Praying together

Here’s a collection of activities, games and things to make and do together, all of which extend and expand the in-game fun beyond the Guardians of Ancora app. Look through this collection and choose one or more ideas to help your family pray together.

Here are some great questions to start you chatting about any story from the Bible:

  •      What sort of thing has this Bible story reminded you of, that you knew before?
  •      What new things have you discovered, in this story?
  •      Is there anything you’re going to keep thinking about, from this story?

New activity ideas are added for each Bible Quest, as well several collections of activities about prayer, stories and so on. Look out for more Family Activity downloads, on guardiansofancora.com

A quick introduction to spiritual styles

Family activities from Guardians of Ancora are devised to inspire varied ways of knowing God:  four distinct avenues for connecting with him through word, emotion, symbol, and action. These ‘spiritual styles’ are broad approaches to spirituality and faith, through which children experience God and make sense of their lives in the world around them.

If you want to find out more about spiritual styles, this article is a helpful introduction to a fascinating topic:

http://www.faithformationlearningexchange.net/uploads/5/2/4/6/5246709/saturation_spirituality-creating_environmentsthatnurtureallchildren_-_csinos.pdf

God’s world in trouble

Bible link

any

What you need:

a soft fabric or rubber globe that you can squeeze and touch and hold

What you do:

Pass the globe around and point out the places where you have heard that sad things are happening. This may be because there is a war, or because the people do not have enough to eat or have lost their homes because of flooding or earthquake, for example. In some parts of the world, children have no homes and have to live and beg on the streets.

If you are introducing this type of prayer, do not overwhelm your child with disasters: focus on just one area, perhaps something that has been in the news recently. You may find that they have absorbed a significant amount of information already – or you may be doing this activity because your children have initiated the conversation.

Explain that God loves the world and everything and everyone in it. How does your child think God feels, to see sad things happening in our world? How do you feel?

Pass the globe around so that each of you can briefly hold it, and give it a squeeze or a hug.

Take it in turns to cup the globe in your hands and ask God to show his love and bring his help and comfort to those who are sad or need his help today.

This activity will encourage children with an emotion-centred approach to knowing God.

Light for the world

Bible link

John 8:12

What you need:

a candle

lots of supervision!

What you do:

Candles and children can be a risky combination, so think and plan carefully before you use this activity. (Never leave candles unattended and make sure you can put them out easily. Have a small jug of water nearby.) The image of a lighted candle is memorable and will fascinate the children, so it is worth the effort!

Light a candle to remind us that Jesus is the “light for the world” (John 8:12). Use one pillar candle standing in sand, or on a glass or metal base; or try several smaller candles with cooking-foil collars on to stop wax dripping on to hands, which one or two people could hold. Set out tea lights, on a sand, metal or glass base, in the shape of a cross. Alternatively download a free candle app for your mobile device.

Stand around the candle at a safe distance and think of people who might be feeling sad, scared or anxious about something. You may like to use biblical images such as “walking in darkness”.

This activity will encourage children with an emotion-centred approach to knowing God.

Pebbles in water

Bible link

any

What you need:

a large (non-breakable) bowl of water

bowls of smallish stones or pebbles (though not small enough to be a choking hazard)

one larger stone or pebble (available from garden centres or craft and interior design shops)

What you do:

This activity can help everyone think about who they affect most by what they say and do, and about who affects them.

Begin with everyone sitting or standing where they can see into the large bowl of water.

Pick up one of the smaller stones and drop it gently into the water. Watch what happens. Can you see ripples on the water? Do they spread out? Do they go right to the edge of the bowl? What made the ripples start? Wait until the water is still again.

Take it in turns to choose a stone and drop it, carefully, into the water. Again, watch what happens. See the ripples that go to the edge of the bowl? Say that our lives are like that: what we do has an effect somewhere. We have an effect on other people; and other people affect us.

Talk about the way that Jesus wants our lives to have a right effect on others, as we learn to live God’s way. Pray that God will use our lives to “bless” others. (The Good News Bible uses the term “make happy”: young children can be very excited to realise they can make others happy!) Say something like: “Lucy, may you make others happy this week”; and so on.

This activity will inspire children with a symbol-centred approach to knowing God.

Prayer cube

Bible link

any

What you need:

a wooden cube or dice, or one made from folded card

sticky tack (optional)

What you do:

Together, write or draw your prayer ideas on one of the faces of the cube. If you want to use the cube with different prayer ideas each time, fix pieces of paper to the faces of the cube with sticky tack.

You could make a thank-you cube, one to say sorry and one to say please. Prayer cubes can fit a theme, Bible story or season. Children love repetition and will enjoy using the cube again and again.

Perhaps you could use the prayer cube regularly at home.

Take it in turns to roll the cube and see what picture or words are uppermost when it lands. Read or say a prayer, as shown on the cube.

This activity will encourage children with an emotion-centred approach to knowing God.

Mirror in a box

Bible link

any

What you need:

a child-safe mirror and a box with a lid (shoebox size)

What you do:

Place the mirror in the bottom of the box and put the lid on, beforehand, so that others cannot see what is inside.

Lift the lid and peep in saying, “Oh! I can see something special in here.”

Pass the box to someone else. Invite them to look in the box, but ask them not to tell anyone what they see, just yet. Continue to pass the box until everyone has looked inside.

When everyone has looked inside, ask what they’ve seen.

Thank God that he made us all special, yet different.

This activity will encourage children with an emotion-centred approach to knowing God.

Alphabet prayers

Bible link

any

What you do:

Choose a letter of the alphabet. Talk to God about someone, something or someplace beginning with that letter.

You could all pray for something beginning with the same letter. Or you could try going through the alphabet, using each letter in order as prompts.

Be prepared to give plenty of encouragement and ideas – and keep it fun!

This activity will interest children with a word-centred approach to knowing God.

Holding cross

Bible link

any

What you need:

a cross to hold

What you do:

Wooden “holding crosses” are shaped to fit snugly into a hand, but you could use any style of cross for this activity.

Take it in turns to hold a cross and say whatever you want to God (aloud or silently).

You may not want or need to pray in any word-based way: make your own response as you touch, stroke, feel and handle the cross.

You can use this way of praying at any time or about any subject.

This activity will inspire children with a symbol-centred approach to knowing God.

Prayer hands

Bible link

any

What you do:

Sit together and look at the fingers on one of your own hands, touching the “little one”, the tallest, the index finger and the thumb.

Use your fingers to talk to God.

Fold your fingers down so only the little finger is pointing upwards. Talk to God about people who are young, small or weak.

Hold up the “ring” finger. Talk to God about people we love.

Hold up the tall “middle” finger. Ask God to help people who are in charge of things, such as those who make laws and those who keep us safe and well (such as police, medical staff and so on).

Hold up the index finger so it points the way to go, just as parents, carers, teachers and leaders help to point us in the right way.

When you spread out your fingers, the thumb points away from the fingers. Pray for people who are in other countries, for mission partners and for those living in difficult circumstances.

This activity will inspire children with a symbol-centred approach to knowing God.

Prayer boats

Bible link

Luke 5:1–11

What you need:

square sheets of paper

crayons

a large bowl of water

What you do:

Each draw or write a prayer idea on a square of paper.

Fold each corner into the centre, pressing along the folds firmly so that the picture is covered over with flaps of paper.

Float the folded paper, carefully, on the water. Watch and see what happens!

This activity will inspire children with a symbol-centred approach to knowing God.

Flower petals

Bible link

any

What you need:

backing paper

circles of coloured paper

ovals of coloured paper (petal shapes)

glue sticks or sticky tack

What you do:

Decide what you are going to talk to God about. Write a few words on a paper circle (such as, “Thank you, God” or “We love the flowers God made”). Fix the circle in the centre of the backing paper.

Give each person a paper petal shape to stick around the circle, like petals around the centre of a flower.

Encourage each person to say the prayer words after they have placed their petal.

Stand in front of the completed flower and all say the prayer words together.

Adapt this idea by letting each person choose a prayer idea and writing or drawing their own topic on their petals, before adding them to the flower.

This activity will inspire children with a symbol-centred approach to knowing God.

Prayer tree

What you need:

paper leaf shapes

a tree drawn on backing paper or a twiggy branch set in a stable base

sticky tape

What you do:

Talk about God’s promises and how he loves us to talk with him. Explain that you are going to make a tree, as a way of praying.

Each add a leaf shape to the tree, as you share your prayers with God and with each other. (You could draw or write on the leaves first, if you wish, but that’s not essential.)

You could put extra leaves near the tree, so anyone can add more prayers when they wish or when you can show that a prayer has been answered.

This activity will inspire children with a symbol-centred approach to knowing God.

Blessings box

Bible link

any

What you need:

large buttons, marbles or beads (avoid anything small enough to be a choking hazard)

a box to put them in

Look together at the buttons or beads and count them.

Between you, can you think of that many things to say “thank you” to God about?

Take it in turns to put the buttons, one at a time, into the box. Mention one way in which God has made us happy (“blessed” us), with each button.

If you can think of more thank yous, tip the buttons out and start again!

This activity will encourage children with an emotion-centred approach to knowing God.

Paper aeroplanes

Bible link

any

What you need:

sheets of lightweight paper

crayons

What you do:

Draw or write your prayer thoughts, ideas and requests on the paper.

Fold the paper into an aeroplane. (This need not be a complex design: folding the paper in half lengthways will be fine.)

Throw the aeroplanes and think about our prayers going to God.

This activity will motivate children with an action-centred approach to knowing God.

Prayers to eat

Bible link

any

What you need:

edible laces (strawberry, apple or licorice)

breakfast cereals that can be threaded

small bowls

What you do:

For this, or any activity involving food, be alert to health, safety, hygiene and allergies. (If this could be an issue, use coloured string and beads or buttons and wear the prayers instead of eating them!) Make sure everyone has washed their hands and that each person makes and eats only their own prayers!

Each person will need a lace and a bowl containing five to ten pieces of cereal.

As you pray for a subject, pause and let everyone thread one piece of cereal on their lace. Thank God for those who grow our food and those who make it, drive food to the shops, sell it and cook it.

Celebrate God’s goodness by eating the prayers!

This activity will motivate children with an action-centred approach to knowing God.

Friendship bracelets

Bible link

any

What you need:

craft materials for making bracelets

What you do:

Friendship bracelets can be made from strips of paper, fabric hair scrunchies, lengths of broad elastic, loom bands or plaits of chunky knitting yarn or ribbons.

Encourage each person to make two (or more) bracelets, making them as identical as they can.

While you’re doing this, chat about friends. Who does you child know? Who do they like to play with?

Thank God for our friends, by name.

Suggest you each keep one bracelet yourself and give the other one to a friend. When you look at your bracelet, or see a friend wearing one, say thank you to God for friends.

This activity will inspire children with a symbol-centred approach to knowing God.

Balloon prayers

Bible link

any

What you need:

balloons

a balloon pump

a permanent marker pen

ribbon or string

What you do:

Most children love balloons, but a significant number find them frightening, especially if they burst unexpectedly. If that’s the case in your home, omit this activity.

Inflate balloons of different colours.

Chat about ideas for talking to God. Write one word on each balloon or draw smiley faces or simple sketches. (Permanent marker will dry quickly but it does not wash off easily so take care when drawing or writing.)

Tie several balloons in a bunch and hang them where everyone can see them and enjoy their shape and colour.

An addition to the idea is to draw or write prayers on pieces of paper. Roll these up and wiggle them inside the balloon, before you tie the end. (You need about five hands to do this!) Hang the prayer balloons up, in bunches, as before.

This activity will inspire children with a symbol-centred approach to knowing God.