If teaching your children the Bible is top priority because of the power of God's Word in their lives, then teaching your children to pray is a close second. Teaching them to pray provides the pathway to God and helps them feel comfortable with talking to Him, though He is invisible. Teaching them to pray also reinforces the truth that we are dependent upon God, that we need God all the time for everything.
But beyond those personal benefits of learning to pray, teaching your children to pray trains them to think of others and to identify with others. The author of Hebrews tells us to "remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also." (Hebrews 13:3) From this verse we can see that God wants us to put ourselves in other people's shoes—to think about and try to feel what they are going through. In this way we can learn to pray more effectively and fervently, considering what their needs might be and what we would want others to pray for us if we were in those same circumstances.
On this day Andrew Brunson, an American who had been working and pastoring in Turkey for 23 years, has finally been released after being held in prison and then house arrest there for two years. What better day to write about teaching your children to pray for people around the world? This is a day of rejoicing in answered prayer!
Paul exhorts us in I Timothy 2:1-2 to pray for all men, "for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence." He goes on to say in verse 4 that God "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." Paul also asks the Thessalonians to pray for his ministry "that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified . . . and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith."
From these verse we can list several people groups God calls us to pray for:
Those who are in prison and are being persecuted for the sake of Christ
Those who are in governmental positions of authority
Those who do not yet know Christ and/or have not yet heard the Gospel
Those who are taking the Gospel to others: pastors, missionaries, teachers, etc.
Those who are working in difficult places where there is potential danger and antagonism to the Gospel, which could result in persecution
All of these people groups give us as homeschoolers wonderful opportunities to integrate prayer with geography, world events, and social studies. Our children need to learn about the world, the names and locations of the nations. They also need to be aware of politics and different styles of government, of national and world events. All of these are excellent prayer fodder. As ambassadors of Christ here in this world, we can and should use our knowledge of these things to pray for God's Kingdom to come to earth in every place and in every situation, knowing that His Kingdom rule is the best, the most benevolent, and the most beneficent any people group could ever desire. This is why Christ is called by one of the Old Testament prophets "The Desire of All Nations." (Haggai 2:7) The peace and freedom He offers provides the greatest latitude for blessing and is unparalleled in its scope.
So here are a few of my favorite ideas.
Subscribe to World Magazine (https://www.magazineline.com/world-magazine?affiliateid=LJZ-7K216&gclid=Cj0KCQjw9ZDeBRD9ARIsAMbAmobRTmC9aNfF42MbiqfPKfseP8BRCaoS4NmO4r4HVgzMD47Yxitgjb4aAkb5EALw_wcB) for your older children and yourself and/or get God's Big World for your little ones (2-6 yrs.), World Kids for grade school children (7-10 yrs.), or World Teen (http://gwnews.com/about.html). As you read through the world news they provide, look up on a map where the countries or states are located that are in the news and pray for the nation, state, or people.
Play the game Where in the World. I mentioned this game before in my blog about Sukkot. If you play only one continent at a time, giving each person 4-7 playing pawns, the game only takes 10-15 minutes. We have played it while eating lunch or dinner. I'm amazed at how quickly we can learn the names of the nations simply by playing the first level of this game. After we've finished the game, we go around the table, each praying for one of the countries on the board that we've identified with a pawn.
Whenever you get a missionary e-letter, take time that day to pray through the prayer requests. If you don't receive any missionary letters, ask someone in your church if they could give you the names and emails of the missionaries your church supports. Send one or more of them an email and ask to be put on their email list to receive prayer requests. Better yet, start a missionary prayer notebook for missionary cards, pictures, and letter updates; and pray for one missionary each day. Be sure and locate the country where they serve on a world map. Talk about what their needs might be.
Whenever or however you learn of news items, turn them into prayer opportunities with your children, whether it's an ambulance going by or a hurricane as has just wrecked havoc in the southeastern states (10-15-18)
Encourage your children in each prayer focus to imagine themselves in those circumstances and pray as they would want others to pray for them if they found themselves in a similar situation. By tying prayer to your everyday learning experiences, you are helping your children to understand that there's no separation between the spiritual world and the physical world. What is happening in the physical world is of utmost importance in the spiritual realm, and we can have an effect on all peoples and all events as we merge the two in prayer. Through prayer we can go anywhere in the world with God. Through prayer we can empathize with people everywhere and care for them. Through prayer we gain a worldwide vision and begin to share in the magnitude of the heart of God who "so loved the world."