Challenging children in Lent

By Libi Clifford

Lent or Holy Week may be the perfect time to help children to incorporate more about Jesus and God into their daily lives. The preparation for Easter, for most of us, involves prayer and fasting. Children can be challenged to take part in both.

Fasting or self-denial can be deFasting or self-denial can be described to children as making more room for God in their lives by taking something out. We can help children decide what they can remove from their lives, remembering that many traditional ideas may not work as well as they used to. Having meat every day is not the norm for many children, but a meatless pizza will be noticed!

Self-denial may make more sense to a child if it is an exchange. Instead of dessert, money can be given to a food bank so someone else can eat. Some “screen” time can be substituted with reading a book of Bible stories or using a Bible story app instead of games. If discussed and not imposed, most children will rise to the challenge of short term self-denial.

Adding prayer to the life of children might be even easier than adding fasting.  Researching or writing graces for daily meals can be a family challenge. After learning a prayer method like the “Five Finger Prayer”, children can easily say their own bedtime or morning prayers. Instant prayers can teach them to be more observant. (Dear God, please help the man over there who looks hungry; or Dear God, please stop people from throwing their garbage on the road.) A “thank-you jar” is a fun and prayerful activity for everyone. Each day children write one or more things they are thankful for on slips of paper and put the papers in their own or a family jar.

Challenge your children and grandchildren to take part in the preparation for Easter. The activities just might become habits!

Libi Clifford is a member of the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer executive committee.