Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Children's Prayer Chart

This is the chart we use to help our children learn how to have a personal prayer time. You may print it for your personal use or use the ideas in it to make one for your own children. If you would like to use it, click on the link, download the file (I made it in LibreOffice's PowerPoint equivalent), and print it two-sided on cardstock. This is what it might look like after the 4.5 year old colors the front and adds illustrations to the back:

How we use it:
The chart is meant to teach young children how to have a daily time of prayer following the ACTS model. Adoration in our family is covered during our family prayer time, which takes place just before the time we use this chart with our daughters, but I always keep it on the chart so they don't forget the importance of praising God. Someday our schedule may change or they may need to take on more responsibility for their personal prayer life, and at that point they will need to remember to praise God on their own.

My husband or I will sit between our 2 girls with the chart in hand and point to the Adoration part just to remind them that it is part of their prayer time, but a part we just completed for the day. Then the parent will lead a prayer with the girls repeating it and contributing one or two fruits of the Spirit. It might sound something like "Dear Jesus, I love you. Please forgive my sins and help me today to be patient and gentle. Amen."

Then I, as the parent, will say "Thank you Jesus for...". Our daughters know they're supposed to contribute at least a couple things they are grateful for, but sometimes they need a little nudge. I'll add a couple events that have taken place within the last 24 hours and this is usually enough for them to remember their role and chime in with things they are excited about or people they have seen recently.

The Supplication section is broken into general categories of people my husband and I think our children ought to pray for regularly. For each category they are expected to name at least one person. Family can mean anyone in our immediate or extended family; friends and neighbors can be anyone important to them who is not already covered under family; Sick includes people we know with serious illnesses and the much less dramatic colds and flus that we hear about. Special Intentions is left uncolored since it changes regularly. Some of the special intentions we've prayed for have been a special event coming up, a retreat people we know are attending, the person we packed a shoebox for as part of Operation Christmas Child, and a Christian summer camp.

If you'd like to make you're own chart, adapted to your own family's needs, here are some other ideas we've used or considered using on previous prayer charts:

  • Under "Adoration", list words or phrases that children might use to praise God.
  • Replace the fruits of the Spirit with a simple heart under "Confession" and focus on love of God, His love for us, and/or particular sins that need to be confessed and forgiven.
  • Use magazine pictures or cut-down family photos to illustrate the chart.
  • Adjust the supplication list to categories important to your family or break it down into 7 short lists (one for each day of the week). Although we discovered that 6 categories were too many for preschoolers, they may not be for older children.

I find that by using cardstock for the chart, which is used almost daily but not too roughly, our chart lasts 6 months to a year before becoming bent and torn enough that it needs to be replaced. By then our kids' coloring skills have improved enough that it's good to replace the chart anyways and let them maintain a sense of pride and ownership as they use the chart every day.

Using this visual to teach my children how to pray works for me.

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