Beach Ball Prayers
"God, thank you for this beautiful day."
"God, please help Mrs. Anderson to feel better."
It's really easy for us to get "stuck" praying in one or two ways, especially "please" and "thank you." It feels most natural to us (and is probably demonstrated most often to us) to thank God for things and then ask Him for blessings. There is nothing wrong with this, but there are actually more ways to pray than just that! And as parents, we have the opportunity to teach this concept to our kids while they are young.
We've come up with a few different fun ways to pray in a variety of ways with our kids. One of our favorites is Beach Ball Prayers.
How to Pray
You need a sharpie and a beach ball (you can also use a different type of ball you already have on hand, just improvise with the sections)
Write one category of "fill-in-the-blank" prayer prompts on each colored section of the ball:
I praise you for...
Thank you for...
Jesus, forgive me.
Please help me with...
Have fun throwing the ball from person to person. When you catch the ball, check and see where your right index finger landed and read off that prayer prompt. Note: I ended "Jesus, forgive me." with a period because some kids don't want to share a confession out loud and that is totally fine!
How do you pray in those ways?
The differences between the six ways to pray can be subtle. Don’t get too hung up on it, your child is learning and we are all still learning more about prayer as grown-ups too! The point is to practice and to pray, not to be perfect. Here are examples of how you can pray in each way. Notice that we are praying for the same person in the bottom four examples:
"Hallelujah!" is easy! We just want our kids to be joyfully praising God. Have them shout "Hallelujah!" and do a silly dance or move.
"Jesus, forgive me." Again, notice that we ended this with a period. You can confess something out loud, pause and silently confess, or just move on. This is not the time to drill in confession, this game is lighthearted and fun. Just saying the words, "forgive me" is hard enough and is good practice for kids (and adults!)
“Thank you for...” involves thanking God for the person or thing you are praying for. For example, “Thank you God for Harper, I’m so glad she is in my class.”
“Please Bless...” is very similar to “thank you” but it involves blessing the person, situation, or thing. For example, “God bless Harper. May she know how loved she is by you and have a heart for you”
“Please...” is asking God for help with something or someone. For example, “Lord, Harper has a cold please make her feel better.”
“I Praise You for...” is also very similar to “thank you.” But in a praise, we are directing our attention to God’s work. The focus should be on God, not on a person or thing. For example, “God you are so good at making people. I love how you made Harper such a good friend to me.”