In our Children Worship! study, we are learning how worship serves as a conversation by provid-ing a time for us to talk with, listen to, and respond to God. Most recently, we have been studying how the different prayers used in worship contribute to and guide us in this ongoing dialogue. The time spent in prayer during worship is, however, actually more than our recitation of a written prayer or our pause to listen to the prayers offered by our pastor or others on behalf of the congregation. In fact, if we were to look closely at our order of worship, we would find that there are often other “times of prayer.” For example, when the people of God praise and thank God through music or responsive reading, these are voiced or sung prayers. Likewise, times of confession as well as opportunities to reflect on and petition God for personal needs or intercede (by spoken prayer or loving action) for the needs of others can also be times of prayer.
For children to grow in their ability to participate in worship, though, they need to recognize the language of prayer and its many postures. Words used in and about prayer, such as praise, thanksgiving, intercession, confession, forgiveness, lament, and amen (which means “so be it”), are important for children to know and understand. Taking the time to help the children we know learn this language of prayer helps children feel more comfortable in using and hearing the words, and, in turn, helps provide them with a sense of belonging.
Remember, too, that when we pray we also have the opportunity to use postures of prayer to show our relationship with God. Often, we bow our heads to show honor and reverence. Sometimes, people lift their head or hands to show their awe and wonder or they kneel to show obedience. Some pray with their eyes closed to focus solely on God while others pray with their eyes open to notice God’s wonderful world and the people who need God’s love and care. How many postures of prayer do you use during the worship service or during your own times of personal and private prayer? Encourage children to pray in ways that show their relationship with God.