Africa Children’s Prayer Day — Practising the Presence Of God
The most holy and necessary practice in our spiritual life is the presence of God. That means finding constant pleasure in His divine company, speaking humbly and lovingly with him in all seasons, at every moment, without limiting the conversation in any way. -Brother Lawrence, Practising the Presence of God
Be earnest and unwearied and steadfast in your prayer [life], being [both] alert and intent in [your praying] with thanksgiving.
Over the last few years, ChildNet Tuamke have rallied children across Kenya and eventually other African countries around prayer. This saw the gathering of children as several churches hosted and facilitated prayer for children from different schools, denominations and churches. The annual multi-location events served as powerful opportunities to mobilise children across Africa to pray for their families, peers, leaders and governments. 2015’s Africa Children’s Prayer Day saw 2074 children in attendance with 361 of these giving their lives to Christ at just one of the locations in Nairobi, Kenya.
In the 17th Century, Brother Lawrence, penned letters that were compiled to make what is now the spiritual classic, The Practice of the Presence of God. His writings have served as reminders over centuries of God’s accessibility and His loving presence with us continuously throughout even the simplest of days. Several scriptures from the letters of Paul also remind us of the call of the believer to steadfast, sincere and unceasing prayer. How can we teach children to practise the presence of God today?
With restricted movement and limited physical gathering opportunities, how can we continue to reverberate the importance of prayer and intercession amongst children? Brother Lawrence’s spiritual classic can help us teach children how to be disciplined in prayer by practising the presence of God daily.
2020 severely impacted the ability to gather in churches, schools and other institutions. Several countries in Africa still have not reopened their educational institutions. With public gatherings only gradually reopening, children have had reduced or limited access to their friends, classmates and Sunday school groups. This year, the charge is to be disciplined in prayer, to continue to be faithful to the invitation for children to pray and intercede on behalf of their families, friends, leaders, government and nations.
We can remind the children they are called to learn how to practise the presence of God in their daily lives as part of the call to be disciplined in prayer. When prayer gatherings are limited, our God is not. We still have the opportunity to rally in raising a godly generation whose lives are built and sustained in the place of prayer.
We are continuously reminded of the power of the simple, clear and honest prayers of children. This year, here are a few reminders as you mobilise the children you influence into disciplined prayer and practising the presence of God.
1.Open Conversations with God. Remind them that they can have continuous conversations with God, anywhere and anytime because they have unrestricted access to their Heavenly Father. Wherever they are, children can be mobilised to intercession as they are reminded that they can pray constantly to the God who is constantly with them within their hearts and homes.
2. Pray anytime. Remind them that discipline in prayer is not restricted to morning/evening prayers but that at any hour of the day, on any day of the week, they have access and audience with a God who cares deeply for them, their needs and their families.
3. Pray all the time. Remind children that the most ordinary and unexciting activities they may be doing such as helping out their parents/guardians while at home are still holy and are opportunities to have conversations with God. Even the most simple of household tasks and chores are still opportunities to continue to pray, praise and worship at any hour of the day.
Keep up the habit of prayer. Remind them not to get weary in communicating and communion with God despite disruption from routines and uncertainty of what the future holds. Ask them to take time to reflect on how their prayer life has been affected by the present pandemic and its disruptions. Challenge them to continue to press in and keep praying, especially when they don’t feel like it. Ask them to reflect on anything they can offer as thanksgiving to God through the course of their day.
4. Pray for others. Remind them that God’s power is not limited by proximity. They can intercede and stand in the gap for those who are far away that they would ordinarily see at school, church and other social events even when they may not be able to physically spend as much time with them. This would include their family members, peers, teachers, leaders and government authorities and others around the world.
5. Prayer has power. Remind children that they have greater impact than they realise through the power of their prayers and that they can continue to partner with God hourly and daily in prayer for the change they desire to see. Remind them that as they practise the presence of God, they can persist in praying for the personal, physical and spiritual needs of others.
To work out the vision of releasing this emerging generation into the dream of God for their lives, we need to continue to instil the value of the power of prayer and foster a culture of steadfast prayer at all times and in all seasons. A challenging reminder for us, as children’s ministry practitioners, youth leaders and pastors that desire to pass on the culture of unceasing prayer to this emerging generation is that these practices must first be modelled in our own lives before they can overflow into the lives of the children we minister to.
This October, let us continue to pray for the children in Africa as they pray. It is the praying church (children included) that perseveres that will prevail.
- Romans 12:12 — Rejoice and exult in hope; be steadfast and patient in suffering and tribulation; be constant in prayer.
- Ephesians 6:18 — Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding on behalf of all the saints (God’s consecrated people).
- Philippians 4:6 — Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (]definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:17 — Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly].
- Hebrews 13:15 — Through Him, therefore, let us constantly and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name.