Here are some things I've used successfully:
Prayer Wall (good for Lent)
- 1 sheet of paper in these colors: yellow, blue, green, lavender.
- Sticky notes in the same colors
On the yellow sheet, write the word "adoration"
On the blue sheet, write the word "confession"
On the green sheet, write the word "thanksgiving"
On the lavender sheet, write the word "supplication."
Explain the definition of each word and how they are used for prayer. For example, "adoration" is for praising God, and the yellow reminds us of God's power. "Confession" is blue, because we have to repent of our sins, and sinning makes us sad. (Blue is a sad color). "Thanksgiving is green because it reminds us of happy things; and lavender is to remind us to pray for other people's needs.
Provide sticky notes and pens/pencils on a nearby table. Invite children to write their prayers on the sticky notes, and put in on the wall in the corresponding section. Continue this process for several weeks and watch the prayers grow.
Optional: make a fifth section and label it Answered Prayers (use any color paper, or pre-cut letters). If children feel their prayers have been answered, have them move the sticky notes to that section. Invite children to share their prayers with the group if they desire.
Adaptation: make a prayer chain.
Cut strips of paper in the same colors as above. Be sure they are wide enough to print their prayer on. Invite children to write their prayers on the appropriate colored strip, then connect it into a chain. The point is not to see who has the longest chain, it is to show them how our prayers grow, and that our prayers "link" us together in the Body of Christ.
Hint: anything "progressive" can be used to learn about prayers. Here's a fun one I did with confirmands:
- An artificial tree, like a ficus
- Shaped notepaper or cutouts for each month
- A small basket or inexpensive bin for each child. (or, you could have children decorate a shoe box)
If you begin with the new school year, then start with September and go through August.
The shaped notepaper/cutouts become "leaves" on the tree.
Suggested shapes for each month (may substitute other shapes, if desired)
November: turkey (or other Thanksgiving symbol)
December: star (The star the Wisemen followed)
April: cross (or other Easter symbol)
June: American flag (for Flag Day)
July: sun (or other summer symbol)
August: sun or book shape (some schools start in August)
Have children write their prayer on the appropriate shape, then clip to the tree. When that prayer has been answered, they should remove the "leaf" and put it in their basket. At the end of the designated time, have children show their baskets and see how their prayers have multiplied.
Prayer 101 (for 9-12 year olds)
Use this model to begin discussion on prayer:
What is prayer?(if is communicating with God in silent or spoken words, in verbal, written or musical expression.
Why do we pray?(to confess our sins, tell God our joys, fears, etc.)
How do we pray? (reading a devotional book, scripture passages, etc. There is no special form - it's just talking to God).
Where do we pray?(church, doing dishes, riding the bus, etc).
Rebus prayers (for age 4-6)
For children who are beginning readers, the use of rebus chartgs can make learning fun and effective. To make a rebus chart use descriptive pictures in place of some of the words in a prayer.
Older children could write prayer litanies, or could trace the path on a tabletop labyrinth. Or, have them look up prayers in the Bible.
There are tons of ways to teach prayer, just find what works best for your group.
Hope this helps!