I believe that the prayers of a child are powerful. Their pure little hearts are closer to God than ours and the things they ask for in prayer are often far less selfish and what we ask for.
Every evening we gather as a family and sit cross legged on the floor of the kid’s room. After a few prayers recited together we go around and do intentions, starting with our 2 year old and ending with my husband. We have been doing this for years and very often it is a powerful thing. It is powerful to hear dad ask for forgiveness for loosing his temper, to hear mom pray thank God for each child, even after a hard day, and to name all of our beloved family members and ask God to bless them.
Gus, our oldest, has long been a prayer warrior. It all started with a little girl named Gia. The daughter of one of my husband’s cousins, Gia suffered through a long, complicated illness with few answers and months and months in a hospital far from home. And Gus prayed for her every single night, without fail. Remarkably, Gia is now home, healthy and we still talk about her as evidence that God really does answer prayers, something that Gus has taken to heart as he continues to pray for his new list of intentions. Top of the list now is a little baby named Lulu that he heard about at school, that was born early and is in a NICU out in California.
But, let’s just be real here. Prayer time in this household is usually not magical. Often we are breaking up fights or reminding kids to pay attention. Or both. And, very often the things the kids pray for sort-of misses the mark. Bedazzled by a lit candle the kids will pray for candles and their blanket and candy… And we have to remind them, right then and there, what it mean to pray for someone and why it’s important.
With Advent coming right up I decided to do a little work on our intentions outside of our family prayer time. I created these very simple My Advent Prayers Booklets. They are just one page and, through the magic of very simple origami, fold up into a booklet.
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Here is what it looks like:
The booklets are very simple. On each of the 6 inside pages children plan out their intentions by either listing names (for older children) or drawing an image. The pages list the following intentions: My Family, My Friends, The Sick, The Sad, The Poor, The Whole World.
We just colored and put together our books this morning. Since all of my kids are pre-readers it took a little bit of explaining, but in the end I feel like we had a very fruitful time together. We talked about why we pray for our family and friends. We talked about who we know that is sick and needs our prayers. We talked about the ways people might be sad, and why they need God’s help. We talked about what the poor are in need of. And finally, we talked, just a little bit, about our whole world, and how we can pray for the president and those in power that make the laws, and most especially how we need to pray to protect the little babies not yet born.
Assembling the booklets is actually very easy, once you see it done. It’s just complicated to explain, and I know if I try I’ll just confuse us both. So, I shot this super low quality video of the process. Watch it muted unless you want to hear the chatter and racket of my house. And yes, I have my phone taped to a chair for this video, because I thought that would be better than placing the phone in the hands of a 5 year old. Oh, and it’s upside down. Nailed it.
We plan on pulling out these little booklets each night for prayer during Advent. The kids can look through their books and remember all of the people that we need to pray for. The prayers might change, as new illnesses come up or new issues in our world arise, but these big intentions will continue to be important and thanks to the pictures they drew, they can begin to recall these intentions on their own.
I really hope these booklets bear great fruit in my family. I would love it if you used it with your family, and if you do, please send me any thoughts or additions you’d like to make.. Here is the link to the file, once again, if you are interested in using it.
Have a very blessed Advent!