10 Ways for Kids to Connect With God
By Nicki Straza
Nicki Straza is the Family Ministries Pastor at Freedom House in Brantford, Ontario. She is passionate to see people walking in partnership with the Most High King. She is the author of Superhero in Me school curriculum and other kidmin resources. She and her husband, Steve, have two grown children, and a cat.
When prayer and encountering God is left unexplored, prayer life becomes a mundane routine that quickly loses its significance and power. Kids, especially in our attention-deficit culture need to practice “being still” and “tuning in” to God’s presence. As leaders, we need to lead the way for them to encounter God in our classrooms. One way we can do this is by creating a “prayer room” experience with activities, or “stations” (similar to “stations of the Cross”), which has a profound impact on people of all ages in learning to be still with God.
There are a couple of rules for these stations: (1) No talking to others, only to God. This is an opportunity for just the child and God. All talkers are removed unless it is a leader helping a child in a whisper; and (2) No shoes. You are creating a sacred place, a time and place consecrated to God.
Here are 10 activities we use to teach kids how to connect with God:
1) The Cross: This could be made of brown construction-paper taped on a wall or, for young people, a wooden cross with nails. Nail/tape cards that say “forgiven” on the cross. Have guests write a prayer of repentance and pray it to God. Then, they exchange their prayer card for a card that says “forgiven.” This is a visual reminder of both the need for repentance and the price paid for our forgiveness. Verse: 1 John 1:9.
2) The Sand Station: This station has small, glass, craft jars with lids/corks; assorted colored sands; small funnels and spoons; and a tag with Psalm 139:17-19 written on it and a place for them to write their name. They create a take-home vial of colored sands that remind them of how many thoughts God has about them that are good.
3) River of God: Use fabrics and pillows in various shades of blue and silver arranged to look like a river so kids can sit “in the river.” Include smooth stones written with many names of God in metallic or black marker. Instruct kids to sit in the river and find the rock with the name of God that they need in their life right now. They should sit allow God to teach them about who he is. Verse: Proverbs 18:10.
4) Throne of God: This can be a chair, draped royally with a crown on the seat. The instructions include an invitation for kids to approach God’s throne boldly and talk to Him about anything on their heart. Verse: Hebrews 4:16
5) Map of the World: Post a large map of the world and provide adhesive notes and pens at this station. Encourage kids to write a prayer for one or more parts of the world, asking the Holy Spirit to show them how to pray. Verse: Psalm 2:8.
6) Holy of Holies/Tent of Thanks: This space is designed for sitting, laying down or being still. Create a comfortable place with pillows and blankets. Decorate with soft white lights and tea lights. You can include some Bibles and thank you cards. The objective is to encourage kids to spend time focused on God and express thankfulness to Him. Verse: Psalm 100:4.
7) Letter to God: Set this station up in the center of the room using a table, chairs and mailbox. Provide stationery with sealable envelopes and colorful writing pens. Encourage kids to write a letter to God about anything they wish to say. Honor their privacy by not reading these letters, instead pray over them that the Holy Spirit would work in their lives. Verse: Philippians 4:6-7.
8) Who Am I? This can be done two ways: using a full-length mirror and labels taped around the frame, or as a small take-home craft where they can decorate their own mirror with the labels that hold significance for them. Labels should include things like Loved, Accepted, Forgiven, Wonderfully Made, Child of God, and so on. Instruct children to identify which of these labels they find hard to believe about themselves and to talk to God about it. Verse: Psalm 139:14.
9) Made in God’s Image: Provide Play-Doh for kids to create their own creations. Instruct children to imagine the delight God has when He was creating them. This activity works excellently if you have younger children. Provide a leader/volunteer to help maintain the no-talking rule. Verse Genesis 1:27.
10) Called to Love: Provide craft supplies, stencils, markers, stickers and construction paper so kids can create a card of encouragement for someone else. Instruct them to pray and ask God about who to create card for and what to say to encourage them. The task is not complete until the child gives the card to the person they created it for. Verse Matthew 10:8.
What is the Holy Spirit saying to you about your group? Be creative, partner with the Holy Spirit in this and see what He wants to do!
Tips for a Simple Set-Up
The set-up for this doesn’t need to be elaborate, just inviting and easy to navigate. Here are some hints:
• Low lighting: Use white Christmas lights, battery operated tea lights, and glow sticks and lamps.
• Worship music: Calm, quiet worship music; relaxation/soaking music; or gentle instrumentals enable kids to feel they can pray without being heard.
• Clear instructions: Post signs at each station that describe what to do along with a question kids should think about while they are at the station.
• Time: Leave time for kids to linger. Don’t rush them and let them go to whatever station they want.
• Tissues: Place tissue boxes around for when encounters with God become emotional. Do not jump in to counsel; instead, follow up with that young person the next week.