Leading prayers in an all age service

One way to make an all age service truly ‘all age’ is to ask a family, or an extended family, to lead the prayers. Everyone loves hearing a family pray. But some children (and their parents!) find standing at the front of church and leading prayer frightening, so we want to encourage you that you can do it. We hope this document helps.

Often an all age service is a wonderful chance for guests to see our church, so we need to take a little more care with what we pray so that our guests don’t misunderstand us. This document is going to say a bit about that as well.

Thank you for leading the prayers for us. Please just do it in a way that feels natural to you.

Here are a few tips

• Every one is for you. You don’t have to prove yourself. This isn’t a test of how godly you are. You’re just talking to our Heavenly Father for us. Thanks for letting us listen in! Enjoy it. You can relax. Pray at the front as you would pray in your own home.
• Do help your children to write or plan their prayers, but don’t make them sound like children they’re not. Your prayers shouldn’t be impressive or long or complicated.
• Normally we write our prayers down so that we can plan what we say and say what we planned. Really young children might just want to learn a one sentence prayer like, “Dear Father, thank you that Jesus was born at Christmas. Amen” or “Dear Father, thank you for our church. I love it. Amen”. The rest of us just need 2-4 sentences each.
• Sometimes children suddenly get frightened when they arrive at the front and don’t want to do it. That’s alright. Everyone understands.

If it’s a service where we have particularly brought along friends and guest:
• Don’t pray for people that only those from our church know about.
• Don’t use church jargon –Don’t say ‘gospel’ say ‘good news about Jesus’.
• Don’t use ‘us/them’ language. Don’t pray for ‘those here who are not Christians’. Better is to pray prayers that everyone can say ‘Amen’ to.
• Don’t pray about controversial issues. Probably don’t pray about abortion or one political party.
• Don’t throw in Bible verses, or give a mini sermon. For many guests, having any Bible teaching will be unfamiliar, so please don’t sneak extra bits into the prayers!
• Don’t give too much explanation just dive straight in with ‘Heavenly Father…’ or however you would normally begin, and end with a loud ‘Amen’.

A pattern for your prayers might be these 4 very short sections:
• thanking God for blessings/Christmas/Easter eg fun, our bodies, family, presents, chocolate eggs.
• pray for world and local concerns ones that would be understood by all present – those affected by recent world events, those who find Christmas difficult.
• pray for all of us e.g. “we pray that we would understand more of your love for us” or “we pray that you would help all of us here to understand more about who Jesus is this Christmas”.
• finish with leading us in the Lord’s prayer.

To give your family the best chance, arrive early and just practise standing at the front, speaking as loudly and slowly as you can. If your church uses a microphone, just practise using it- you still need to speak very loudly and slowly.

Thank you so much for serving us by praying. We’re so grateful. Go for it!