash truck, because he’s connecting to what is a part of his world. So we will pray for the trash people who come to our neighborhood and thank God for the work the trash trucks do to help us. My husband and I usually do the praying, but within the last few months our son has started to show an interest in saying prayers too. He is good at the “Dear God” part, and with some guidance he will say a few additional words. He is learning how to pray and it is special to witness.

As I was thinking about how to further enrich my son’s learning about prayer, this Popsicle Stick Prayer activity came to mind. It is a simple, meaningful and tangible way to teach young children how to pray. The idea is to fill a container with prayers that are meaningful to your children and then choose a few of them to pray about with your children each day—bedtime would be a perfect time to fit this in.  Whether your children are just beginning to learn about prayer, or if your children already have some prayer routines in place, this activity will get your little ones excited about praying.

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You will need:

2 small containers

 jumbo size craft sticks

sticky back fun foam

a good marker

labels 

supplies

The metal pails I used were leftover from my son’s 2nd birthday. They are the perfect size for this activity and they can be found for about $1 a piece at places like the dollar store. Recycled plastic containers would work just fine too. Fun foam brightens things up a little bit, but you can keep it very simple and skip that part if you want.

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Directions:

1. Together with your children, come up with some prayers to add to the sticks. You can focus on praying for certain people or extend it to pray for your children’s school, your church and so on. I chose to start by just focusing on people (mainly our immediate family), so our sticks got filled with names. Either way, use a permanent marker and write a name or prayer request on each stick.

2. Add the fun foam to the sticks by removing the white labels and sandwiching together 2 pieces of fun foam per stick (sticky sides facing each other).

3. Add labels to the two containers using the wording “praying for” and “prayed for.” I used Avery oval labels.

4. Add all of the sticks to the “praying for” container.

5. At bedtime or a certain time each day, have you children pick a certain amount of sticks out of the “praying for” container. Then pray for those people/requests with your children. When done, move those sticks to the “prayed for” container.

6. Once the “praying for” container is empty, take the sticks from the “prayed for” container and add them back to the original container. Having two containers rather than just one, ensures that your children make their way through all of the prayers. You can easily change things up and add new prayers along the way.

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We have just started doing this activity with my son at bedtime. He picks two “prayers” each night and we pray together. It has been a fun way to see him get excited about praying!

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(C) 2014 Pocketful of Motherhood and Hannah Bollinger

Intentional Prayer: Part 4 {Listening and Responding} | And Closing Thoughts

praying series blog

We have reached the final stretch! If you have been following this entire series, thanks for sticking with me to the end—and if your just joining in, I’m glad you are here. If you have missed any part of this series and are interested in catching up, you can find the previous posts here:

Intentional Prayer: Part 1{Praying For Your Children}

Intentional Prayer: Part 2 {Praying For Your Children}

Intentional Prayer: Part 3 {Praying For Your Family, Friends And Beyond}

Be sure to read through to the end of this post, to learn about the story behind this series.

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We are wrapping up this Intentional Prayer Series with one more area of focus called, Listening and Responding. Prayer is not just about us doing the talking, it’s also about us listening to God.

Be still

The world can often be a very busy place. It can be challenging to quiet ourselves enough to just stop, and listen to God. If we allow ourselves to get too distracted, we can loose our focus about what God is trying to speak to us. That’s why it’s so important to find some quiet moments and just take some time to be still and listen—to God.

Often when I pray, I take a little time to be quiet and listen for anything God wants to reveal to me after I’ve done the talking. But the idea here is to listen first, then do the talking.

  • To get started, you might want a place to jot down thoughts—a journal or something similar.
  • Set aside some time each week to Listen and Respond. Simply find a quiet space free of distractions.
  • You may find it helpful, to prepare your mind with a simple prayer such as,“God reveal to me what you desire for me to see and hear during this time.”
  • Then close your eyes and just listen. Listen for as long as you feel led. It may be 1 minute or 20 minutes. It’s completely between you and God.
  • Then, when you feel ready—respond. You may feel the need to talk with God. Maybe you want to jot down the things God revealed while you were listening. You could even write out a prayer to God in response to what you heard or saw during your listening time. You may even feel led to put something into action in your life.

If you’ve never done this before, it may feel strange at first and you may feel like you hear absolutely nothing for a while. That’s okay, try to give it some time. The more we seek God, the more in tune we become to Him. The more in tune we are to Him, the more we hear those gentle Holy Spirit whispers throughout the day.

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Putting It All Together

 Hopefully some of the ideas we’ve discussed over the past two weeks will help strengthen you relationship with The Lord as you seek to be more intentional about praying. There are so many different ways to implement the the ideas that we have covered in this series—it’s personal for each of us.

Here is a brief look into how I’m working on being more intentional about praying this year, in case you are looking for ideas…

I have broken things up so that I have an focus area each day of the week:

  • Mondays: I pray for my son and for parenting related things {Part 1}
  • Tuesdays: I pray for my husband and my marriage {Part 2}
  • Wednesdays: I pray for other family, friends and beyond {Part 3}
  • Thursdays: I “Listen and Respond” {Part 4}
  • Fridays: I focus on prayer requests that others have asked me to pray about.
  • Saturdays: I pray as I feel led
  • Sundays: I pray as I feel led

By breaking up things into to smaller parts, I feel that I can go deeper in my prayers for people. It also feels manageable, rather than overwhelming. And certainly, I’m not married to this—it just gives me some focus.

prayer tools

My prayer journal helps me stay organized. On the inside cover is the weekly breakdown, so that I can refer to it as needed. I’ve added some dividers to my journal which correspond to each of the focus areas. That way I can easily jot down my reflections as I feel needed. I keep all the printables that are included in this series in my prayer journal.

Even though I have this plan in place, I don’t limit myself to only praying for certain people on certain days. If someone asks me to pray for them, I try to pray that day. If something is heavy on my heart, I pray about in that moment and it might be when I’m in the car driving. We should always pray as we feel led, but having some kind of a realistic plan in place empowers us to be intentional about praying and growing in God.

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The Story Behind This Series

At the end of last year, God laid it on my heart to be more intentional about praying for others. I had no idea is would lead me to creating this series. As I have put this series together over the last few weeks, a new discovery has resonated in my heart. Somehow, God is drawing me closer to my deep need for Him, by gently nudging me to be more in tune to the needs of others.

Motherhood has deepened my awareness of my own need for God. I am more dependent on Him now than I ever have been. And I feel like I need more time with Him, but I feel like I have less time in my days.

Busyness is one of the greatest tools that the enemy uses to distract us away from God. 

As a stay-at-home mom to a 2 year old, there is a small window of alone time that I have most days. This is usually when my son takes a nap. I use this time prepare meals, do laundry, clean up around the house, write, fit in a quick work-out and have some”quiet time” with God.

The problem is, I’ve let my quiet times fall to the bottom of my list, when they really should be right at the top. I’ve let busyness flood my life, and you know how I feel?

OVERWHELMED.

Exactly how the enemy wants me to feel.

Things finally came home for me this week-end as I was sitting in church. The pastor was talking about achieving goals, since it’s a new year when many people make resolutions. The point was made that our world often gets it backwards. We try to achieve our goals, without first receiving God’s love and truth. When really, we should be taking the time to receive God first, and then we will be more successful at achieving our goals.

I’ve been more focused on achieving—trying to be a good mom, a good wife a good homemaker. And the reason I’m feeling so defeated at the end of the day, even though my intentions are good…

Is because, I’m not first taking the time receive God’s love and truth.

I’m not making enough time to allow my soul to be filled with the the spiritual food that only my Maker can offer me.

God’s love and truth empowers us. And I know in my heart that if I seek Him first, He will fill me with all that I need to achieve my desire to be a good wife, a good mom and so on. He wants all those things for me too, but He knows how much better I can do all those things, when I allow HIM to be my strength.

Maybe you feel overwhelmed too—there is hope.

We can take charge of how we use our time. Yes, there are going to be “those days” where we loose all control—and as a mom, I have plenty of those days. But usually there is a way to make time for the things that matter most. Sometimes it just takes a little rearranging of our priorities.

So, this year I am taking charge of my time. I am working on being more intentional about making time for God, because I know that somehow in doing so—that feeling of being so “overwhelmed” will start to fade.

God’s love always silences the enemy’s lies. 

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For those of you who took the time to follow this series, I really appreciate it and I hope it helps you enrich your prayer life {and relationship with God} this year and beyond. Thank you for all the encouraging feedback that many of you have shared with me over the last two weeks. Your words have been a blessing to me. I would also love to hear ways that you implement prayer into your life. Please share so we can grow together!

Many Blessings,

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(C) 2014 Pocketful of Motherhood

Intentional Prayer Series created by, Hannah Bollinger

Intentional Prayer: Part 3 {Praying For Family, Friends and Beyond}

praying series blog

Last week we went through the first half of this series, and if you missed it you can find both parts here:

Intentional Prayer: Part 1 {Praying For Your Children}

Intentional Prayer: Part 2 {Praying For Your Spouse}

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Today were are looking at Part 3 which covers praying for your family, friends and beyond. This is a much broader area then the first two parts of this series, so the guide for this focus area is broad and can be used in different ways.

This focus area is broken into four main categories of people/ministries to be praying for:

*Family: This may vary based on what kind of a prayer routine you already have in place. You may already have a group of family members that you pray for on a regular basis. If that’s the case, then you might want to choose other extended family members that you aren’t praying for on a regular basis.

*Friends: This can be anyone you consider to be a friend in your life. Maybe it’s a casual friend, maybe it’s a close friend.

*Faith Causes: This area covers any kind of organization/group of people who are dedicated to spreading God’s love to the world—and there are so many to choose from. This could be a church, an outreach ministry, missionaries who do work in other countries, etc.

*Fill In The Blank: This area is for anyone else that you might feel led to pray for, and you might want to challenge yourself to think out of the box here. This could be a co-worker, a neighbor, the cashier at your local grocery store, your daughter’s teacher, you son’s soccer coach, your hair stylist, the mom at that grocery store who looks overwhelmed—you may not even know their name but you can still pray for them.

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Like the first two parts of this series, there is a month-by-month table to guide you through a year of praying in this area—but this one is designed to get filled in by you.

There’s a print-friendly version of the whole table below, but here’s a one month chunk of it to give you an idea:

January

Family:
Friend:
Faith Cause:
Fill In The Blank:

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There are different ways to use this chart, so use it in a way that you feel led. You may want to pray that God would lay people on your heart each month. As he does, fill in the chart. You may start over new each month and pray for a different set of people, or you might feel led to keep praying for people in previous months. There’s not a right or wrong—it’s not a formula. The point is to be more intentional about tuning into the needs of those around you.

“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.” ~1 Timothy 2:1

The more time we spend with the Lord, the more we allow His Love to fill our souls—and the more in tune we become to the things that He cares about. And then the things He cares about, start to become the things we care about too. He will tune us in to the people He wants us to be caring about and praying for, if we take the time to seek Him, and listen.

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This series will be wrapping up on Wednesday with one more area of focus. I will also explain a little bit about why this series is so important to me. In addition, I will be sharing a few ideas of how to bring everything together that we have covered in this series, and implement them into your life in a realistic way. I hope you will join me on Wednesday for the last part of this series!

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{Printable Version: A Year Long Guide To Praying For Family, Friends & Beyond}

Do you have a prayer request? Visit the Prayer Pocket to submit your request.

Many Blessings,

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