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“What are you going to do when you get older?” This is perhaps one of the most frequent questions asked to a child by teachers, mentors and adults. It’s a good question. It’s a great question. Yet, it’s a terrible question!

What do I mean by that? Shouldn’t we be interested in what children want to as they grow into adulthood? Yes. Shouldn’t we start planning for our children’s future? Yes. Shouldn’t we encourage the children to aim for their goals as they mature? Yes! Yes! Yes! Shouldn’t we wait for them to do this when they are grown. NO!

A great dilemma of childhood is being looked on as if you have nothing to contribute until you have grown into adulthood. A child’s area of “purpose” is most often confined to adolescent activities, school programs and being helpers in Sunday school. There’s nothing wrong with these areas of focus but they can be limiting regarding personal growth. 

John Maxwell teaches a concept called, “The Law of Lid” (you can find his resources online or in many bookstores.) He teaches how a person (and this doesn’t exclude children) will often only rise to the level of expectation and limitation that they are given. Churches often teach this in a leadership series but the concept also applies to children. If we don’t push them to excel, most won’t.

How does this relate to prayer? Most involved in Kids Prayer ministries do push their children to pray. If not, they should. The question we need to ask ourselves is how far and into what areas? Are we satisfied that a child can recite the Lord’s Prayer only? Are we happy if they can pray over a snack, a meal or a Sunday school lesson? Are we content if they can pray for their family before bed? 

In all of the above examples we should be happy, but not content. As trainers we have the responsibility to push those under us to their maximum, spiritual potential. We should push them to pray beyond their own needs or even the needs of their immediate family. We need to train them to pray for their church, their community, their government and their world. As we push them their level of understanding of God’s Kingdom grows and they develop a greater sense of purpose than just a snack-time chant. We should also push them to intercede and travail for the lost and seek God to lead them into what He wants them to pray for. 


Here is an example regarding your local church:

Instead of just praying for the church in a general, non-specific way, share with the children the vision of the church and its current needs. Talk about each ministry of the church, what it does, and how they can pray for that ministry and those involved in it. Bring in the ministry leaders, or even the pastor, and have them share their burden with the children. As they listen, they will gain a greater understanding of the purpose of the church and how it affects their world. It will give them a better understanding of what they can pray for.

Don’t stop there; push them some more. Ask the leaders if there are any ways that the children can help in any area of that ministry. Perhaps they can help with paper work, putting things together, setting up for meetings, etc. Train them to pray for that ministry as they work.

Using this method of training will create ownership and the more a person feels ownership in something the more likely they will not walk away from it, especially when they see results. The younger children may do less than the older children but the point is… they are doing SOMETHING, and they are doing it NOW. Raise the lid and help them grow spiritually and in their prayer life. 

In the beginning I mentioned how that famous question can be great, and yet terrible all at the same time. If our goal for a child’s ministry or a deep prayer life is always in the future then we loose the greatest timespan in their life to train them for it. Statistics prove that a large number of youth leave church by the time they become adults, taking their ministries with them. Don’t wait until they are grown. God gives ministry to children just as He does adults; they just need some guidance and a little push. Add active prayer training with that and you’ll have a child that will forever be changed.You may even be amazed at the leaders you are developing.

This week, ask yourself what you are doing to empower your children in personal ministry and prayer. 

-Colleen Clabaugh

Below are some resources you can use with your children to pray for churches, missionaries, and people groups. 


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