God, Bless the Children Prayer Prompt September 2022
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The ‘Say No To Censorship’ Rally on Front of London City Hall
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“Take Me For A Spin”
The Top 20 Christian Music Albums for April 2024
Shine Your Light and Let the Whole World See

Published September 2022

Provided by CCNL (Christian Churches Network of London) | Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Hear that sound of cheering? Woohoo, it’s begins again. Education brings children many opportunities for new learning, new friendships, much discovery, some uncertainties still and maybe a bit of apprehension for both kids and parents.

The recent school years have indeed been challenging for children. Difficult as school was interrupted multiple times, a fear of COVID loomed over us, an over-abundance of screen time happened including much on-line learning, fewer extra-curricular or physical activities took place, maintenance of distancing in social interactions with friends and extended family was important, opportunity for spiritual input was diminished from the broader community, and increased anxieties about physical and mental health grew...a long list. There are now logically concerns about identified gaps in learning, different for each child, that educators are seeking to mitigate. Most of our values, habits, attitudes, knowledge foundations and practices are shaped in these early formative years of life. Many gratefully can credit a teacher, neighbour, grandparent, or camp counsellor for added lifegiving words of encouragement, wisdom and sometimes needed stability in our early years that impacted us for a lifetime.

It is therefore both an important privilege and a sacred obligation to pray as a community of faith in London for elementary school-aged kids this month – those in our families, neighbourhoods, churches, and local schools. Across Canada and around the world.

Think about this biblical example for a moment: As people brought children to Jesus hoping he might touch them, the disciples tried to shoo them away. Jesus rebuked them in Luke 18: “Let these children alone. Don’t get between them and me. These children are the kingdom’s pride and joy.” And in Mark 9 Jesus asked the disciples as they arrived back to Capernaum, “What were you discussing on the road?” TThe silence was deafening—they had been arguing with one another over who among them was greatest. He sat down and summoned the Twelve. “So you want first place? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all.” He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, “Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me—God who sent me.” As adults, we easily get caught up in our concerns, our needs, our dailies, our plans and somehow consider them so much more important than children’s concerns. Once again, Jesus turned the world values upside down. Let’s follow His example and pray often, passionately, lovingly for children.

Holy God, we ask these things:

Help us to love children as much as you do.
Again and again in Scripture, we see your tender heart for children, your willingness to devote time to them, your recognition of their societal status, and your zeal for protecting them. Fill us with that kind of active love.

Give children great courage, brave hearts, hopeful spirits and abundant joy as they return to the classroom. You created children with curious minds and tender spirits in their early years to soak up learning at a rate that is astounding. Comfort them when they feel anxious. Open their ears and eyes to discovering new ideas.

Help each find a friend…and help each seek to be a good friend. Friendships can make all the difference at school. It is a tough world where bullying and meanness can easily take hold – not a new problem but seemingly a major growing one. Proverbs tells us “Troublemakers start fights; gossips break up friendships”. May we teach our children to treasure the joy of a friendship, to share and be “a friend that loves through all kinds of weather”. Not easy. Not everyone needs to become a “bestie’ or BFFs for life – many friends may be for only a season. Some of us may recall fondly a childhood friend that stuck with us and remember them as a precious gift from you God when most needed. Maybe we were that friend to someone who also needed a friend, even to one of those ‘troublemakers and gossips’ – difficult children deeply need friends!

Current studies reveal that months of isolation hindered not only our adult social interaction skills, but for children even more so. Kids must learn how to listen, to observe, to collaborate and to be able to share differing opinions or ideas respectfully, to be with those not just exactly like them! To play well with others does not come effortlessly... it will however prove to be a valued life skill.

Ahhh, dealing with technology... A friend recently shared a child’s question “Is praying like texting or messaging God?” Hmmm. This generation of children has never known what it is to not be able to just ask your phone or device on the kitchen counter for answers to any questions immediately. A dictionary, encyclopedia, telephone book are unknown tools! Talking with friends and family around the world online with face-to-face videos have been a great blessing for our children during the pandemic to keep relationships connected. Eight-and-nine-year-old kids are already learning to code, to write programs to create new tech solutions to future problems. But since we realize there is also a dark side to advanced technology, God we ask that you guard them from the multiple devious ways that evil things have open entrance into our homes and creep into their lives. We pray for protection against the online bullying, gambling, sexual trafficking, privacy violations, body image shaming, deceptions, addictions to approval and likes, instant gratification, false lives – destructive, cruel means of hurting the physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and mental health of our children. Lord God, we also pray for much wisdom and discernment as responsible adults in our children’s spheres to talk openly and frequently about these challenges, to monitor them diligently even when our kids may be mad at us, to model good behaviors ourselves about how, when, where, and why we use our own devices. Children are subtly learning at a young age from us to “pose” for Instagram shots, long before they can give permission to us as adults to share those photos with everybody and anybody. Make us more cautious and conscious that what we demonstrate now has implications for their future behaviours.

We ask that you motivate parents and grandparents to start from an early age to disciple and instruct our children in the context of a loving caring family. We too easily assume that Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” is actually a magic formula of religious sorts, a super shield of protection, an absolute guaranteed promise of future faith…. but it is not!! You created us all God with freedom of choice. And even though you are the perfect parent, you also have willfully disobedient children who choose to stray from your love and instruction. Proverbs 22:6 is however a solemn exhortation for parents to consistently live what it looks like to follow Jesus, and share your sacrificial love, your faithfulness and your greater purposes for our lives and their lives. Deuteronomy 6:7 says this about communicating these important lessons: “Teach them diligently to your children and speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” We pray for parents find ways to naturally weave your story God into the daily rhythms of family life.

We are grateful for all those who work in the education system... we pray for teachers and assistants, for principals and custodians, for school board members and school bus drivers, lunchroom supervisors and volunteers. May each adult who invests in the lives of educating our children be people of integrity, thoughtfulness, kindness, with an abundance of patience. Protect their health, their mental well-being, their decision-making, and their on-going learning as educators. Each is important in the care and development of children.

We pray for those children who come to school hungry. In these challenging financial times, too many children’s basic nutritional needs are not being met. Difficult to learn and pay attention when you are hungry. We thank you for breakfast programs in schools, for local organizations like LUSO, Maycourt and the Ontario Student Nutrition programs, for local food banks, churches and meal programs who provide meals where needed. Help us God to also see needs close to us - give insight for those in our sphere who may need meal assistance, who may have lost jobs, or partners, or just having trouble weekly stretching their rent and grocery budgets. We pray too for children far away from us, where organizations like Compassion, World Vision, and Hope Story and more seek to meet not only the nutritional needs but also educational and spiritual needs of kids around the world. All need our financial support and prayers.

Protect children from those who would do harm to them. Jesus spoke some pretty harsh words about people who hurt kids in Matthew 18 (MSG) “But if you give them a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t. You’d be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck. Doom to the world for giving these God-believing children a hard time! Hard times are inevitable, but you don’t have to make it worse—and it’s doomsday to you if you do.” When Jesus had something important to say, he often used hyperbole to express the sheer magnitude of what he was trying to communicate. He knows what evil does. We are sure that your heart Jesus weeps as ours do as we grow in understanding the horrendous impact of residential schools in our country on too many indigenous families and communities from generation to generation. The fact that it was done in the name of Jesus, of religion, makes it hurt all the more when it was really used for the pursuit of power, of money, of property, and of destruction of a culture different from their own. Watching the recent papal visits this summer, we saw faces and heard stories of many whose lives were damaged – may those stick in our minds and souls. We pray for ongoing healing, for reconciliation to continue, for names to be released and records unlocked, for the doctrine of discovery in the papal bull to be withdrawn, for promises to be kept and for compensation to be made in order to move forward. But these revelations are sadly not the only crimes against children: we seem to learn in the news daily of clergy, teachers, hockey or gymnastic coaches, parents, scout leaders, soldiers in wars zones like Ukraine and Somalia and Afghanistan…sin keeps taking advantage of those who are most vulnerable.

How do we strike a balance between this honest creeping fear of harm or abuse of our children with the sincere desire for children to experience nurturing healthy relationships with trustworthy people outside of family members that are beneficial, enriching and can make a discernable difference in our children’s lives for the good in so many ways. Right now, many churches want to provide more quality programs for kids but are struggling as they are unable yet to safely staff them. We pray for more volunteers to step up in churches and in ministries to care for kids. We need people like you of integrity, kindness, skills, full of Jesus’ enthusiasm to say “Children matter – how can I help?”

We ask that your angels in heaven watch over our children daily. It comforts us to know that children are even more important to you God than they are to us! Jesus said in Matthew 18:10: “Beware that you don’t look down on any of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly Father”. We confess that we do not totally understand what that means or how your angels work – a great mystery. Hollywood images of guardian angels just mess up any theological concepts we may have. Gramma or Grampa do not turn into angels when they die and are not charged with watching over us. But the sovereign, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God does see and know and love us extravagantly beyond what we can ever imagine - vast beyond all measure.

Every morning and every night, may we make it our habit God to pray your blessings over our children and entrust them to your loving care, whether they are about to be born, babies, toddlers, preschoolers, school-age, teenagers, young adults, actually independent adults and maybe even parents themselves…. wherever they are and wherever we are:

“May God bless you and protect you. May God smile on you and be gracious to you. May God show you his favor and give you his peace.” Numbers 6:24-26(NLT)

“May the Lord keep you from all harm as you trust in Him. May He watch over your life, your coming and your going, both now and forevermore.” Psalm 121:7-8 (NIV)

“May God pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 (MSG)

Finally God, remind us often that as we welcome any child, it is as if we are welcoming you – the triune God - Jesus, Father and Holy Spirit. Just as we started this prayer prompt, we recall Mark 9:37: “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me.” AMEN