This world is not as it should be, but this is the world in which God has blessed us with children.
And this is the world in which He has called those same children to go out as His followers.
In light of that, how do we even begin to pray about situations like the conflict between Israel and Hamas, the slaughter of religious minorities in Iraq, and the police shooting of an unarmed teenager that has resulted in chaos on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri?
I struggled with that exact question as I talked with my two sons tonight about all that was happening and encouraged them to pray for the these troubling and heartbreaking situations.
Thinking and praying through it with them, here are six practical and biblical ways to pray through these circumstances with our children.
1. Admit your ignorance.
I honestly don’t know where to start in times like these. Because of that I don’t think I should pretend to know all of the answers in front of my children. Even if it wasn’t already obvious to them, I want them to know God, not me, is the one who has all-knowledge.
Too often in these moments, we speak (and pray) as if we know all of what is happening, exactly what has happened and what should happen. Pray with your kids acknowledging your own limited knowledge about the situations.
2. Pray Scripture.
What better place to turn when we do not have the proper words to express all that we want to say. Praying specific verses and overall biblical themes (like the effects of the Fall and the return of Christ) helps our children understand from where we draw our perspective and where true wisdom resides.
We prayed Romans 8:22-23 and talked about how creation is groaning with us due to the Fall, waiting for Jesus to come and make things right.
3. Ask God to protect innocent life.
The greatest tragedy in these situations is the all to frequent loss of life by those who were not involved – the passerby in Ferguson, the Israeli citizen, the Palestinian child, the Iraqi Christian.
At an age appropriate time, children need to learn that because of the fallen nature of this world, sometimes people die through no fault of their own. Innocent people die because evil is real, but evil is not and will not be triumphant.
4. Pray that justice would be present.
Children should know that God desires justice. Amos 5:24 speaks of justice flowing like water. He does not want those who commit immoral and illegal acts to go unpunished.
This helps our children to have a biblical worldview, to understand that the Bible speaks of injustice and the role of the Christian, as an ambassador of Christ, to work to set things right.
5. Ask God to strengthen the Church.
We prayed for the churches in Ferguson and St. Louis, that they would be strong and present in these moments. We prayed for the believers in the Middle East living under death threats.
Remind your children through your prayers that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church that Christ has founded.
6. Pray the Church would be a place of hope and peace.
In a world of drowning in hopelessness and constant strife, the Church must be the lighthouse pointing the weary to the firm foundation of Christ.
Our children need to know that despite all that they hear and all of the tragedies that take place, there is hope and there is peace. Most importantly, they need to know the Hope giver and the Prince of Peace.
In addition to praying with our children, we must be praying for our children – not because the world is any more fallen than it ever was, but because it is still as fallen as it ever was.
It is still in desperate need of its Redeemer to come and set all things right. In the meantime, pray. Pray with and for your children.