(Recently, Kids of the Cross offered a special Parents’ Night focusing on prayer. Helen Keuning has graciously distilled the lessons, along with her own impressions and thoughts, into three blog posts for us. This is the third post. Click here to find the second post–Prayer with Children–and the third post–Prayer by Children.)
by Helen Keuning
“Wow! They actually believe in prayer at this church!” I exclaimed to my husband, Tim, after attending one of my first Children’s Ministries meetings at Church of the Cross nearly eight years ago. Most churches talk a lot about prayer, but I found that other than the brief opening and closing prayer at meetings or occasional sermon series on prayer, not a lot of time was devoted to the practice of prayer.
I was surprised, because at this particular meeting for volunteers, we spent nearly half of our time in prayer for the children of the church, for each other, and for parents. The other half was spent on disseminating information and discussing future plans. It was clear to me that the folks here believed that God was going to do the work in these kids’ lives and our job was simply to present them to him and offer up our efforts on their behalf.
The Children’s Ministry Team led by Deacon Elizabeth Stewart and comprised of Sarah Hoffner, Sonia Keillor, Andrea Lang, Andrea Pope and Alyssa Tennison recently hosted a couple of evening meetings for parents, grandparents and spiritual parents. I attended and am happy to report that the Kids of the Cross ministry here at our church still believes in the power of prayer for our children.
As I entered the meeting, I was warmly greeted and encouraged to sit at a table with coloring pencils and paper. I was invited to write down a name for God in the center of a piece of paper and then write the names of the children who were on my heart around it. These papers were folded up and placed inside a blessing bowl. We were reminded that God hears our prayers and is working on behalf of theses children even before we ask.
Liz Stewart described the goal for the evening: “to be a time of prayer — punctuated by the sharing of some ideas and experience, a little information and resources, and for the Spirit of God to stir up our own desire to be in communion with God in prayer ourselves and make a straight path for the children in our lives.” She divided up the time into three parts: Prayer FOR Kids; Prayer WITH Kids; and Prayer BY Kids. (I will be focusing on only the first topic in this blog, but be assured that two other blogs are on their way.)
Alyssa Tennison began with a brief explanation of the Prayer Ministry for Children that she leads here at COTC. Each family is assigned a prayer partner who commits to praying for those kids by name on a regular basis. How exciting to think that the children in our church are being specifically prayed for from the time that they are in utero through college!
The past few years the theme of the Prayer Ministry has been Blessing. Each month, a new blessing grounded in Scripture has been sent out to the prayer ministers in our church to be used as a springboard for their prayers. Alyssa shared that, “Out of the foundation and wellspring of blessing prayed over the children, we sense God is directing us to ask prayer ministers to begin praying for God to show the kids what it is God has for them to do. They have been bathed in prayer, so what “good works” has He prepared in advance for them to do out of the overflow of blessing prayers they have received?”
As I have reflected on this new direction in asking God to not only bless our children but to make them a blessing to others, I was reminded of an image that the Lord gave me a long time ago. The aging Elm tree in our family’s backyard needed extra care and the tree expert who we called for help had explained that while most people think of the tree as what they can see, at least half of the tree is hidden from sight. As far up and wide the tree was above ground, so too its roots were beneath the ground. Without those roots being healthy and strong, the tree could not thrive.
My prayer during the couple years that I led the Children’s Prayer Ministry was that God would use that ministry to deepen, extend, and nurture those underground, unseen spiritual roots in our church and in our children. Now, my prayer is that from all the nutrients we have received and our children have received from these roots, we might enter a season of beauty and fruitfulness.
Will you please join me in this prayer?