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Getting Children To Pray In Public

I teach children mainly from non-Christian homes, and in the approximate age range 6 to 11. I have found that it is relatively easy to get the younger children to pray out loud in class, but those aged about 8 and above are more self-conscious, and so less inclined to do so. The following is a technique that I have found to be very effective in encouraging older children to pray in public.

With each new class, I start off the same way, by getting the children to go through a simple routine. I say "God is good." The children have to reply "All the time." I then say "All the time," and the children say "God is good."
When the children are used to this (just one or two weeks), I get different children to do the leading instead of myself. Then after one or two more weeks, I get the children who want to lead to think up their own words to describe God, i.e. "God is wonderful, awesome, powerful, marvelous" etc. etc.

When the children are used to this routine, I say "Today, instead of starting by talking about God, I want you to start by talking to God, by saying God, you’re good, wonderful, awesome etc. We won’t do the ‘All the time’ part, but as many of you as want to can participate." Usually there is no shortage of volunteers, and the children have actually started to pray in public.

A few weeks later, I invite the children, if they wish, to make their prayers a little longer, by thanking God for something. So they may pray "God, you’re wonderful, and I thank you for sending Jesus." "God you’re awesome, and thank you for my mum." etc. To encourage the children, I often compliment them on their prayers. "What a great prayer." "That was a wonderful thing to pray for." etc.

Using this procedure, I find that most children are eager to participate in our opening prayer to God. I have had one or two classes where only a few children would volunteer to pray, but this was easily overcome by offering an incentive. I say, "I have a piece of paper in my pocket, with a number on it. If the number is 1, the first person who prays will get a little prize (e.g. a bookmark), if the number is 10, the tenth person to pray will get the prize, etc." I have never needed an incentive for the following week. Once children "take the plunge" and pray out loud for the first time, they are eager to keep doing it. I usually find that after a few weeks, whenever I enter a class, the hands of about half the children shoot up, indicating that they want to participate in the opening prayer!

by Maurice Sweetsur, http://objectlessons.blogspot.com/

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