International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church is coming up on Nov. 6. Churches around the world are preparing to join in prayer for their brothers and sisters experiencing persecution worldwide. But it can be challenging to engage the entire congregation in prayer, especially young people.
We have a few tips that may help.
Get your kids involved!
- Use familiar concepts.
Young children may not understand persecution so use concepts that are age appropriate. For example, explain how bullying is a type of persecution. Putting it in terms they are familiar with will help them feel invested in praying for others who are being abused.
- Make the victims relatable.
Children often feel disconnected from adult issues like persecution, but making International Day of Prayer “kid-sized” isn’t difficult. Children understand and feel connected to people similar to themselves, especially in age. Discuss how persecution affects kids just like them and and how praying for those kids is a good way to help.
- Try a prayer activity.
Praying typically involves a lot of sitting and silence, something kids often struggle with. Giving children a physical way to interact with the concept of prayer is a good way to keep them engaged. Hand out coloring sheet maps of countries where Christians are persecuted. Write prayer requests for that country on the page and then let the kids color it in. When they are done, have them share or discuss their country’s prayer requests with the group.
Get your youth involved!
- Get personal.
Sometimes it’s difficult to connect with someone from another country. One way to ease that barrier is to find a person who has similar interests, is in the same grade in school, has the same kind of pet, etc. Search the web for stories of teens living in highly persecuted areas and have your teens read those stories. Chances are, if they can relate they’ll be more motivated to pray.
- Think long term.
Sometimes one day of prayer isn’t enough for young people to feel that they’ve made a difference or formed a connection. Instead, have your teens pray daily for fellow believers facing persecution. Let them choose a country where Christians are oppressed. Next, have them set their phone alarm for the time people wake up in that country. For example, if a teen in Chicago is praying for North Korea, he would set an alarm for 5:30 p.m. since that’s 7 a.m. in North Korea. Encourage teens to use that alarm as a reminder to pray for persecuted Christians every time the alarm goes off.
- Be relational.
One of the most effective ways to encourage youth to pray is by listening to them talk about prayer. Have a discussion either one-on-one or with a group about what makes praying for people you’ve never met difficult. Having solutions to the problems is helpful, but letting teens find solutions as a group is a a great way for them to take ownership of their prayer life.
Praying for other believers, especially those who are being persecuted, is incredibly powerful for everyone involved. We hope these tips will help every church member appreciate the privilege of banding together worldwide for International Day of Prayer.