I was recently asked to be the videographer for a wedding. As I had never officially filmed any event outside of the church, I turned to YouTube. Almost every video or article stated that the first thing to do is talk to the bride and groom. This is to find out what specific shots they want, the schedule for the day, who the photographer is, how we can work together, and so much more. Prioritizing communication with the bride and groom makes me think of my work in children’s ministry. To truly know what God wants us to do in ministry, we need to communicate with Him first.
Daniel Henderson states in his book Old Paths New Power, “In church life, prayer is not the only thing we do, but it must be the first thing we do. It can become the very environment of the ministry. It must be our first resolve not our last resort if our work is to be marked by the unmistakable power of the Holy Spirit.”
Before Jesus did anything, He spent time communicating with the Father. We all know the stories. Prior to starting His ministry, He spent time fasting and praying in the desert. Throughout His ministry, He made time to get away and commune with His heavenly Father. Before Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice, He spent time in the garden, alone, talking to God. This shows, not just the need but the significance of communication with God through prayer in a believer’s life. If Jesus prioritized prayer, we need to prioritize prayer.
So, how can we constantly stay in communication with God?
When assessing my own life and ministry, I find myself failing to make time and space for it. I struggle with scheduling time to be alone with God. I believe this is a struggle for many leaders. Church ministry can be extremely busy, especially through a pandemic. And now that we are reopening our physical doors, we have twice as much work to do. Martin Luther once said, “I have so much to do today that I'm going to need to spend three hours in prayer in order to be able to get it all done.” Imagine if we approached our day in the same way. If you know the power that prayer has to change your day, your life, your attitude, your services, and so much more, constant communication with God won’t feel like another task to check off, but instead, talking with God feels like breathing—normal, routine, essential.
In what way can we help the next generation to have a thriving prayer life with God?
The answer is clear: teach our children to pray. Communication with God is where a child’s relationship with Jesus is strengthened and deepened. Yet, most children are not taught how to pray or when to pray. So, how do we fix this?
- One practical way is by making space for kids to pray out loud in front of their peers. This practice helps them to become more fluent and less nervous to start a conversation with God.
- Another strategy that I learned from a fellow children's pastor is to simply take time during the service to allow the kids to pick their posture of prayer. This could look like kids on their knees, on their backs, on their feet, or in any other posture. This strategy teaches our children that there is no right or wrong way to pray.
- Another way we can teach children how to pray—leading by example. Normally, churches pray on a Sunday morning, but are we, as leaders, really taking time to genuinely seek God? Has talking with God become only part of the order of service? I have been challenged to make prayer a priority in our children’s services by diving into prayer myself.
Many of us have become so focused on having a fun-filled kids service packed with games and energetic songs that we forget about including God. A God-anointed service will have a far greater impact on children than any energy-packed, man-made service could do. Systems and methods do have their place in the church. As a videographer, I must be equipped to record a special day, but the church must be equipped for the kids that come through their doors every Sunday morning. However, our ultimate goal should not be fun but should be communing with God. We want our kids to grow into strong men and women of God rooted in His Word. So, what is the best way to reach this goal? There is no better way than getting on our knees, like Jesus, in prayer to our Father in heaven.
Hannah Ward graduated from Emmanuel College with a degree in Early Childhood Education. After graduation, she accepted an internship working in Children’s ministry and has been working in some capacity ever since. She taught fourth grade before entering full-time into the ministry. 0Her passion is to see students become rooted in their relationship with Jesus.