BY ANNA COX
Over 2 million people took part in the World Weekend of Prayer for children.
Every year the World Weekend of Prayer (WWP) unites millions of people across the world in prayer for children.
Events are organised in churches, schools and communities, and some even join in by praying in a room on their own – joining millions of people around the world in prayer.
Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. (Psalm 8: 2)
This year we heard about 35 events that were run in 22 countries across Asia, Africa, South, Central and North America and Europe.
The weekend has had a real impact on people involved: people have engaged in prayer for the first time, gained greater understanding of children’s needs and attributes, new members have joined Viva’s partner networks, children have connected with local churches and positive steps have been made towards changing the situation for children in their cities.
We also know that there are many more taking part who have not had the chance to feed back to us. We believe the numbers of people reached and number of events held is far greater than we know – the spiritual impact is beyond quantifiable!
The 2017 theme was ‘Teach us to Pray’. Viva recognises the power of children’s prayer, and wants to encourage children’s workers and churches to create space for children to pray and to listen for God’s word through children.
As Viva is working to change negative situations for children, also include awareness-raising or directing prayer towards needs faced by children in the community in their events. Prayer focuses included:
- Education in Ranchi, India: “as human beings we are helpless so need to educate, equip and empower ourselves by talking and listening to God.”
- Conflict in the Philippines: “In Marawi city where there is war and children are suffering from hunger and fears…in Sunday School, prayer concerns were written in paper and posted at the prayer wall after praying. Inside the church, the congregation prayed for the event and an elder led the prayer hour.”
Events organised were all different shapes and sizes and the ones for children are always loads of fun! We shared ideas of some exciting activities to aid children’s prayer and they went down a treat. Some used a prayer wall and world maps to help visualise their prayers and the location of children to pray for.
Others used a courage activity (which involves children jumping up and down whilst praying) to demonstrate that God expects us to have strength and endurance to face difficult situations.
The most popular activity was probably prayer balloons (pictured above) and many were able to use the book we created this year as well, drawing on the story of Hannah and Samuel with prayer points written by children.
Some networks linked with other organisations and movements in prayer and there were even World Weekend of Prayer radio broadcasts!
Food and refreshments are often given at larger events, especially in more economically deprived areas. People who organised an event in Uganda told us about miraculous food donations to make this possible: “Before this event we needed resources for this day to be a success which were so limited. But God is faithful and he provided through the different people we approached who gave us donations and that was a very very big miracle. The following Saturday 10th June someone gave us more maize flour to give to these needy children. We thank God for that.”
Many have sent us stories of lives changed, people touched by God, and people with new or renewed sense of empowerment following the World Weekend of Prayer. You can read some testimonies here. Here are three positive impacts we have noticed from feedback of this year’s World Weekend of Prayer:
- Improved understanding of children and prayer
In El Salvador, “adults… are now aware of the children’s situation, they were moved, and thought how they could prioritise not only the children of our mission but the world and its child population.”
- Network development
Connecting children with the network has the potential to transform their lives. This can be through network programmes or by connecting children to local churches. In Uganda, some event leaders said, “and guess what, we have made friends with these children some of them have joined the pathfinder club that we have, others come and pray with us.”
- Changing children’s situations
Helping children to know that they are loved by God and can trust and depend on him can immediately change their outlook. All of the events seek to achieve this. Children also need to learn about the needs of others to help ensure better equality for future generations. In India, “children are encouraged to continue to pray for children who are in need… They came to know many children are not having access to education like them and need help.” As we are developing children as agents of change, this understanding is a vital first step.
We are encouraged that local authorities are engaging with the World Weekend of Prayer, increasing awareness of issues children face and the need to address them, with a spiritual context to help drive change.
Representatives from Bolivia said, “the presence of local authorities who prayed for children was a very special moment because we noticed that the authorities or their representatives were impacted when we pray for each one of the problems that children have to live and deal with in his life. The authorities now… listen to us more carefully and are willing to help us.”
We pray that those who participated will not stop praying at the end of the weekend, but that those whose lives were touched will continue to be praying with and for children, and will encourage children to pray as well.
Click here to read our full summary report.
Want to join in the World Weekend of Prayer next year? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to request receiving our regular emails about WWP from January 2018.