Stop Sign Prayer
by Kim Allen, Director of SHINE Children's Ministry
My friend Courtney has an amazing routine with her children. Each morning, as they are leaving the neighborhood for school, prayer begins at the first stop sign. You might be thinking: “That would be the last thing on my mind!” However, her “prayer monitors” in the back seat will always remind her if she forgets. They have a simple prayer that they recite together and then each child offers up one of their own requests and Courtney closes. Sometimes they tell her she prays too long, but for the most part, it’s a win!
There is a simple beauty about praying with children. They are like sponges, soaking up the living water that prayer is. Children are so teachable. It is not a performance and no one is going to care whether we use a bunch of big impressive words. We can pray about important stuff, like our nation or our school day or our cat. It’s all important.
After all, prayer is really just communion with God. As parents, we love a meaningful, heartfelt conversation with our children; God invites us to the same. His desire is relationship, but the benefits of prayer for us are endless:
- The peace of God’s presence.
- The preparation of our hearts for something that is coming our way, ready or not.
- Laying down a burden too heavy to carry.
- Giving up control (or the illusion of control) over something which we would do well to let Him handle.
- Surrendering our dreams to His best plans for us.
We may be under the impression that prayer is something we schedule, like a dental appointment or soccer practice. While it’s always a great idea to set aside time for concentrated, uninterrupted prayer, that reality escapes most busy parents on many days.
But hold on! God knew that was exactly what would happen, way back when He told Moses and the Israelites in Deuteronomy 6:6-9:
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
The whole “sit at home and walk along the road, lie down and get up” thing is for real. That’s the life of a parent; we feel like we are in constant motion. Stopping to kneel down on the kitchen floor for a holy moment is few and far between. God knows this. He’s with us all day, every day. And He still says, “Come! Even if you are loading car seats or washing sippie cups or driving to piano lessons. I am with you.”
Courtney’s routine is not rocket science. It is one parent’s attempt to follow the instructions that God gave to Moses. She has a captive audience in the car--what better time to pray with her children, orienting their family toward God for a fresh start to their day? What might you impress on your children with a daily routine of prayer? God may be using that stop sign in your neighborhood as more than just a stop sign. It may be a sign to pray with your children, even on the go. Here are some starters for you!
Stop Sign Prayer
Good morning, God.
This is Your day.
We are Your children.
Please show us the way.
In Jesus’ Name,
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy name;
Thy kingdom come:
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil,
For thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever. Amen.
The Apostle’s Creed
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
He descended into hell;
on the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from there He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sin,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting. Amen.
Hear me, Lord, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
2 Guard my life, for I am faithful to you;
save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God; 3 have mercy on me, Lord,
for I call to you all day long.
4 Bring joy to your servant, Lord,
for I put my trust in you.
5 You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
abounding in love to all who call to you.
6 Hear my prayer, Lord;
listen to my cry for mercy.
7 When I am in distress, I call to you,
because you answer me.
8 Among the gods there is none like you, Lord;
no deeds can compare with yours.
9 All the nations you have made
will come and worship before you, Lord;
they will bring glory to your name.
10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds;
you alone are God.
11 Teach me your way, Lord,
that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your love toward me;
you have delivered me from the depths,
from the realm of the dead.
14 Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God;
ruthless people are trying to kill me—
they have no regard for you.
15 But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
16 Turn to me and have mercy on me;
show your strength in behalf of your servant;
save me, because I serve you
just as my mother did.
17 Give me a sign of your goodness,
that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,
for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.
The Breadbox is our Children's Ministry email. This monthly publication arrives chock-full information about SHINE, but also tips and resources on how you can disciple your small people.