Forming Faith: Prayer Journeys with Children

2009, 40 pp
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My generation, the “boomers” (those born in the post WW2 economic boom years), who are quickly becoming zoomers (zooming toward retirement and claiming it as an active time), are those who often stopped practicing the engrained rituals of family prayer and regular Bible reading. We still remember those practices from our childhood and what we thought was stiff and formal or uncomfortable about them, but we have not passed these practices on to our children. As grandparents, we are now old enough to know something precious was lost when we entrusted faith nurture to the specialists, the church’s directors of faith formation, the Sunday school teachers, camp counsellors, and club leaders. We are grateful for the second chance we get with our grandchildren but we’ve lost our confidence. And many of our children, the parents of today’s children, also know that something is missing, and long for ways of helping their children know they are part of God’s people, who are called, equipped, and sent to engage the world with the reconciling gospel of Jesus Christ.

I have been privileged, and deeply blessed, by my journey of praying with children. As a teacher at the Winnipeg Mennonite Elementary School, for twelve years I led children in daily classroom devotions, Bible classes, and weekly chapel services. Then, when I was called to my current ministry as Director of Christian nurture in Mennonite Church Canada, the sacred space with the children and their teachers, in many of our congregations, was opened to me. So were the board room tables where curriculum and worship events for God’s children of all ages were planned. My grandchildren live nearby, and so I’ve been a natural part of their weekly lives, and have experienced first-hand why Jesus said the kingdom of heaven belongs to children and those who are like them. And while I’ve shared that journey, my Masters studies in theology and faith formation opened up to me the community of those who are passionate and informed about the spirituality of children.

It is from this privileged perspective that I share this journey with you, hoping that my journey with children and their spirituality, and the strategies I have picked up and developed along the way, can help others provide the mentoring and encouragement to the children with which God has entrusted us. If this can happen, I can only say thanks and glory be to God, who came to us as a child in Jesus Christ, and who has promised to be with us always, to the end of the age.

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