Summer traditions: Teaching our children to pray for the world

Published on June 22, 2021

I would love to travel the world with my kids. 

I imagine we’d get lost down colorful alleys, pop into restaurants beckoning us with the smell of butter and spice, and marvel at the variety of creation surrounding us. 

But right now, we spend most of our time at soccer practice and school drop-off lines. It’s our current life stage, and I adore it. 

However, I long to instill a sense of passion in my children for the world and all God created. God has entrusted us with nurturing eternal souls, and if we desire our precious kiddos to be world-changers, they’ll need a love for its people because “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son” (John 3:16 ESV).

Love on a global level

A powerful, practical way we’ve fostered our children to love the world is by teaching them to pray for the world. Not only has it brought us a step closer to God’s heart, but it’s one small way to start loving on a global level. 

There are many simple yet meaningful ways to nurture your children’s love for all of God’s people. Here’s a peek into how this plays out in our household. 

Choose a country 

Each week we take turns choosing a country to learn about and cover in prayer. If you have a globe, it could also be fun to choose by spinning it, allowing your finger to land at random. We have a map with scratch-off colors for each country. (You could also use a cork map with colorful pins.) 

Pray for them 

After we’ve chosen a country, we open up the book Operation World: The Definitive Prayer Guide to Every Nation by Jason Mandryk. I can’t emphasize how deeply I cherish this book. It contains all sorts of interesting nuggets about every country in the world, including its most urgent prayer needs (my favorite part). This is where we focus. Whatever those prayer needs are (e.g., poverty, persecution, government corruption, child exploitation, orphans, lack of natural resources, etc.), we include them in our family prayers during dinner. The book also includes a section of answered prayers for each country! 

Give to a need 

As our eyes have been opened to the immediate needs of others, our hearts are often moved to action. If one of my kiddos shows a particular interest in the need of another nation, I help them research an organization they can support through their allowance. My children once worked hard to set up and run a lemonade stand in order to raise money for water wells in Africa. 

Cook meals together 

We especially enjoy choosing recipes from our selected culture and cooking meals together. This can be a beautiful mess at times. Some of my major #kitchenfails include Russian borscht and Ethiopian injera. (Yes, Eli, I’m sure I followed the recipe. No, I don’t know why it doesn’t look like the picture!

Learn new insights 

We love going to the library. I let the kids run amuck and grab whatever books they can find about the country. It’s so fun to discover new insights and share what we’ve learned after we read our books. 

Have fun with one another 

We plan a fun movie night. Older kids enjoy documentaries, but there are also great options if your kids are younger. We are pretty casual with our movie choices. When my kids were babies, we totally counted Beauty and the Beast as French culture (you know, because of all the baguettes and bonjours in the opening scene). 

Invite others in 

This summer we plan on organizing our first “Pray for the World” club! Once a month we’ll host a potluck so every family invited can bring a dish that represents the country we’ve been praying for. Voila! Fellowship, fun, and practicing faith all at the same time. Traditions don’t get much sweeter. 

Taking time to learn and pray for others around the world demonstrates to our kids that we should care because it is important. And praying teaches our children that God will use them to make a difference across the globe. We should care about hearing stories about people who are different from us. 

Imitate the heart of Jesus

In Acts 17, we learn that Paul took the time to learn about cultures different from his own. He read their literature, studied their art, and observed the temples of their gods. This helped Paul treat others with respect and compassion, opening doors to share the love of Christ. 

When Paul found an altar with the inscription “To an unknown god,” he was prepared to point them to the one true God they so desperately needed. 

We have a responsibility as parents to model practical ways to imitate the heart of Jesus. Praying for the world will encourage a global perspective in our children, which will hopefully lead to a wider understanding of God’s kingdom. 

We’re reminded in the book of John that people will know we are disciples of Jesus if we “have love for one another” (John 13:35). Cultivating a love for all God’s people is one important way we can turn our hearts toward him and emulate the love he has for this world.

Looking for other resources on prayer?

The most powerful thing you can do as a parent is pray for your child. Mark Batterson encourages us to pray bold prayers over our children…

How to Pray for Your Unborn Child

How to Pray When You’re Feeling Depressed

Five Specific Ways to Pray for Your Kids

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Jenna Marie Masters

Jenna is a speaker and writer who lives in Southern California with her hubs, their three bio kids, and their newly adopted foster daughter! She’s the “Parenting Toddlers & Tweens” writer for The Joyful Life Magazine. She also contributes to Christian Parenting, Home Front Magazine, and Truly Co and is on the writing team for The Devoted Collective.

Jenna holds a Master’s/Seminary Degree in Christian Ministry and Pastoral Counseling but is only interested in using it to lead other mamas into intimacy with Christ.

Things that matter most: Jesus. Family. Fellowship. Words. Cappuccinos. Crockpots. Paper plates. Summer. Live music. Eating outside. “The Cookie” from Bristol Farms. Bluey.

Read more about Jenna Marie

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