The past two years, I experienced the joy of being a part of a joint church project in our town.
400 children and around 30 adults gathered from 10 different primary schools over the week. I was part of the team giving those children a full day experience around the topic of Christian values. It fits right into their Religious Education curriculum in school. An already busy week, the week filled with extra meetings and events was thrown into the mix.
I was far, far busier than I am used to being. I didn’t sleep well all week, and I was exhausted by the end of it. But to be in the middle of all that learning was a delight. For some of the children, it was their first experience with so many Christians at one time. Still others found themselves for the first time considering Christian values in any depth. And others prayed on their own terms rather than just saying “amen” at the end of a prayer in school assembly or reciting a memorized school prayer for the first time.
As each group came into my space, we talked about prayer as a request. Then we considered questions as prayer: who, what, when, where, why and how. I explained to the children that when Christians pray, we are not just talking for the sake of talking. We take part in what we expect to be a two-way conversation. As Christians, we tell God our requests and our struggles. And then we expect God to respond to us in some way.
We talked about some of the ways which God might respond to our questions. He uses people we already know, family, friends, colleagues, teachers and so on. We discussed people answering the questions we’ve asked God without even realizing they did it. We chatted about finding our answers in books, on TV, the Internet and in movies, through nature, our pets and all sorts of other ways.
The children then experienced a mini prayer space of comprised of four activities. These allowed them to explore:
- expressing their worries
- where they fit in the communities they are part of
- being still and quiet
- as well as adding saying “thank you”, “sorry”, “I forgive” and “wow” on top of the “please” and “why?” etc we already discussed
Sometimes I helped out where it was apparent children misunderstood instructions, or struggled to do what was suggested. But most of the time, I took these moments to sit back and watch. Yes, of course, some children struggled with some of the concepts. On the whole, I saw children who, with no prior experience with church or Christians, engage freely with prayer.
Because they were given the opportunity to do so on their terms.
I came away musing over the idea that I can engage with God on my terms. I’m not talking about ignoring God’s terms. It doesn’t have to be on the terms of the church I attend, or the one I grew up in, or whatever the current loudest Christian voice on the Internet says. I engage with Him on my terms. How do you engage with God on your terms that might be different than those around you?How do you engage with God? Is there one right way?Click To Tweet
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