Prayer takes place mostly in an invisible spiritual realm. On one hand, we need to learn how to appreciate God’s presence in that invisible space. We are in relationship with a Spiritual Being who is Other than we are. We need to learn how to relate in ways that cannot be seen.
On the other hand, sometimes tangible symbols help us to learn about prayer and our relationship with God. That’s why the Lion of Judah first made his appearance in our Kidz Church.
We ran Kidz Church just like a regular church service, with worship, Bible, prayer, and sermon. Except we didn’t run it. The kids did. They were the ones who greeted, ushered, and prayed. They led worship, wrote their own sermons, and preached. They cried with friends at the altar and laughed together in celebrating God’s joy – often in the same moment.
The children were always willing to share their prayer requests out loud. They wanted to pray for each other too. One day, our associate pastor arrived at Kidz Church with a plush lion. She introduced him as the Lion of Judah. When asked who the real Lion of Judah is, the kids cried out, “Jesus.” They knew the plush character was only a symbol. But it was a tangible way for them to learn about prayer and God’s presence with them.
Every week, the children would offer their prayer requests out loud. All prayer requests were important and treated with honor and compassion. But each week, the children chose one person who seemed to need the most strength or comfort. That child would receive the Lion of Judah to take home for the week. The child would then return the Lion the next week.
As the child was chosen, the kids circled up and prayed for each other. And the Lion of Judah went home with that child. The plush animal was a very hands-on reminder that God was with that child every minute of every day, bringing comfort, strength, healing, and other answers to prayer.
The children took this very seriously. Seeing the Lion go home with one of their classmates made them want to pray for that child. The adults were amazed at how the Lion was returned each week with great care.
I sometimes wondered if the adult church service might have benefited too from bringing home the Lion of Judah.
This is one of many creative ways to teach children about prayer and to make it visible for them. In some ways, adults need this lesson more than children. Little ones have a way of navigating the invisible spirit realm with more confidence than adults.
But little ones also need a strong foundation for a life of prayer. If you are looking for a way to teach your kids, try bringing home the Lion of Judah.