At Birkenhead Community Church in Auckland, Emily Tyler has just started a new way of connecting generations in prayer ministry for each other. ‘Prayer Guardians’ involves matching up people with the names and ages of children to pray specifically for them on a weekly basis.
“It’s new for us, and we’re right at the beginning of it. So far, we’ve got people specifically praying by name for younger people—all the way from kids in creche to teenagers. When they put their hands up to be a Prayer Guardian, they received the name, age and gender of a child in our church, and commit to praying for the child by name once a week.”
Emily says she’s hoping to create a ‘post box’ where kids and young people can send letters directly to their Prayer Guardian, and a questionnaire where kids can talk about their favourite thing about school, what worries them, and what they enjoy: “The aim is to help make church a truly multi-generational place where there is connection across the generations and an acknowledgment that we are all part of the Body of Christ—no matter our age and stage.”
Currently, in a church of around 180 people (130 adults, 50 kids), there are 90 children and teenagers being prayed for by name. Many of these kids don’t come along every week or come from unchurched homes: “Sometimes children are dropped off by a parent or come along with friends. We recognise what a privilege it is to be praying for these kids and their families.”
“We’ve had a range of adults come on board to be Prayer Guardians—even those who are not at an age or stage of life where you’d naturally be involved with younger kids. My advice for anyone wanting to do something similar is to go gently and remember that not everyone is a natural ‘prayer warrior’. I’ve included ideas on how to pray and practical tips like: Consider popping your child’s name in a visible place as a reminder; praying for their walk with Jesus and journey of faith; praying for family and home life; for friendships; praying Scripture over them...”
And it’s not just adults who have signed up to be Prayer Guardians, says Emily: “We’ve had a number of teens from youth group who are signed up and are praying for younger kids.” A truly intergenerational church is one that makes a way for kids to serve and belong to the wider body, “There are lots of ways to encourage the generations to interact and be together; consider asking children to help with welcoming, setting up, or taking biscuits around at morning tea. This year, kids from our church have been part of writing devotionals for our church-wide Advent devotional. These are practical ways which help kids develop their gifts and serve others.”
Story by Sophia Sinclair.