“I’ll pray for Luther!”
That’s my son, the little echo at our nighttime family prayer sessions.
It’s missionary prayer night and we’ve pulled up a list of prayer requests from missionary kids around the world.
As I read each request, I assign my kids to pray.
“Catherine, you can pray for Luther,” I say.
This is when my four-year-old stakes his claim. “I want to pray for Luther, too!”
He hops in like this with our every request.
Pray for these missionaries. “I want to pray for the missionaries!”
Pray for Nicaragua. “I want to pray for Nicaragua!”
Pray for Nepal. “I want to pray for Nepal!”
And when he bows his little head and asks God to “please help Nepal,” I pray also that God receives the precious gift of small prayers for a big need.
I am imperfect at this as a mom, growing and learning but certainly not there yet when it comes to teaching my kids that the world is so much bigger than us, so much bigger than middle school problems and playground drama.
I want them to consider others, to keep perspective, and to see a world that needs Jesus.
So, I’m learning mostly from other moms about ways to teach my kids to think internationally and to pray mission-ally for the world.
Here are some of the tools I’ve found. If you have a resource to share, please comment below! I’d love to find new ways to pray for the world as a family,
The IMB Pray app:
You can visit the prayer page for the Southern Baptist International Mission Board here and view daily prayer requests from around the world. But, we personally love to use the IMB Pray app on my phone. Once a week during our family devotions, I open up the “Pray with Missionary Kids” section on the app and we read through their prayer requests. It’s great for my children to connect that missionary kids are real kids close to their own age who need God’s help with making friends, learning languages, being away from home, and moving away from family.
My friend introduced me to this definitive global prayer handbook and I fell in love. We use the book, Operation World, a few times a month as a family. It includes a prayer calendar in the front of the book that shows you what country you can pray for on a particular day. If we read every detail in this encyclopedic book, it would be completely overwhelming. But, we go over the basics with the kids. We open up our world map and find the country, we read a little about its history and current struggles and then choose a few prayer requests to focus on as a family.
Operation World also released an abridged version of their prayer guide so it’s a little less overwhelming, called Pray for the World.
They also list some helpful prayer resources on their website, including their prayer calendar: http://www.operationworld.org/country-lists
Pray for your sponsored children:
I’ve found that it’s so easy to let Compassion or World Vision automatically withdrawal money from my bank account each month without actively engaging in prayer or relationship with our sponsored children. Whenever we receive an update on a sponsored child or a letter….or when we remember to write letters around holidays and birthdays, we also take time to pray for that child at night before bed. We ask God specifically to help them know Jesus, help their family, help them overcome poverty, help them make good choices, and help them in school and with career choices.
When you pack a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child, be sure to pray over it!
We love packing shoeboxes full of toys, school supplies and hygiene items and sending them via Operation Christmas Child to needy children around the world . Collection week is in mid-November each year. Before we carry those boxes into the collection site, we take a few moments to pray over the children who will receive them. When we use the tracking labels via Samaritan’s Purse, we also receive an email after a few months telling us where our shoeboxes were delivered. That’s another great opportunity to learn about those countries, pull out our map, and pray for the people who live there.
Kids on Mission
The Kids on Mission website (run by the Southern Baptist International Mission Board) offers resources on different countries that can be plugged into any children’s curriculum, but can also be adapted by families to use at home. Each unit includes activities like a map, a video, a theme verse, a game and/or photos of the country.
If you hear that The Compassion Experience is coming to a nearby city/town, please go! Take your kids and just go! It’s an amazing event for families where you can walk through replicas of African ghettos or slums in Ecuador and the like and see how child sponsorship can changes the lives of kids, their families, and their whole communities. In this walk-through tour, each family member wears headphones and hears the narrative from the perspective of one particular child. They even have child-sensitive head sets for younger children in case some of the events are too intense for them. It is an eye-opening experience full of impact that made child sponsorship and praying for those in poverty more real and tangible than anything we’ve ever done as a family.