About 30 minutes before church starts our volunteers gather for “circle time.” After giving various updates and getting everyone up to speed on things they need to know, we always end this time by having two people pray: a person under 12 and a person over 12.
We do this — not because it’s cute — but because Jesus tells us to have the faith of a child. So why not have someone who naturally has the faith of a child — because they are a child (!) — pray for our church?
This past Sunday we took another step when it comes to involving children at our church. We added an
8-year-old girl named Addison to our Prayer Team, the folks who pray for people during Communion and at the end of every service. Here’s the backstory how this came about…
Psalm 8 was written by David and he is writing to God. This is how it starts off: Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. (Psalm 8:1)
That verse is a familiar one. Worship songs include those words in their lyrics and it’s a popular “Scripture Memory Verse.” And while verse 1 expresses a beautiful truth, I like verse 2 even better. Read this carefully: Through the praise of children and infants you [God] have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. (Psalm 8:2)
This verse is saying the praise of children — and even infants — is much more than just “cute.” This verse is about spiritual warfare. And the fact that our kids have a huge role to play in it.
The devil hates it when kids are born. Because each new life has infinite possibilities to be used by God to advance His Kingdom on earth.
And the devil hates when kids praise God and when they pray. Because Psalm 8:2 says the praise of children and infants is actually spiritual warfare. It establishes a stronghold — a beachhead — against the enemies of God.
And the devil hates it when kids use their spiritual gifts. By the way, do you think in these terms? That, if your children love Jesus and have chosen to follow Him as their Lord and Savior, that they are filled with the same Holy Spirit that you are? That they have the same spiritual gifts that you do?
There is no “junior” Holy Spirit.
There are no “junior” spiritual gifts.
I believe churches (including ours) and Christian parents (including Kellie and me) need to embrace these truths on a much deeper level than we already do.
We need to unleash our kids in our homes, at our churches, in our neighborhoods, and in the world. We need to encourage them to praise God. To pray. To discover their spiritual gifts. To put their faith in action.
So about a year ago Addie told her mom and dad (Jeff and Andrea — a couple whose wedding I officiated a decade ago!) that she felt the Holy Spirit nudging her to join our church’s Prayer Team. While it would have been easy to simply say, “Awww, how sweet!” and brush off her request, we pressed into it.
At the same time Addie shared her desire with me, Vineyard USA published an awesome booklet: The 5-Step Prayer Model… For Kids! It was all about how to teach children to pray using the classic Vineyard approach developed by John Wimber (who founded the Vineyard movement) back in the early 1980’s. I gave a copy of the booklet to her parents and they walked through it with her.
Since that time I continued to dialogue with her and her mom and dad and she continued to grow in her faith. It became apparent that she was ready.
So this past Sunday we brought Addie up on stage during our church service and formally commissioned her as a member of our Prayer Team. What an awesome moment!
Then I preached my sermon and set up our time for Communion. As I was helping serve the Communion elements, it brought a huge smile to my face as I glanced over to see Addie and an adult member of our Prayer Team huddled together as they prayed over someone.
I can’t wait to see what God unleashes through the prayers of this 8-year-old girl at our church.
Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.” (Matthew 19:14)
***”Open Heaven.” That’s the title of my sermon this Sunday as we continue our series on Angels & Demons. February 8. 10:30am. More info at tevchurch.org***