This post was written by Cera Talamantes, a member of the INCM Blog team.
Christian Spiritual Practices are habits that help people grow their spiritual muscles stronger and create the opportunity to come closer to God – internally and externally – as they mature in their relationship with Him.
They are vital to pass on to kids.
Spiritual formation can be both an exciting and daunting part of discipling kids.
But leaders regularly express that helping kids grow spiritually strong can be overwhelming.
Where Many Leaders Are Starting
Maybe you can relate to this.
It was a normal but crazy Wednesday gathering for our kid’s ministry.
The kids were energetic as they were having their midweek check-in with friends and leaders, sharing the events of the week so far.
We had just finished up a wild game with balloons, tennis balls, and pool noodles and settled in to reflect on how we saw God working in our lives that week so far.
I asked the kids this question, “What do you think when you hear ‘spiritual formation’?”
The array of puzzled faces looking back at me was telling of their understanding of the phrase.
“I don’t know what that is, but it sounds hard.”
Heads around the room nodded in agreement at this statement. “Okay, what about ‘spiritual practice’?”
More puzzled looks, but not as intense as the first time around.
One child wondered aloud, “Practice like soccer practice? Are we playing soccer with the Holy Spirit?!”
While their response made us all laugh, we recognized the incredible opportunity presented to encourage the kids in their spiritual practices and relationship with God.
Since spiritual formation is so important for the whole person over a lifetime, helping kids to connect to God is a very high call.
Instead of feeling hopeless about teaching kids to connect with God through prayer, worship, and Bible reading, let’s consider how Jesus connected people to himself.
Jesus met each person right where they were at that moment in their life, but the interaction they had would have a lifetime effect on them.
Helping kids to create practices to strengthen their relationship with Jesus will not only affect them, but it will translate into a lifetime of valuable fruit that will affect everyone they know.
Meeting kids where they are and helping them develop spiritual practices gives allows them to connect in a more personal relationship with Christ and actively participate in that relationship.
So how can we foster growing faith in kids through Christian Spiritual Practices?
Here are some suggestions to help you grow kids’ faith through Spiritual Practices.
Creating Spaces for Prayer
Prayer is an important place to start as you encourage kids spiritually and give them the tools to grow their maturity.
Jesus not only modeled for us the importance of prayer in our lives, but he also showed us how to do it!
Using resources such as guided prayers, prayer walls, sensory stations, and prayer activity books can give kids different ways to come confidently to God where they are at that moment.
As leaders, we can create spaces for the kids to explore prayer in our church spaces and give them the tools to practice this at home and in their day-to-day lives.
Resources like the Lectio for Families App can help parents and kids work through daily prayer and scripture meditations together using the P.R.A.Y model: Pause, Rejoice/Reflect, Ask, and Yield/Yes).
Prayer journals such as With God: Praying Our Days by Jamie Dickerson models a kid-appropriate examen practice that is great for kids of all ages.
Interactive prayer stations create a way for kids to respond to God differently. One great free resource can be found on the Deeper KidMin website where Brittany Nelson shares ideas for self-guided prayer experiences for kids.
Engaging in Meaningful Worship
The spiritual practice of worship can be as unique as everyone who comes before God with praise and adoration.
Through worship, we recognize and praise God by engaging our minds and bodies as we seek to be with God.
Start by asking kids what they think worship is and the different ways they have worshiped God.
Allowing kids the opportunity to explore worship in different forms helps them come closer to God their creator as well as how they best can bring praise to Him.
Music, art, writing, and dancing are just some ways to encourage kids to see the value and grow into the spiritual practice of worship.
A few ideas you can try this week are:
- Creating Spotify playlists with songs and readings
- Assembling art project kits
- Providing worship journals
- Sharing vetted online resources
And here are a few great resources on creative forms of worship for kids:
Growing a Love for the Bible
Reading the Bible can be hard for both grown-ups and kids.
Finding good rhythms and ways of reading and engaging with the Bible is key to growing a strong spiritual practice.
This practice helps us know more about who God is, grow closer to Him, and learn to share his word with the world.
Providing kids with Bibles that meet where they are as readers helps kids learn confidently and at a level they understand.
You can help kids grow a spiritual practice of bible reading by sharing reading plans or guides, which help them to internalize or memorize scripture, and pray through the bible as a way of communicating with God.
John 15 speaks to the importance of being “connected to the vine” so we can be connected to the Father.
Leaders and parents can share their personal love for the Bible to model to kids how they connect with scripture. It’s a great idea to actually show them how to connect with God through scripture.
The Bible is not meant to intimidate or be seen as something to know because there could be a pop quiz.
The Bible is a living book and a loving way to draw closer to our Father and learn from its teachings.
The Wrap Up
Helping kids grow their spiritual muscles and maturity through regular practices of prayer, worship, and reading God’s word encourages them as individuals and can have a lasting impact on their lives.
Spiritual Practices ground kids in the truth, can create resilience, and reinforce their identity as a child of God as they connect with God in these ways.
Creating opportunities to learn and develop spiritual habits through different practices and in safe spaces allows kids to see that they are loved and valued by a Father who wants an intentional relationship, no matter their age or background.
I encourage you to try these practices with your kids.
They are vital to discipling the next generation and will grow fruit that lasts in their spiritual life.
Cera Talamantes has served in ministry for over a decade, volunteering in different areas but was called most to preschool and children’s ministry. Cera and her husband, Joseluis, have two incredible kids. Their family loves spending time together making lasting memories and having crazy Uno game nights.