Prayer for Children living in Dangerous Places: (taken from www.thesanctuary.org website)
(a) Soften our Hearts. Using pots of playdough ask the children to make heart shapes from the dough that they can hold in their hand. Alternatively, they can get cardboard cut outs of hearts and stick soft material onto them.
It can be difficult to explain the heart to children and some of our imagery can confuse them. When we don’t listen to others and don’t care about how others are feeling and want to do things our own way all the time then sometimes we describe this as having a hard heart. So when we are taking the time to listen to others, to care about how they are and to want to do things God’s way we can say that our heart is soft as we are open to God and to others. By making soft heart crafts we are reminding ourselves to stay open to God and to others and to care about those who are living in dangerous places. Ask the children to carry the craft with them to the next station to remind them to be open to caring for people, even people they don’t know.
(b) Map of the world or globe. Look at different places in the world that don’t have peace. You can use your discretion to name all, some or one of these places. Show where they are in relation to Ireland. Check out how far away they are by plane. Maybe show a picture of people from that country, the money they use, the food they eat, the clothes they wear and explain that at the moment they are living in a place that is not safe because of fighting and war.
Many Christian agencies have information about different conflicts and crises on their websites. For example CMS Ireland and Tearfund Ireland both have a focus on South Sudan at the moment and Christian Aid has an emergency appeal for displaced people in Iraq. Show the children the kinds of things that people need in a conflict situation: blankets, medicine, basic food and safe water. They also need shelter and children need education and the chance to play and to talk about being afraid. You can bring examples of these things from your home or you can see images of emergency kits on NGO websites.
Give the children dove templates to place on the map where they are praying for peace. A dove is a symbol of peace and Jesus is described as the ‘Prince of Peace’. Jesus brings peace to places and situations where you would think peace is impossible! But Jesus makes all things possible. For boys in particular (and to save on cutting templates!) consider folding the paper that the dove is on into airplanes (see example above and simpler examples if you google airplane folding template) and as they throw the plane they should think of the place they are praying for and of God bringing his Peace.