This morning; Thursday 24th February 2022, I woke to the news that Russia had invaded Ukraine. I told my little boy Hunter about how the people in the Ukraine needed our prayers and now we will be praying for the country together. Hunter is almost 3, so he doesn’t understand anything about war. But he understands when someone needs prayer because we pray together each night and at intervals during the day.
If you want to understand more about the situation between Russia and the Ukraine visit this page.
What do I say to my child/ren?
If you’re a parent then you want to be as honest as you can about the situation. Older children especially understand and will hear other children talking in the playground. You don’t need to explain all the ins and outs, but for 5-11 year olds, explaining that just as two people can have an argument and a fight; two countries can do the same, is simple enough. They will understand what it means to fall out or get upset with someone; especially if they have a sibling! And if they have ever watched a fight in the playground then they will know what it means for others to join in. Often children side with one friend or another, so most will understand what it means for others to want to get involved in an argument. Some children may be more nervous or anxious than others; you know your child/ren. You will know how much to tell them; each child is unique and may need a different, yet always loving, approach.
Answer their Questions.
Try to answer any questions that they may have. Avoid ignoring or laughing at anything they don’t yet understand. In this way you will help to reassure them that you are a safe person to ask their questions towards. If you don’t know the answer, be honest, but try your best to discover the answer, if possible. We don’t always understand all the politics of world situations ourselves, but we shouldn’t stay ignorant as this will affect the way that we pray and with what intensity we pray.
Reassure your child that God is in control. Lovingly explain to them that many sad and bad things do happen. The world isn’t perfect like it was in the Garden of Eden. Yet our prayers are powerful and can make a big effect. We can consistently pray and believe that God is doing things that we can’t see.
How do we Pray for Ukraine?
- Simple Prayers. Simply praying together in pairs or in a small group is an easy way to introduce children to praying for Ukraine. You don’t need to pray in a ‘flashy’ way at all. Keeping things simple can sometimes be most effective.
- Pray while Eating. You could try cooking and eating some delicious Ukranian dishes whilst you pray together.
- Doodle Prayers. Inviting children to doodle prayers is a fantastic way to introduce praying in a fun and creative way.
- Candle Prayers. Children can light a candle and sing and pray for the people of Ukraine. This song is a lovely one for children to sing together as they pray.
- Journal Prayers. If your child/ren enjoy journaling then this is a great way to get them praying: invite them to pray in a longer form by writing down their feelings as they pray.
- Acronym Prayers: Invite children to pray according to the letters of Ukraine or Peace.
- Map or Globe Prayers. Finding Russia and the Ukraine on a map or globe, you can find a free printable world map here.
- Prayers whilst Fasting. Some older children may like to give something up in a response to how severe the situation is. If they are unable to give up a meal they could commit to giving up TV or internet time to pray instead.
Who do we Pray for?
For older children you could explain about the bombs going off. Imagine waking up in the early morning to bombs going off; this is what some children have faced. It’s a very scary time for the people of Ukraine and they need our prayers. Pray for mothers and fathers, for children and the elderly, for those that are disabled and can’t move from their homes. Pray for all the soldiers involved.
This is a very difficult situation and every world leader needs our prayers. Inviting children to pray for those that make the big decisions will help them to remember that God is in control and that He can guide our leaders. Praying for each President and Prime Minister will help the children understand the situation a little more and give them tools to pray into the situation deeper.
You can invite children to pray for the many Christians that live in the Ukraine. Ukraine is one of the most Christian countries with 78% declaring to be part of the Orthodox Christian Church, 10% purport to be Catholic and 2% as Evangelical Christians. Pray that they would have strength and be a light to their friends, neighbors and world.
Helping Children Pray for Ukraine Questions:
Do I tell my child this could be the start of WW3?
There is lots of talk around this war being the one to start WW3. This may be true, but it is probably unwise to simply declare this to children. If they ask, you could reply that although this is a possibility, it is not the only possible outcome for this situation and prayer can help to make a big difference.