Prayers from the toybox
Stacking, threading and sorting prayers
I’m sure one of the reasons why people think I write prayers for children is that I often use children’s toys for experiential prayer. This love of toys for experiential prayer began when we first started Avenues Church, and my little congregation was first experimenting with alternatives to singing and sermons for our worship gatherings. At the time I had small children of my own and my own small children had toys. The aim was to create an inclusive worship experience for all ages so using toys made this visually accessible for children. Somewhere during those early Avenues days, it became reallly apparent that toys provided simple, easy to set up options for experiential prayer that work for all ages. Move over kids - I’ve taken over the toybox!
Toys for preschoolers are designed to encourage simple repetitive steps to help with motor control and teach basic concepts. They’re supposed to stack or thread or sort or push or pull. And all these simple actions and reactions are great for experiential prayer. These humble actions match with humble prayers.
"It is possible for us to live in the very sense of the Lord's presence, under even the most difficult circumstances. If you and I are going to enjoy the peace of paradise during this life we must become accustomed to a familiar, humble, and very affectionate conversation with the Lord Jesus." ~ Brother Lawrence
We have had a good few years of having an active toybox in our house. After our youngest two children, there’s been a steady stream of grandchildren from my stepchildren as well as nieces and nephews. It’s only been recently where we’ve reached a generational lull, the children are all getting older and the toybox has been moved to the garage until it is required again to entertain preschoolers. However, a few key items have been extracted for my prayer kit. These are for my own use. I’ve also purchased other toys which have only ever been used for my own prayer kit.
The attraction to me in using toys includes the visual appeal, the simplicity of action required and the ease of use.
Do I write prayers for children? I certainly hope my prayers can be adapted or used with children. Mostly though, the prayers are written for all ages, targetted to adults and inclusive of children. When I use toys, I do so because the toy is suitable for the prayer, not because of the age appropriateness of the toy in its primary use.
Today’s edition of our Virtual Prayer Room introduces my very favourite toys to use for prayer. It’s not a complete list of toys I'll incorporate into experiential prayer. I hope that this will inspire your own rethinking and repurposing of toys and I encourage you to embrace your inner child and dig out some toys for yourself to add to your kit. My favourites might not be yours, so feel free to expand the list and select toys that work for you.
May your experimenting and discoveries bring you joy in your prayer life.
On the journey
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