Victoria Beech offers four ways to help children communicate with God.
Fruit Salad Prayer
Aim: to have fun thanking God
Choose four different types of fruit and make them into a chunky fruit salad. Easy options are strawberries, raspberries, grapes and blueberries. For a more sticky and ‘use immediately’ fruit salad, you could add kiwi, banana, pear, or melon (and provide wipes!).
Take it in turns to pick a piece of fruit and thank God for something. You could theme the prayers according to what fruit you pick, e.g. thanks for… something which has happened this week, someone in particular, something about God’s character or something good in your life.
Notes for adaption
For older children: Use fondue forks or chop sticks to pick out the fruit.
For older children: Make simpler themes such as: ‘thank you for...’ Daddy, Mummy, my brothers/ sisters, my pet, my house, my clothes.
Outdoor Bible Story
Aim: to let context bring a new perspective on a Bible story
Arrange a trip outside and tell a related Bible story there. This will work well if you have read the story many times and can tell it rather than read it. Make sure you allow time to think and chat together about the story. Use a location that will add to the children’s experience of the story. For example:
~~ On a trip to the beach or a boat trip, recall the story of Jesus calling some of his disciples (Matthew 4:18-22)
~~ During a walk up a hill or mountain talk about the words of Psalm 121
~~ Have a BBQ, and tell the story of Jesus reinstating Peter over a fish BBQ (John 21:1-25)
~~ Visit a Pick Your Own farm and retell one of Jesus’ stories about farming e.g. the parable of the sower (Luke 8:4-15)
~~ Go and stand by a tree, or if possible in an orchard, and retell Jesus’ teaching about good and bad fruit (Luke 6:43-46)
~~While standing by a lake, tell the story of when Jesus calmed a storm (Luke 8:22-25).
Notes for adaption
For an all-age service setting: Use pictures and items of the outside location to help give people an indoor-outdoor experience. You could record sounds and collect items for them to smell, hold or taste to invoke the experience, as well as having pictures printed or displayed on a screen.
Aim: to explore forgiveness in a physical way
Using a sand tray, take it in turns to write or draw something in the sand that you are sorry for. Encourage each person to say sorry to God and ask him to forgive them. This could be done silently as they draw or write, or it could be spoken aloud. Shake the tray to make whatever was drawn or written disappear. You might like to say: ‘Jesus forgives you and wipes this away completely.’
Notes for adaption
For families at home: If you are near the beach, you could do this down by the wave line, letting the waves represent God’s complete forgiveness.
Aim: to pray, play and exercise
Bounce on a trampoline, taking it in turns to bounce in the middle. All the people standing around the edge should shout words of prayer for the person, for example, things they want God to bring in their life: e.g. health, good friends, help with school, joy, peace.
Alternatively, encourage the children to bounce and praise God. Taking it in turns, each child should bounce on the trampoline as high as they can. At the top of their jump, they should shout a praise to God: ‘God is amazing!’ ‘God made me!’ ‘God cares for me!’ Everyone around the trampoline should repeat the praise shout.
Another variation is for each child to make the shape of something God has created as they bounce (star, tree, dog). At the end of each child’s turn, say thank you to God for all the things they made as they bounced.
Be sure to carefully supervise this activity.