Children Praying for the Nations

Marleen Mortin | 01 Dec 2023

A few boys ran into teacher Lorrin’s house. ‘What is the country for this week?’ they asked in a chorus. Lorrin smiled at their enthusiasm. It had only been a few years since she started to pray for the nations with the children, but they enjoyed it so much and had started to take ownership of it. She gave them the materials and said, ‘This week we are praying for the Abkhaz people. They live in Georgia.’ They looked at the materials and at the map. ‘Don’t worry “ba Lorrin’’,’ they said respectfully. ‘We will prepare everything for Sunday. You will be proud!’ They ran away as quickly as they had come in. Lorrin heard them talking in the distance as they divided their tasks for Sunday. 

In 2020 during the pandemic, my team and I started to develop prayer materials for children and their families. At first these were only general devotions and prayer points for the family, but soon after we started to develop more mission focused resources. We also developed training for children’s workers and parents that encouraged them to not only see children as the ‘object of mission’[1] but also as ‘active agents in God’s mission’[2]. Once children’s leaders’ and parents’ perception of children changed, they started to develop different strategies to include children. In this article, I would like to share some of the results of this training to encourage and inspire you to start praying with children in your community.

Big Dreams

Would it be too big a dream to see a young Global South generation standing up with a Biblical worldview that includes taking part in God’s mission?

In an interview, George Barna said that the worldview of a child starts to be formed from about 15 months old and is nearly complete when they are 13 years old[3].

Could events like this and prayer resources for parents be part of developing this worldview?

After Gabriel finished the children’s ministry training, he had big dreams. After reaching out to the children in his community for some years and sharing the Gospel with them, he now had the dream to mobilize children for God’s mission. 

Gabriel connected with the local churches in his community in Zambia and invited them to come with the children to a prayer event. To cover the costs all the children had to pay something small to attend. The turnout was beyond his expectation as more than 400 children came to pray! At the next event attendance doubled, and at the last event there were more than 1000 children and their leaders. 

At one of the events, a young girl was found crying. One of the leaders went to her and asked her what was wrong. She shared how sad she was that there were still children in the world that had not heard about Jesus. God had touched her heart for the nations. 

The 150 children’s leaders that have attended these events have not only been encouraged and equipped to pray with children for the nations but have shared how barriers between churches have been broken down. There is more unity and excitement for the greater Kingdom work, as a result of these events. 

The example above shows how children can be impacted when they pray for the nations. They will:

  • Learn more about the world, other cultures, and religions.
  • Practice the spiritual discipline of prayer and intercession (1 Tim 2:1; Eph 6:18; 1 Thess 5:17). 
  • Experience the reality and power of the God we serve (2 Peter 1:3; John 16:24; Matt 21:22).
  • Explore their part in God’s mission (1 Tim 2:1–4; Matt 28:18–20; Mark 16:15–20; Acts 1:8; Ps 2:8; Ps 46:10).

From prayer to action

This dream, that children can already have a Biblical worldview and take part in God’s mission, may seem too big. However, one thing I have learned over the years is that when we are faithful in the part God has given us, God can do big things (John 6:9–13). We have seen encouraging results in different places in the world, as illustrated by the following examples:

  • A children’s prayer group started to pray for their Muslim classmates during Ramadan after praying for Islamic countries.
  • Children who prayed for their unbelieving parents saw them coming to faith.
  • A group of children prayed for the healing of a child in the hospital and after he got healed, they shared the testimony in the community. This led to openness in the community for the gospel.
  • Children and their families went on an outreach in their community as they saw the importance of sharing the gospel message with all people.

These are just some examples of how God works in and through children. Imagine how your children might change as you start to pray for the nations with them.

Encouragement

We also trained a few leaders from the Philippines who work in a remote area in the jungle and train tribal people to share the gospel. Not only did they start to include children in their strategy to reach the unreached people, but once they started to disciple the children and their families, they included prayer for the nations. What an encouragement it was for our team in the Ukraine to receive a message that children in the Philippines were praying for their country.

Children can pray for the nations, global events, and people they know. Their prayers can be an encouragement for those who are serving or living in hard places. Below some ideas that can help you prepare for a prayer time like this:

  • Ask believers or missionaries abroad to share some prayer points with you and send feedback to them after you have prayed.
  • Ask a child or a group of children to pray and send this as a voice note to the believer or missionary. You can also ask the children to write cards with their prayers on it. 
  • You can find many resources online that give you prayer points and activities that can encourage believers there. An example is the youth page of Open Doors where they can send a letter to children who live in countries with persecution or other challenges.

Perhaps this is new for you, so in closing, here are a few ideas to start small. Choose one of these ideas to do in this coming week.

As a family, choose a country or people group and take time to pray and learn more about them. Eg, find the flag, search the news, find general information and pictures about the country, learn a few words, cook a meal, and look for prayer points. Operation World, Joshua Project and Via Families can help you with lots of information and ideas.

Pray in line with the news. After watching the news, take some time to pray as a family. In your ministry or school, you can choose one topic from the news and share it briefly with the children, then pray for it.

Invite another family to join you for a special evening where you share about a country and invite them to pray for this nation.

Prepare to share about a country at your church or ministry. Share a few facts, show the flag, and let them find it on the map. Share some prayer points and possibly a story, then take time to pray with them.

You can download our free resource here for more ideas to pray for countries and people groups.

Editor’s Note: This article is presented by the Lausanne Children and Family (CnF) Network in partnership with ‘The International Children’s Ministry of OM’. To connect with the CnF network, email [email protected].

Endnotes
  1. Rosalind Tan, Nativity A. Petallar, Lucy A. Hefford. God’s Heart for Children. Langham Creative Projects. Kindle Edition.
  2. “Cape Town Commitment,” Lausanne Movement (2011), IV, 5.                                                  
  3. Tony Perkins, 2022. “George Barna on Worldview Confusion Caused by Parents” YouTube Video. 15:25.Tony Perkins, 5 May 2022. https://youtu.be/x-71TyicHl4

Marleen Mortin is the founder and director of ICHNOS, the international children’s ministry of OM. She has a passion to equip, mentor, and resource children’s leaders and parents to disciple and mobilize children to follow Jesus and partner in His Kingdom purposes.