Connecting well using creative prayer

16 May 2019

Becky Sedgwick explores how we can use creative prayer well to enhance our connection with God.

We can all find prayer difficult from time to time. I have composed many shopping lists as my concentration wanes, and as a naturally fidgety person I often find that doodling or using something like prayer beads can really help me pray well.

I love prayer stations and creative prayer, and have had and seen the most profound encounters with God using creative prayer ideas. But with children it can be tricky. Sometimes the excitement of the activity can take over and it can be difficult to help them focus on the prayer bit. Many of us will enjoy creative prayer ourselves or it may be part of the curriculum your kids are using at church. So how can we help them connect well using their creativity?

Focus on connection

  • Be clear about what makes prayer prayer. It’s not the words or the way we express ourselves. It’s connection with God. The essence of prayer is God connecting with me and me connecting with God. In Parenting for Faith, we call this chat and catch, and you can find out more about it here.

  • As you help your child grow in prayer, focus initially on building their heart to heart connection with God, so that they become confident in finding their own ways to connect with him before adding in other activities.

  • Help them discover their natural creativity in prayer. We can sometimes be anxious that children will find praying boring, but chat and catch is a naturally exciting and creative process. Many children find creative ways to express or record their prayers, like journaling, dance or drawing. Be led by them, or you may want to leave out pens and paper or whatever creative medium they love, and suggest that they might want to chat and catch using those.

Create windows and framing connection

  • If you pray creatively, create windows into your praying so that your child sees that the creativity is focussed on connection and not an end in itself. For example, let them sit with you while you colour and reflect (out loud) on Bible verses.

  • Frame the idea of it for them so they can see how the activity helps you connect with God: ‘When I’m building this brick tower I ask God to show me one person to pray for for each brick I put in.’ ‘Whenever God shows me a special verse in the bible I like to copy it out and put it around my mirror so I see it everyday and can chat to him about it.’

  • As you use the creative prayer activity frame as you go: ‘We’re going to use these pipecleaners to help us chat and catch’; ‘When you light the candle it’s like a sign to yourself that you are setting aside a special time to chat to God and catch back from him’; ‘We’ve got these happy and sad faces for you to choose, and then you can chat to God about which one you’ve chosen and why and see what you catch back.’

Prioritise connection in the activity

  • If you are using a creative prayer activity, ensure you build in time for connection. For example, if the activity is to write the name of someone who needs to know God’s love on a paper person shape, give them say one minute to chat to God about whose name he wants them to write before writing the name down. You could also then ask them to chat to God about if there’s anything specific he wants to say about or to that person and see what they catch.

  • You may need to be careful about when you let them get their hands on the creative stuff; chat and catch will probably be easier if there’s no distraction in their hands!

  • If you can, be selective about what activities you choose for your child. You are the expert in your child and will know which ones might really encourage them to connect well with God and which ones might not!

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